Sunday, March 05, 2006

Promises, Promises

My husband and I are having a difference of opinion lately.

He's annoyed that, every night, after we tuck Sweetie in, say good night and leave her room, she always gets out of bed one time.

I think it's fantastic that she typically only does it this one time, then she's good for the night.

Okay, so it does seem to be a "game" with her. And maybe we shouldn't be accepting her game play at bedtime. But, like I said, it's only this one time and then she's done. Easy beans.

At any rate, we are trying to make her understand that she needs to stay in bed from the get-go. We talk to her and explain that she needs to wait until her clock says "6" (which, by the way, is working great in terms of middle-of-the-night visits!).

She seems to understand our request that she stays in bed. We ask her if she promises to stay in bed, and she says she does.

Then she gets out. Of course.

I know she doesn't understand what it means to make a promise. We've tried to explain it to her, but yet she still struggles with understanding it all. So, in an effort to explain-through-actions, I've been trying to get better about coming through on my promises to her.

It's much harder than I thought it would be.

Example: She asks to watch one of her longer videos less than an hour before her bedtime. So I tell her no, but I promise we'll watch it tomorrow. But the next day she may or may not even remember that she wanted to watch the video in the first place. Am I obligated to remind her so that I can keep my promise? Because I know if I don't then she's likely to not remember a thing about the video until, again, it's too late in the evening to watch it.

There are lots of other promises we make to her - candy if she cooperates with Daddy when he buckles her in her car seat, a stint at the computer playing or once I'm done working on something, or Play doh time after lunch, to name just a few.

It's also tough to hold firm on my not so nice promises. Earlier today, for instance, she wanted to watch a silly video she knows from the internet. So I interrupted my writing so she could watch it just once. She agreed - just once. Then she threw a fit when I wouldn't play it again for her.

I knew she'd stop her crying and screams if only I'd let her watch the video again. And I knew she's just playing us to get what she wants. But she needs to learn she can't always get her way.

Like yesterday at the grocery store when she cried and screamed to get out of the carriage. She promised she'd walk and stay with us. We said okay, but if she ran away, back in the carriage she goes. She ran, we buckled her back in. She screamed. Carrying on like a maniac in a public location. But we had to do what we said we'd do if she didn't listen to us.

We want her to learn and appreciate what it is to make, and keep, a promise. Whether the consequences are good or bad, she needs to understand the power of a promise.

I just wish I was sometimes smarter about which treats and/or punishments I agreed to dole out depending on our surroundings, time constraints and my personal tolerances.

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