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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reason and the Common Preschooler

Question. What's harder than reasoning with a preschooler?
Answer. Just one thing. Reasoning with a tired, sick or hungry preschooler.

You've read the articles in the parenting magazines. You've talked to the moms in your kids' playgroups. You've developed something of a plan for avoiding power struggles, and for dealing with the inevitable occasional temper tantrum. (If right now you're thinking, Actually, not so much. I have no plan, and my kid's temper tantrums are out of control, don't despair. Take a look at this... and maybe this too. It wouldn't hurt to read this also.) But what happens when your plan fails, or is forgotten because you are tired or busy or in a hurry, and you find yourself face to face with the most unreasonable of all creatures: your tired, sick or hungry and now frustrated child?

Truthfully, there are a few things that are harder to deal with than a raging preschooler, but it's difficult to believe it in the moment. Jack and I had a bit of a power struggle yesterday. He has been sick and not napping, and it was late in the day. I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say it started with my being bonked on the head with a toy (accompanied by preschooler giggles) after repeatedly asking Jack to put his toys away (repeating my request was the first of my many mistakes in the interaction), and finally ended half an hour later when Jack did as he was asked. Somehow my child got the idea that not only does he not have to listen to his mum or do what she says, he can just go ahead and mock my authority altogether. I recognized that this was a serious problem, and stood my ground. Jack did as he was asked because he finally recognized that he wasn't going to get what he wanted any other way, but that was a tough half hour!

Ahhh, preschoolers. They are an absolute delight 90% of the time. I asked Jack how he felt after putting his toys away. He smiled at me and said, "I feel happy. That's my favourite thing to do: cleanin' up." That made me feel pretty good too.

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