Yipee! Another day in Paradise, minus the paradise.
I seemed to be caught up in a never-ending cycle of nagging and threatening, then screaming, then apologizing for screaming, then bargaining then back to screaming again. And to be honest it was exhausting. Tears were often involved. I feared fine lines could be deepening with every twitch of my furrowed brow.
To add to the overall sense of stress, my little Goody-Two-Shoes would be at the door, clutching her book bag, tears welling in her eyes, anxious not to be late for school. Meanwhile my Rebel-Without–A-Cause might well be naked save her ballet pumps, insisting her teddy needed a drink and that it couldn’t be rushed, hair unkempt, teeth unbrushed. There was definitely some negative attention going down!
The only thing that kept me sane was knowing that once the little cherubs where handed over to their teachers, I could go off to my BodyCombat classes at Castle Royle and kick some imaginary butt. And because I have to drive to get there it stopped me from just necking a G&T to cope! (Anyone remember that Harry Enfield sketch where the parents had bottles hidden in cereal packets and the suchlike? I understand it now...).
‘This can’t go on!’ I said to myself (no one else listens) and I decided it was high time I tried to outfox my clever little cub. While I was mulling my tactics over, I happened to babysit for a friend that had a copy of The Incredible Years. Despite the overly optimistic title (unless it means it is incredible that more children are not offered for adoption?) I had a little read and it helped clarify what I needed to do.
Rather than overload The Rebel, with a barrage of instructions I whittled down my demands to just two reachable targets that I hoped would address the worst areas. These goals were to be out of bed by 7.30am, and to take no longer than 10 minutes to get dressed into the school uniform (The Rebel is not a fan of the uniform as you can imagine and would rather wear her shiny leggings and denim shirt of a morning). The book also suggested that kids less than five years of age need immediate rewards, rather than delayed ones.
Rather fortunately I then happened upon a brilliant Lego Friends sticker book when I was grocery shopping – and got a nifty little digital kitchen timer too. Later I sat down with The Rebel ready to begin the negotiation process. I explained that I was not enjoying the mornings and that the situation was going to change. I used my serious face, which sadly makes me look much like my mother. I outlined the two targets and showcased the sticker book. Two targets achieved, meant two stickers in the book.
I also revealed the timer and the amazing powers of time measurement it possessed. Yes, shocking isn’t it? Time is finite and does indeed run out. Every. Single. Morning.
Behold! Dora & Boots have mastered the concept of time...
And good news. The new regime has worked surprisingly well, and in fact this morning we got the personal best record of dressing time down to just three minutes. I have mostly been telling the Rebel that she is a ‘super dresser’ with the sort of fixed smile I see on the faces of the mentally ill. But I must also pat myself on the back for using the ten minute counter to demonstrate the ‘number bonds' of ten, just a little maths revision I like to throw in there. Hey, I’m on fire!
We have also built on our original targets and added a third requirement of being back downstairs by 8.30am. Third target reached? You guessed it – a third sticker in that book.
It’s not much I know, and to non-parents this sort of trivial detail must seem utter madness. But it has greatly improved my mornings and those of Goody-Two-Shoes too. And hopefully The Rebel will grow up to understand how to meet a deadline and plan ahead, surely valuable life skills? If nothing else, she should be a whiz at adding up to ten…
Have you got any tips on how to trick, I mean guide, a child into changing their behaviour? Let me know in the comment box below. I'm always open to new ideas as I fear I may meet more challenges further down the road...