Monday, March 26, 2012

Our Newest Parenting Magic Trick

As we've gotten more settled in our place and gotten more adoption paperwork done, thus freeing up more time and energy, I've started working with Zinashi on some age appropriate skills that she needs to develop. She was already jazzed about getting her own snacks and drinks (sometimes too jazzed, actually, and was disappointed when I'd tell her something was too heavy or too full or too hot for her to handle herself), and housecleaning is fun for her (yes, I am taking advantage of that while it lasts), but there are some things that I hadn't tackled yet because I knew there would be a little bit of resistance.

The first thing I wanted to tackle was bathroom habits. Zinashi has really gotten into imaginary play lately, and she doesn't want to stop playing to go to the bathroom. We've not had any accidents lately, but we've had some emergency situations which could have been easily avoided. While I'd love it if she'd start taking the initiative right away, for now I am directing her bathroom efforts and reminding her to go on a regular basis. The new rule is that if I ask her to take a bathroom break, she has to do it, whether or not she is ready to admit that she needs to go. I explained to her that this is what big kids and grown-ups do, and that it's a lot more comfortable. This has been met with some resistance.

The second thing that we are working on is picking up her toys on her own. In our old place, the organization system I had was a bit too complex for her, so I'd often help her quite a bit. When we got here, I organized everything in ways that would be simple for her to understand, but while we were settling in, I still often helped her. She's reached a place now, though, where she is comfortable in our new surroundings and developmentally capable of understanding organization and following through with the clean up of her own things. She is now expected to clean up her toys herself, often before she gets to do something else fun. This has also been met with resistance.

I tried a lot of things to try to motivate her, but most of the time I'd end up just asking her over and over again to do something, doing my best to keep my voice kind, but firm, and stand next to her until she did it. I got a lot of four-year-old drama queen attitude and numerous drama queen temper tantrums for my efforts. Things would eventually get done, but not before I inwardly rolled my eyes a lot and Zinashi did her best to control the situation in whatever way she could think up (including telling me that I was the one in trouble, for being "too serious"). This was not pleasant for either one of us. I figured there had to be a better way, but I hadn't stumbled upon it yet. Until I watched this video:

Not everything that Christine says here is applicable to our situation, but plenty is, and the positivity is absolutely applicable. Every single time we've stopped in the middle of being serious with her and reminded her of a time that she did something really well, she has stopped resisting and done as we asked. Sometimes we had to mention a few things she'd done well, but eventually she would start chiming in about what a good job she'd done at other times and decide she wanted to do the same this time. I swear, it was like magic. I couldn't believe it worked. But it disarmed her and made her feel good and capable, and then she just did what she needed to do. AMAZING. You should totally try it. It will revolutionize your life.

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