Sunday, March 18, 2012

Attitude Adjustment

After doing some reading and doing some thinking, I've come to the conclusion that the root of our struggles that I wrote about last weekend was that, basically, Peeper is doing a really, really good job of being an almost-three-and-a-half-year-old kid, and I was doing a really, really, bad job of being the mama of an almost-three-and-a-half-year-old kid.

After taking a a deep breath, and a step back, I can see that I was just setting myself up for trouble by having unrealistic expectations, and then getting frustrated and angry when - shockingly - she failed to meet them.

One of the resources that I've found is the blog The author writes about gentle parenting and other topics from a Waldorf perspective, which (in my opinion) definitely has its merits, but also has several aspects that I just can't get on board with, so there were several things that I chose to "leave" but there were also many, many things that I found it very helpful to "take" and implement, or at least keep in mind.

I've already posted an excerpt from the list of reasonable expectations for a three year old. It was good to see that on most things, Peeper is right on target, or ahead of the game, but mostly it was a good reminder that she just can't "listen to and follow directions" the way I wish she could. Because she's three.

Another valuable insight - or reminder - from that blog is the idea that "the child under the age of 7 lives in their body, so . . . approach discipline through ACTION," and her suggestion to use movement, images and song to get the kid moving in the direction you want, rather than spoken instructions.

I've been trying to do that, and to make a game of everything, rather than a battle, it's worked amazingly well.

Peeper's enjoyed our daily "dish races," is much happier to "help Santa get to the North Pole and park his sleigh in the garage" than to "put your Santa train in the cabinet," and she no longer gets into her car seat, she climbs Rapunzel's tower, or the beanstalk, or a tree to get some honey.

In fact, "Baby Bear" will do just about anything I want, as long as it's couched in "bear" terms.

On Wednesday - school day - I had to actually wake her up in the morning, for the first time in quite a while, because she was up so late the night before.

I was trying to be very gentle about it, and not set her off into a "I don't want to go to school!" spiral (just yet), so when I called her "honey" or "baby" or "Roo" or whatever, and she mumbled, "No, I'm Baby Bear!" I figured I'd go with it.

I told her "Okay, Baby Bear, now we need to get up and go potty. . . at the bear potty in the woods."

(Because, as we all know, bears potty in the woods.)

Then I asked, "Do you want to hike down the trail to the bear potty, Baby Bear?"

"Yes!" she said, as she clamored over my body and out of bed.

So we held hands and hike-hike-hiked aaaaalllll the way down the trail, to the bear potty, where she stood on a tree stump to climb up to the potty.

When she was done, it was my turn, and she headed out to hike-hike-hike in to the office. As she walked out the door, I could see her lifting her feet in a weird way (that's "hiking" to her, evidently) and she started saying "Ow! Ow! Ow! Something's poking me! This grass is poking my feet! Ow, there's something poking in my paw!" and came back for me to remove the offending bit of imaginary nature from her wee little paw.

Later, I tried to play it off as "Baby Bear's First Day of School!" ("Peeper went last week, and now Baby Bear is going!") in hopes of giving her a bit of a "do-over" but she didn't really buy that one.

Of course, I've still gotten frustrated with her, but I've not been angry with her this week, I've not yelled at her, and I've not used "mad words" (most of which are spelled with four letters) with her all week.

Obviously, it helps that we've had a lot less external stress this week than last week, but I still attribute most of the difference to my change in attitude.

And I like it this way a whole lot better.


  1. Thanks for posting about all this stuff. You're a very helpful filter for this mum who is too busy to read up on this. So thanks for helping me muddle through better.


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