Monday, August 29, 2011

love and logic: i love your good choices!

a couple weeks ago i blogged about giving kids choices. i told you, (my loyal blog readers) that i was going to share some of my experiences with you. while i have daily success with offering choices, something bigger has happened and i am excited to share it!

once we got through the initial sleep training phase, coen would go to bed without a fuss. he would play, giggle, sing and chat after i placed him in his crib. i would listen to his playful squeaks on the baby monitor until he sweetly drifted off to sleep. it was heaven.

well, at about his second birthday he began to protest. all was good through our bedtime routine, but as soon as i shut the door he would break into a 5-alarm protest cry for 30 seconds to a minute and then go to sleep. i fed into it for a while, and it wasn't pretty. at first i thought maybe he was teething, then perhaps his ears hurt, or maybe just maybe he is scared and needs one more goodnight kiss. none of this helped, it all made it worse.

i am embarrassed to tell you what happened next. it became a battle of bribery. now, before i go on you may be thinking the very same thing my wonderful husband was saying the whole time, "it's only 30 seconds...who cares?!" i can't explain it, it just made my skin crawl. i found myself holding my breath as i walked out of his room, it just made me so so mad. okay now, back to the bribery. i started to bribe him with jelly beans if he didn't cry. when one jelly bean didn't work, i upped it to three. go big or go home, right? when that flat out failed, i started to threaten to take away all his sleep items. one by one. but did i? of course not, he would never go to sleep without them.

embarrassing, right? but totally honest. after all this i decided to join my husband's train of thought. i decided if i didn't draw attention to it surely he would get bored and give it up, eventually. there was no clear end in sight, and we kinda just got used to it. it wasn't like he was crying himself to sleep (been there, done that), just this horrific protest cry that never lasted more than a minute.

enter: love and logic. hand the problem back to the child. give them a choice. 2 weeks ago i started this dialog with coen when i place him in his crib. he hasn't cried since.

me: coen, can i sleep in your crib?

coen: (giggling) no, you are too big!

me: i am? that's a bummer. who gets to sleep in your crib?

coen: (still giggling)um...just lamby, nordy and coen.

me: what lucky ducks! where can mama sleep?

coen: (pointing to the wall and still giggling) mama sleeps over there in mama's bed!

me: oh, that's right! well, i am very tired and need to go to my bed now. you have two choices, you can be a sweet happy boy or a crying sad boy?

coen: (super giggling) i want to be a sweet happy boy.

me: you do? that is such a good choice, you sure make good choices. do i get one more kiss from my silly sweet happy boy?

seriously, that solved it. the first 2 times i used this dialog he actually chose to be a crying sad boy (i found that hilarious) and i finished it out by saying that he was sure a silly crying sad boy and asking for one more kiss. he was giggling too hard to actually cry when i left. he yelled as i shut the door, and that was it. after those first couple times, he switched his choice to being a sweet happy boy and now he starts giggling as soon as i place him in his bed. he looks forward to the dialog just as much as any other part of our routine.

i put him in control of the situation. well, as in control as i was willing to let him be. i wasn't ordering him to not cry, i tried that remember? i simply let him decide how he was going to react, but i was leaving either way. he thinks he won, i know i did. love that logic!

happy parenting!

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