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X-posted to parenting101


One of the things I struggle with most, as a parent, is coming up with relevant consequences when the kidlets misbehave.

Here's the situation:
My 3.5 year old daughter snuck into our bedroom and climbed up onto our dresser to try to get into the top drawer where we put her pacifier (specifically out of her reach). She knows she's only allowed to have the paci at bedtime. She knows she's not allowed to rummage through the drawers of the dresser. While she was doing this, she accidentally knocked a glass of water off the top of the dresser, and it promptly shattered, the sound bringing me running.

I assess the situation, and decide that the most relevant consequence is for her to not be able to use her paci that night. This is not the first time she has tried to sneak in and get it... this is more like the 100th time in the last month. I knew it would be a rough night, but I was ready to go for it - I'm hoping to wean her off the paci sometime in the next 6 months anyway. So she's told she won't be getting the paci tonight, because she didn't listen to mommy. The expected tantrum ensued.

About an hour later, her behaviour turned around completely. She became the nicest, sweetest, most helpful little girl you could imagine. She was sharing with her little brother, and doing everything that one would hope their kids would do in terms of good behaviour. Of course she was making sure I noticed, by calling my attention when she shared, etc. Since I'm trying to make sure that if I end up taking something away from her as a result of consequences of actions, I typically give her the opportunity to earn it back, I suspect it was this that she was thinking of when she turned her behaviour around.

Except this was a slightly different situation... she had only "theoretically" lost paci privileges. Since it wasn't night-time, it wasn't a time when she would normally have her paci anyway. So in effect, in telling her she had earned it back, there wouldn't actually have been any consequences for her actions. Then I wonder if I would have been guilty of not "following through".

I ended up giving her the paci, but not without a lot of wonder as to what was the best thing to do.

1) Should I have removed her paci privileges as a result of the incident, or was there some other more suitable consequence that I couldn't think of? It seemed like a logical consequence, but maybe it was too much like punishment? I struggle with balance between consequence and punishment - I was punished as a child, so that is what comes easiest to me.

2) In telling her that her behaviour earned her back her paci privileges, it seemed like that was giving positive reinforcement to her good behaviour, so I think that was the best course of action, however I'm still second guessing myself - Maybe I am actually guilty of not following through on consequences, therefore reinforcing the negative (or undesirable) behaviour.

I could really use some feedback here... normally I can look back on my actions and decide if I made the right choice and whether or not to employ that strategy again, but this one has me a bit confused.



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 15th, 2009 01:20 am (UTC)
I'm going to have to pretend the pacifier is something else before I can even begin to ponder this one.

If you typically give her the opportunity to earn back her lost privilege then you are following through by giving it to her when she is behaving well.

Though if I were you I'd keep an eye on that because she might learn that she can do bad stuff but always make up for it by being super good afterwords.
Setting a pattern of bad/good/bad/good that will drive you buggy.
Oct. 15th, 2009 05:36 am (UTC)
Hehe, I know you hate pacis :P

This pretty much mirrors almost all the other comments - the idea that it's going to set up a bad habit, or not teach her not to do the bad stuff.

It's a good point... I really hadn't thought of it that way. Thanks!
Oct. 15th, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC)
It's so hard not to cave when they start behaving themselves.
It's a stand strong kinda deal.

I hate pacis because I hate not being able to see a pretty face that is hidden behind one or hear a sweet voice that is being muffled by one.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 15th, 2009 05:40 am (UTC)
Yeah I was really torn. The fact that she had a tempertantrum/melt-down when I suggested she wasn't going to get it that night, made me think that it was effective - she obviously was upset and appeared to have regret for her actions (in her pre-K kind of way). But because it was a delayed consequence, it hadn't actually happened yet... so was it effective? Meh.

I think from all the comments I've received, I've come to the conclusion that the idea of re-earning what's been taken away, probably isn't the best way to deal with the situation, so I think I'll probably do this a little differently next time anyway... no longer will she be able to re-earn privileges!
Oct. 15th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
Prohibition creates desire. I suggest letting her have it. I don't understand why you are forbidding it.
Oct. 16th, 2009 01:24 am (UTC)
While this is true, prior to us limiting her use of it, she had it in her mouth constantly. This is a problem because:
1) it affects her speech development and her ability to speak correctly, which is already an issue with her diagnosis;
2) it affects the way her teeth grow. The dentist said it was ok to give it to her at night until she's about 4, but not constant use, or we were going to run into problems - her mouth and teeth would grow around its shape;
3) they are a huge source of germs, and children who use pacis have much higher rates of illness infection.

Knowing all this, we gave her the paci anyway, because all of the consequences were long-term, and I felt it was more important to provide her with some immediate relief and comfort while she was a baby. I felt the long-term stuff was something that would be easier to deal with when she was older and more able to reason.

But unfortunately, because she showed no willingness to give it up on her own, or even reduce her use of it, we had to step in as parents, to make that decision for her. It's just not helpful for her physical growth and development.

Even so, I am unwilling to remove it from her completely at this point, because she is still so emotionally attached to it. I am hoping with a little more time, age, and maturity, she will be more willing to be separated from it so we can do away with it completely, but that point is not yet upon us :/

So yes, that's why she's only allowed to use it at night.
Oct. 16th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
So how come you think we should let her have it? Most people are shocked and disapproving of pacifiers LoL
Oct. 16th, 2009 02:06 am (UTC)
Well, I wasn't aware of your daughter's history, but if a dentist told me it could damage her in some way, I'd seek a second opinion. I've heard that before, but I'd require proof. I'd be damned if I'd let some quack adversely affect my daughter's emotional development without proof there was some validity to his claims. I would want to balance the evidence against my daughter's psyche and make an informed decision. Assuming you have, why give it to her at all? Just throw it out and explain it's bad for her. But don't punish her for her mental/emotional wants and needs in any event.
Oct. 16th, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
I actually, am the living proof that it's bad. My teeth grew around my thumb, and it was very obvious and noticeable. I had to have surgery on my mouth, and braces to correct for it.

Since the dentists I've consulted have indicated that restricted use up until the age of four is not harmful, I've elected to wait as long as possible before removing it from her, for exactly the reason you suggest - because it may be damaging to her emotional development.

We weighed the risks and benefits, and that's the path we chose, based on what we knew, her personal issues, and family history.

But I'm getting that you're suggesting not making it a source of potential consequence. I think I pretty much came to the same conclusion, after the fact. It seemed like the right thing to do, because consequences need to be relevant, and I couldn't really think of anything else relevant at the time, but I've since received some suggestions at potential other options, so I'm pretty sure I won't go that way again.

I'm interested in how you would have handled it though. Setting aside the issue that it was a paci, if there was something your daughter was repeatedly going after (note that she wasn't getting it... just going after it), and it wasn't something she knew she wasn't supposed to have, and something that you didn't want her to have, what would you have done?
Oct. 16th, 2009 05:09 am (UTC)
All right, we can assume it is genuinely hazardous. But if "restricted use up until the age of four is not harmful", that is what I would recommend.

But you've got to realise that restricted use is punishment enough. If anything, she should be "compensated" with a pleasant distraction from her suffering. That is how we handle such disappointments of Claire's, if a simple explanation "No, we're not doing that right now," does not suffice. "Well, you can't have X, but would you like Y?" As a teacher told me regarding classroom management, "'Redirect' is the name of the game."

We often tell Claire "No." Either she obeys or we give her a second chance with an explanation. Either she obeys or we enforce it. We gave her "time outs" for a while, but we don't have to do that anymore because the mere memory of them is enough to stop her. When we enforce something or sharply criticise her ("Claire! That's not nice! That's very naughty!"), she immediately says, "No time out," and behaves perfectly.

But in general, we explain why we're doing something until we're sure she understands it, then we redirect.
Oct. 16th, 2009 05:20 am (UTC)
Alex has a sassy nature (I wonder where that comes from? *grin*) and isn't necessarily affected by time-outs - it depends on her moods. We keep giving them though. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. It's a bit hit and miss. Last few times she's been saying, "Yes mommy, I WANT a time out!" Totally sassy!

Oh the joys of a spirited child :)

I'll try more redirection next time. It's entirely possible I'm expecting too much of her - she's so smart, but yet she may just not be mature enough for the approach I've been taking to date. Thanks!
Oct. 16th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
I am not a mother, so I have no "motherly" advice. But it seems to me, by taking something away, but giving her the chance to always earn it back, she may get the impression that even when she does behavior that you don't approve of, she can always make it better by being "good".

Like I said, I'm not a mother, so I don't have to deal with the actual issue of surviving a tantrum, so what I say may be completely off base.

Just a thought :)
Oct. 16th, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)
Well yes... and that is probably true... when she has inappropriate behaviour, it does kind of make it better by being "good". However I don't want her to get the idea that it makes it "ok" to do the inappropriate stuff.

Such a tough call.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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