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Monday, April 25, 2011

Fun with Preschoolers

This morning I woke to the usual morning sound of Husband and Cora arguing. I had to intervene. He gets impatient with her, she digs in her heels and refuses to do anything he asks, and it all goes downhill from there. Especially when he's worked the night before and he's tired. Part of the problem with their mornings is that he wants to rush her out the door and off to school because he's tired, but she wants to spend time with him because she missed him. They do a lot better when he hasn't worked the night before.

We had a talk about it later, me trying to help him understand why they fight so much: She's my mini me! She doesn't like to be told what to do, she's stubborn and independent. So, if you want her to do something, you have to explain to her that it needs to be done, even while you're being firm. You can't just bark commands at her or she shuts down, and then everybody has a bad morning. Yes, she knows what she's supposed to do in the mornings, but she likes to feel like she has some sort of control over it, starting with the clothes she wears and ending with the place she's going. She wants to be part of the dialog. For instance, instead of grabbing clothes out of the drawer and saying, "Here, get dressed," you have to ask her what she'd like to wear that day. She'll choose a shirt and a pair of pants. She even wants to choose her panties and her socks. You can't say, "Go brush your teeth," you have to say, "Hey, after we brush our teeth, we can go see our friends at school! Let's go brush our teeth!" It's all about the presentation. It's preschool diplomacy. The art of preschool diplomacy is saying "nice doggy" until you find a rock. The art of preschool diplomacy is getting the preschooler to do what you want while making her believe it was something she wanted to do in the first place.

Not to mention, I set firm boundaries with her in advance to mitigate arguments later. Like, I might tell her she can watch one episode of Dora in the evening before bedtime, but tell her that she has to promise there will be no whining after, and then we will have to go to bed. She can watch more Dora tomorrow. There are times she'll still whine or cry if she's really tired or grumpy, but normally she'll comply without argument, and repeat that there was only one Dora and it's now bedtime.

But since I also understand Cora all too well, I know that she needs help in developing control over her emotions. When she gets worked up, I try to get her to calm down and talk through it so that she'll verbalize her emotions, instead of just melting down. And that's every 3 year old, I know, but that was really not something I was good at as a kid, even when older. Part of it is probably because whenever I'd be upset about something, my mother would just yell at me and tell me to stop crying (yeah, that's helpful). To this day, I'm still a crier when I get extremely angry/frustrated and I can't even verbalize the emotions or express them in healthier ways (like punching a retail customer in the face, which was unfortunately frowned upon). So, I want Cora to work on those skills, and that's our job to help her.

Anyway, I think Husband's a little stressed about the upcoming additional female in the house. But we'll work through it. At least until the excrement hits the rotary oscillator.


E.H. said...

You know I'm in the same boat. Although I have a husband who reacts as well to being told what to do as the 3-year-old, so I had some practice in how to handle it ahead of time.

Neither of them tolerate being told no. Gah.

Husband doesn't understand/see the escalation that P does, so that by the time he reacts, she's already way beyond intervention (or his type of intervention). I have to talk both of them off the ledge and I *hate* being in the middle like that. I just hope he figures her out before she gets to the place where she hates me!

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