Monday, June 3, 2013

Natural Consequences, Revisted

Remember my post about Natural and Logical Consequences almost 2 years ago?  My first born was only 10 months old at the time, so I hadn't really been able to practice them.  The post basically summed up how to use Natural and Logical consequences: if your child refuses an umbrella when it's raining out, they'll obviously get wet and learn 'naturally' to take an umbrella next time.

Fast forward to my now 3 year old and I am about ready to use them at every waking turn.

"Mommy, I need you to tuck me back in!"  After I have put my child to bed over an hour ago, and I have had to go in a tuck her back in twice.  Nope, not going back in there for a 4th or 5th time.  The natural consequence is to for her to figure out how to tuck herself back in, because she has to learn sooner or later (and mommy is tired of getting up).

Oh, I know what you are thinking, "but that's so sweet, she wants you to tuck her in!  In a few years you'll wish for her to ask you to tuck her in."  Hmm.  Yeah, well, it is cute but not when you have maybe 2 hours of free time at night to get 20 household things done and you can't even cross off the first 'to-do.'

Almost the same thing happened the next time.  It was 3am and my child is yelling, "mommy, I'm awake! Come get me."

I thought, THIS IS GOING TO BE ANOTHER NATURAL CONSEQUENCE.  You call for me a gazillion times at 3am, I am not going to go in there.  It will teach her that mommy is not a robot and fetches you every little thing.  That's the natural consequence.  Plus the fact that my 12 month old still wakes up a few times at night crying and has not learned to go back to sleep in the middle of the night (she can fall asleep awake, but just not at 2am). I am a zombie and can't do it, just can't be up from 3-6am each night with both kids.  Can you see a theme here?  My lack of sleep is ruling my life right now :)

So basically the past few weeks, I just want natural consequences to do the job of parenting for me.  Like if my 3 year old starts wailing when she drops her sippy cup, I say: "Oh, you dropped your cup and you are feeling sad about it, all you need to do is pick it up and try not to drop it next time."  Yep, learn as you go, because mommy or daddy isn't always going to be there to do it all for you.  I'm trying to teach the message: You don't like the way something is, you have to learn how to solve the problem on your own.

What preschooler doesn't act like the whole world is about to be over when one little hair is out of place on their doll?  Or when mommy didn't set the block on the exact right corner of the tower you are helping build?  Or when the play dough isn't the right color?

Natural consequences.  I'm just sayin'.

Back in the day when I worked in daycares and babysat a lot, the kids would constantly come to me tattling: "He took my crayon!  I want it back!" or "I want a turn, he's not sharing with me."

You know what I would do?  Turn to the child and tell them, "I can see how frustrating that is, if you want a turn then go and ask him for one."

Or, "I can see how you are mad he took something from you, you can go and tell him that you were playing with it and share, or ask for it back."

I know a few times I intervened for sure, but for the most part I tried to get the child to solve their problem and practice their social skills.  I mean, our goal as parents now is to help our child in social situations when we're not around, right?  You have to start somewhere.

I honestly do love having such a cute 3 year old, and it's so precious how they ask you for help with everything and you just want to give in because they are just too irresistible when they bat those cute eyes.  And at times I do give in. Yes, me the counselor mom, gives in :)

You want to protect them and talk them into taking that umbrella and to put on that raincoat even though they are fighting you on it, and it's raining hard outside.  It's a hard balance of wanting to do things for them to help their poor little defenseless selves, or enforcing a limit (making them wear shoes to school when they refuse).

But on some things we know that mistakes will be made and they have to learn it on their own at one point or another.  It takes A LOT of patience on our part as parents, and a little tough love to watch them make those mistakes.  Baby steps :)


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