Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Parenting-my one good idea

A lot of times, with parenting, I feel like I'm winging things. I really don't have a lot of set in stone policies, and I'm not dogmatic about one approach or behaviorist's ideas. And my attitude is "I do it this way, you do it your way, our kids will all turn out fine." So in my 2.1 years of this, I've only come up with one concept I'd feel 100% okay sharing as the "good way to do things" that other people should follow. And it's not family bed vs. crib or cloth vs. disposable diapers or spanking vs. timeouts or no TV vs. educational programming or any of those other biggees. I make certain choices but I don't really care what other people do or think it matters much in the end.

So what is my big idea that I do think everyone should do? The concept of saying good-bye to things at the store. When we go shopping, Lauren is not allowed to have something just by asking for it, but she can carry something around with her while we shop, but then before we leave then she has to say good-bye to it and we put it back on the shelf. No matter what, we don't buy it if it was her idea to get something. I don't mean we never buy her things (a look around my house at the giant multiplying toy collection attests to that!) but that it's not ever on the spot when she asks for things.

I know, she is only 2 and this might not work forever, but for now, it is so nice not to have her do any tantrums in the store, and for me to feel a bit in control of the situation. Have you ever seen those parents bargaining with their kids? "No, Maddie, you can't have that. Put it back. Well, okay, fine. But only one. Pick which one. Okay, fine, both of them, put them in the cart."

What we do instead is give her choices of things we were going to buy anyway, such as "do you want the blue sippy cup or the yellow one?" and items at the grocery store ("which bananas look the best?") and we let her carry something around. Say, she'll spot an Elmo at the store and get excited about it. We say "would you like to carry Elmo around while we shop?" and she does, but then before we leave we say "okay, say good-bye to Elmo now" and put him back on the shelf. It works surprisingly well. If other parents would try this, maybe we'd all have a more pleasant shopping experience. Think about it the next time you're at Target and hear someone have a tantrum...

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