I will be the first person to admit that I don’t always know how to get the Monster to do things.
I mean, sure, we do plenty of things with behavior modification, like any parent. He gets jellybeans for toileting appropriately. He used to get M&Ms for eating food at dinner (and still does sometimes for letting us clip his nails). But those are easy, concrete things.
What about the more subtle behaviors?
The answer I found is to go with the flow on his behaviors, and harness that he’s a people pleaser and wants to be compliant.
We live in a fairly old house – it was built in the 1950’s – and much of the house is just poorly insulated. The Monster’s bedroom has two external-facing walls, so it can get cold(er) at night, and it’s the farthest bedroom from the furnace. (Much like the room I grew up in.) We were concerned that he’d play with a small heater if we put one in there but lacked a better alternative, and indeed, he did the first night or two, until we added “Don’t play with the fan” to the litany of things that we say as part of his good night process.
Likewise with a lava lamp that we have in his room on a timer, timed to when we think he’s falling asleep and when he’s waking up in the middle of the night – he likes to monkey with the switch attached to it. So I added “Don’t touch the lamp” to the litany, and… with few hiccups, he’s not doing anything to it anymore.
So… this goes back to something I mentioned in my twitter feed, that he kicked the wall last week and set off the window shock sensor in his room, which in turn set off the household alarm at 5 in the morning. I’ve been adding “Don’t kick the wall” into the night time routine, and for a few nights now, I’ve not heard him kicking the wall. I think it might be safe to turn the alarm back on at night, and we’ll try it.
But the key thing is, we’re working with his behaviors, not against them. He doesn’t want to be trouble, I know that. It’s just how to get through to him – in a fashion he under stands – how to behave and what we expect from him…
It sounds go with the flow on his behaviors is working. Glad you are able to get through him. It’s great that he wants to be compliant – makes everything easier.
I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know how well we get through to him. It’s a combination, a lot of the time, between leveraging his want to be a people-pleaser and his need for structure..
But the compliance is a big help, yes. He wants to be a good kid at heart, I think. It’s not like I think he’s being willful or “bad” when he’s having a meltdown or asserting for himself. It is entirely trying to figure out how to work with him to get what we want, like you do with most growing children.
I hear you.
I was thinking that some of the things you describe are similar to my children.
It sounds like you are patient, honest, and realistic.
I try to be at least one of the three. God knows I fail often enough to know I have a long way to go before I can claim to be patient or realistic. 🙂