Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 203.

Someday, 25 years from now, my daughter will call me on the phone and ask, "Did you ever bribe us when we were little? I just bribed my child and I feel really bad about it. Tell me it's OK."

At least I hope she does, so everything will come full circle.

I am grateful for motherly advice.

Dylan is having an incredibly rough time separating from me these days. I can't really be in the next room without her wandering in to make sure I am still there, or wanting to be closer. This morning, on a whim, I told her that if she was brave today at gymnastics (which she always's just the separation...) then we could pick up an outfit for her doll to wear (sidenote: this is actually much needed since the poor doll is naked 24/7). She was thrilled with that idea and told me how brave she was going to be..."Not even one tear!" she said.

So, while we drove the 35 minutes to gymnastics, I sat in the driver's seat and felt remorseful about my bribery. I don't like to bribe my children. I want them to feel intrinsically motivated and to not do something because they're going to get a lollipop or something. But, I was really frustrated here. And I know from experience, when nothing else worked with potty training and I KNEW she was ready, I potty-trained her in two days flat with one M&M per potty success. So, I'm not completely against it when the shoe fits and we have to change gears in how things are working.

I called my mom and she told me a story or two of bribery in my own childhood. That was incredibly helpful as it made me feel like my children weren't going to turn sour with these random acts of bribery. And furthermore, she reminded me how it's not so hard to believe that rewards-based discipline works - after all, aren't we as adults motivated by what we might get out of situation or what the "reward" might be? It shouldn't be the only form of discipline or encouragement OF COURSE, but bribing once in a while isn't so bad.

Now that I think about it, can we just not call it bribery? I'm going with rewards-based discipline from now on, and I feel so much better about it. :)

Thanks, mom, for listening to me and reassuring me. Thanks for your accessibility. What would I have done this morning if you hadn't answered your phone both times I called for desperate parenting help?!

Sadly, the story does not end well. The crying was worse than ever. She was glued to my leg and hysterically screaming that she didn't want me to go. And when I reminded her of the bribe...she yelled back through tears, "I don't want any doll clothes! I want you!" Followed quickly by, "I'll get them tomorrow!" doesn't work like that my dear.

So, I guess we try again next week.

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