Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To Zoo, or not to Zoo?

So. I've written that we've been having some... issues with Big B's behaviour. It all came to a head one night last week, when she decided to spend two and half hours running in and out of her room, throwing things and grabbing her sister through the crib bars after bedtime. She has a class trip to the Zoo coming up. (Do you see where this is going?)

"If I have to come in here one more time, you will NOT be going to the Zoo with your class!"
*SLAM! Stomp, stomp, stomp.* Shit. What did I just say? *squeezing eyes shut and holding my breath* Oh crap... please, please - just stay in bed, please do not open the door. See, the problem here is that I really do like my kids. I want them to be happy. I do not want to make her stay home from a trip that has her 4 year old heart bursting with excitement.

*creeeeeeak*... oh. shit.

"What did I say to you?"
"I don't know," she says, smiling.
"I told you that if I had to come in here again, you would not be going to the Zoo."
"But... " comprehension dawning, "I want to go the Zoo..."
"I know you do. I also know that I gave you many chances tonight to stay in your bed the way you are supposed to. You are not going to the Zoo."

This was followed by a good 20 minutes of sobbing. She did, however, stay in bed.

I spent the whole night wracked with guilt. I can't make her stay home from the Zoo... that's awful! What kind of mum does something like that? Surely there's another way? Unfortunately, I realise that the blame for some of this behaviour can be placed squarely on me. I may not have been the absolute best at follow through lately. I decided it ends here. If I didn't stick to this one, I would have absolutely no credibility with her.

I came up with a compromise. She is in fact, as of this moment, not going to the Zoo. We discussed how things like special trips are a privilege, and how her behavior lately has not been the kind that earns us special privileges. So, how could she earn the privilege of going to the Zoo? We agreed that if she could follow the bedtime rules every single night until the trip, she would be allowed to go. We made up some posters with the rules very clearly written on them so that everyone knows what they are. We also made a big poster to keep track of what a great job she's doing at bedtime. She really does seem to respond to things like sticker charts where she can actually see how well she's doing.

So far so good - it's only 10 days away, and I'm pretty confident that she can do it. Then I'll need something new for leverage.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Jess - good for you! How amazing that a four-year-old is learning that there are consequences to her actions. I think you are doing a fantastic job. That is an incredibly valuable lesson for her to learn. Be proud of the work you are doing!