?If I only tell my kids what they can and can?t do, I?m establishing rules for them to follow. This is a part of parenting for sure, but it can?t be the whole part. If I teach them how to think, I?m establishing healthy processing patterns that will serve them when they?re no longer under my immediate watch.? ?LYSA TERKEURST
A couple years ago, I read a parenting article written by Lysa TerKeurst. She concluded her commentary with a line I will never forget: ?And all the mamas of fountain-dancing children said, ?Amen!??
I read this particular article during a time when a certain toddler of mine worked really hard to give me prematurely gray hair. So a title of ?I don?t want to raise a good child? really struck me. A ?good? child sounded, well, good.
One who didn?t take off down country roads searching for Grandpa?s combine.
One who didn?t sneak away in Hobby Lobby to find a store ladder she saw several aisles away.
One who made me feel like I was a doing a good job as a mother, rather than one who made me feel like a failure. A lot.
In the words of Lysa, ?Really nothing makes the mother of a toddler feel more incapable than seeing her naked child splashing in the mall fountain. Except maybe that toddler refusing to get out and said mother having to also get into the fountain.? (Really, Lysa, we should be friends!)
Parenting fountain-dancing children has a way of stripping away pride in much the same fashion as the quick removal of a Band-Aid. It stings a little.
But it has also made me willing to try parenting strategies that are unconventional, but have propensity for immediate impact.
I?ve been struggling to get my current toddler to use his manners. If he?s willing, he?s the sweetest thing…irresistible, really. If he?s unwilling, growls and grunts accompany glares.
In sharing this unpleasantry with a friend, she told me something she had tried recently with her own child.
As she described her strategy, I knew it was pure genius. And I knew I would test it out on my own kiddo.
So that same day, I got my chance.
We were at Dale?s Super?market. And if you?ve ever taken kids to Dale?s, you know (as do your kids) that candy awaits at the checkout. My kids are well-aware they have to earn their candy. Normally this entails being helpful (i.e. unloading groceries at checkout), staying with mom (or in the cart), and no fits (over princess fruit snacks, for instance).
In that regard, the trip was successful. Candy was selected. One child had remembered her manners and said thank-you to the cashier. But my youngest decided to pick this moment to growl, grunt and glare.
So I implemented my friend?s strategy. I looked my son and calmly said, ?You need to say thank-you. If you don?t, you will give the sucker back.?
More growls, grunts and glares.So I took the sucker and gave it back.
A trip that had previously been calm and quiet erupted into a long and loud tantrum. Even though my face felt hot as other shoppers stared at us (maybe with daggers), I didn?t back down. I left with one child happily eating her candy and the other howling and screaming for a sucker.
The next time we went grocery shopping, he said thank-you.
I told you it was genius. But not for the faint-of-heart.