Picking Your Battles
Rules and discipline are important when it comes to children. That said, it’s also important to pick your battles and not fuss over everything. It can be very frustrating for my husband because I’m home all the time with the kids so I’m basically the rule maker and enforcer of our family. He doesn’t see them frequently enough to even know what the current rules are. Oftentimes he freaks out about the smallest offenses and really tries to get V to stop with a chorus of “No no no no no!” That tactic never works and usually just eggs her on. But even more frustrating to him is when I shrug the behavior off as nothing. For example:
Whenever we go out to eat we get V a milk. Most places have some form of kiddie cup. V would eventually get bored with dinner and start taking the straw out and trying to reinsert it. My husband went nuts over this. “She’ll spill her milk!” Maybe, but it was a risk I was willing to take because: a) it was keeping her from bugging me, b) we have a change of clothes, c) it was more likely she’d just cause minor drippage and d) it helps build fine motor skills. My ambivalence and lack of support (I was sitting next to her) really pissed off my husband. But damnit, she was leaving me alone and letting me eat so let her fucking play with the damned straw I don’t see you letting your food get cold all the time or eating one-handed with a toddler in your lap. Ahem. Moving on…
It can be really, really difficult to get children to do things the way we want. Redirection is a great way to do it without being negative. For instance, the cat demands milk in the morning and V kept picking up her dish (which was glass). So I prompted her to start putting it in the dishwasher. We can model good behavior and try to encourage it, or discourage bad behavior, but in the end it’s up to the child to act (or stop).
The following are some of the rules at our house, and also how they’ve modified over time.
You may not climb on the back of the couch.Fuck it, if you fall off it’s your own damn fault. The floor is carpeted anyway. You may not climb on the cat tree.Okay, you can climb on the lower tier of the tree. No, you may not shake the tree while up there.
- You must hold hands while crossing the street/parking lot. Or be carried. Or be on a leash.
You may not drink the kiddie pool water.Fuck it, you’ll just have a better immune system (I hope).
- When playing with sand, it must remain in a proper receptacle.
You may not hit brother. Or me. Or Daddy.You may not hit. You may not climb on the bed. You may not bounce on the bed.You may not do hand stands on the bed.
- You may not mess with the cat’s food and water.
- You may not shake your brother.
- You must be gentle with brother.
- And try to be quiet around him ffs.
- You may not be in the office by yourself, since you are incapable of not using my chair to climb up on my desk and pull out pointy things.
- You may not throw the Kindle.
- You may not stand up on the chairs. Or climb up on the table.
- Shoes are on whenever we go outside, and off whenever we come inside. Especially on the couch.
- Mommy will not pick you up while she is eating. Go do something else.
- Mommy will not read to you while she is eating.
You may not eat stuff off the floor.Ok so it depends. Definitely no bathroom floors though or super public places. No French fries. Okay just one, they don’t have anything else you’ll eat.Stop eating all my fries! I need to stop ordering those. You will take a nap. Please take a nap?You will have quiet time, and may read or take a nap.