Monday, July 13, 2009

The next challenge

Since The Boy was about six months old, my mother has been saying we should have another baby so we don't spoil the one we have. I pooh-poohed her, however, it's occurred to me lately she might have a tiny, wee bit of a point. Another momma, this one Clueless But Hopeful, made me see see the benefits of being ignored. And the other night, when The Boy practically pulled my skirt off me trying to get me to play instead of washing the dishes -- because geez! he said PLEASE -- I realized we'd accidentally created a little bit of a monster.

The Boy thinks if he says please, we should and will drop whatever we're doing and do his bidding. He thinks this because we usually do, because we can and because, let's be honest, it's damn cute when he says, "Peeeez." But in six months, I'll have another cute baby tyrant on my hands.

We are now in Operation Independent Play.

Some of it is a rehash of Operation Tantrum Control. When I tell him no, I can't dribble the ball endlessly for his amusement, I give him options about what he can do instead. When I tell him he has to wait for me to read a book, I ask him to sing a song or put away a toy or fetch something.

We also are trying something new. The Boy recently discovered the stuffed animals that have been hanging out in his room ignored for 18 months. He especially likes an orange cow like the one in "Mr. Brown Can Moo!" creatively named Moo, and Rocky Bear, which Grammy got him at birth and which was named after The Boy whose initials are R.O.C. Oh, and a nameless Monkey from Ohio. We've started telling him to play with Rocky Bear or read to Moo when he demands our attention. It's actually worked a couple times; I caught him reading "Goodnight Moon" to Moo this morning.

What else has worked for you guys? For those you without kiddos, how did your parents get you to play on your own?


samuraistrong said...

Hillary, will this work on my dog? ;) I've already thought we should start ignoring him more and give him more nights sleeping on the floor...What do you do when your first born doesn't speak english and likes to shred toilet paper under your bed?

Michelle said...

Oh geez. We just entered this phase. And the screaming and the screeching. I'm sure our neighbors have Children Protective Services on speed dial. I'm just waiting for them to pull up and take Peanut away from me. The child loses it every afternoon when we get home and I try to make dinner. She could be surrounded by toys and it doesn't matter. Ignoring has done nothing for me. I'm going to try to take a few minutes to play with her before I start dinner each night and see if that helps.

Hillary said...

Really, Amanda, dogs and toddlers really aren't that different. I caught The Boy just seconds before starting to shred a book under our dining room table. Stern words and removal from the situation. : )

And Michelle, do what works for you, however, I will tell you the "few minutes" of play usually just delayed the tantrum for us. You might have better luck involving her. Give her something to "cook" with while you cook, maybe.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

All I can say is YOU ARE SO SMART. I didn't do this enough. I was feeling so guilty that Zoe was about to be a big sister that I started playing with her MORE in the months before Eliza was born, as if I could fill her up with attention so that she would have some extra left over for after the baby was born. News flash (to me!): BAD IDEA. She was so used to having me drop everything for her. YIPES.

The only thing that I was told that has seemed to work was this: give the child descriptive praise when they are playing by themselves nicely. Usually when the kid is playing by themselves we run away (or is that just me?) and ignore them. To really encourage it, you can call over to them "I see how you're playing with your doggy so Mommy can make dinner/fold laundry/surf the web. That helps Mommy out so much!" kind of thing. It sort of works with Zoe these days and I wish I had done more of it sooner!