Thursday, July 19, 2012

Natural consequences for a 4 year old - follow through is the hard part

Willingly swimming not too long ago...
After travelling for work the early part of this week, I was excited to see the kiddos again and get back to normalcy.

Today we faced "what do we do when our 4 year old doesn't want to go to swimming class." I'm sure that part most of this wasn't about the swimming. It was a long day (swimming starts at 5 and my daughter was up before 6 am), and the early part of the week was topsy-turvy.

Parenting decisions and control

The situation can be just about anything. She mostly willingly got ready (was a bit excited to see our au pair so it was delayed, but once our au pair was out the door, she put on her suit and waited (and was upset it took me an extra few minutes to get her brother and myself ready). 

We got to the pool without issue. I hadn't been to her "red star" class so while we were in the shower area, I asked her to show me where this big kid class was and tried to sound super excited... however, once we saw the water the plot to this wonderful day changed (she had earlier asked me to record her swimming). 

She didn't want to go in. She didn't want to swim far. She didn't want to go in.

I asked her why not and she reminded her reason. I told her if she went and sat by her class, I'd tell her teacher, but she wouldn't take her shoes off (this is where my husband would have picked her up and sat her near her class). I asked her "do you want to go on your feet or in the air"? (This is just about a direct quote from Parenting With Love And Logic ). She said neither. I reminded her that we signed her up for this class and she needs to go, since yesterday she had missed class as well (because her brother wasn't interested in quickly getting going from a friend's house... they had trains afterall!).

Who decides what? 

She then had me a bit - she said "why did you spend money on this class when I didn't tell you to do it?"
Yes, that is partly true. I did spend the money and while she didn't tell me to do it, she was excited at the end of last session (last Thursday) and when we signed her up she was there. Hmmph.

So, I told her that she could pay me back for it, but she didn't like that idea.

My "natural-ish" consequence was to let her know that we couldn't stop at Target on the way back because we had already wasted money. I then gave her 5 second warning to decide to go into the water or go home. she began crying. A bit irritated, I tried to stay cool, but then my 2 year old decided to start saying "NO GO HOME! NO GO HOME!" I sent to my 4 year old's eye level and said, "okay it is your choice, you have to decide." She tried negotiating but since she wasn't in the water, I decided to take it as a not swimming decision.

We started walking out and she started crying so I gave her another chance and told her it was her choice, we can go in and then she gets the stop at Target back, or we can go home, but since we wasted gas going to class when she could have told me earlier she wasn't interested, we couldn't go to a play date this weekend. She stopped in her tracks and we walked back to the pool.

But she wouldn't get in. 2 year old wanted to, but he's not signed up this round... so another round of negotiation and mostly "I know what you're going through looks" from other parents. A dad actually made room for me and my son to sit down while we discussed the plan. Almost half of class was over at this point, and I let her know this, but she then said "how about only one minute left." I reminded her that she chose to come back to the pool. 

We left again.

I stopped for a soda that I wanted to avoid. We stopped for water at the fountain (or bubbler for you Wisconsin readers). We went back home. We did not stop at Target, we did not collect the items from the store. We just went home as promised due to the "no swim" decision she made. I reiterated what was HER decision, since that is what it was. I don't want to force her physically do something she really doesn't want to do (her body, her choice (I am pro-life though, I like that term), but I also want to instill responsibility (ahem). 

She fell asleep on the way home. Tired from her long day... I was exhausted from the late flight in last night, another scorpion in the house and the negotiating I wasn't quite ready to do. I wish the threat/reminder of the natural consequence had worked when I gave her options, but it didn't. We've decided my husband will bring her to swim class next week. It is difficult with the two year old tagging along since 5 pm is just a really HARD time for a non-napper... If swimming wasn't as important as it is in the desert where she'll be around a lot of pools, I'd be okay with her not "wanting" this, but for safety reasons we really should continue. We have 4 classes left and I really hope that she goes next week without issue.

Now to follow through on the play date. My husband would prefer to take away Cailliou in the morning, but I want this to be equal - we wasted gas so we can't drive extra makes more sense? right? I hope!

She woke up from this late napped and asked if she can do a play date this weekend. She most likely didn't see my first response because it was dark in her room as we were talking.... I didn't say anything and she said she'll give me money for gas :) 


Brooke McIntire said...

Work?! So you actually LEAVE your children to go to work?! How dare you criticize moms who formula feed when you don't make the sacrifices to raise your own children! What a HYPOCRITE you are! Get a clue!

Amanda McMahon said...

Thanks Brooke for your comment! We all do have our "things" - When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.

-- This isn't about the bloggers, and it isn't about moms who choose formula out of necessity or choice... it is about Nestle and Enfamil using moms to do their work. I try to make things right and have taken down the list of blogs I've unfollowed because especially in this case, having controversy isn't the goal.

But yes, I have student loans to pay off, and so I work. For the most part I don't leave them, but at times, I do.

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