Thursday, November 20, 2008

Talking Walls and other crazy mommy tricks

So as promised...the tale of talking walls.

Ashton. God love her. She is my warrior child. Spankings...she scoffs at spankings. (Actually she spits at me when I spank her. Seriously.) Strong willed is an understatement. I really should blog about her more often so that one day when she's all grown up and a wonderful, productive member of society, I can write a book about raising a warrior child. My challenge, of course is to channel her warrior mentality into (eventually one day) fighting for what's good, fighting for the Lord, fighting for truth in this world. But for now, I'd settle for not fighting with her sister, not fighting with me every time I ask her to pick up her toys, or brush her teeth, or leave her shoes on in the car, or not unbuckle her seatbelt until the engine has cut off. I could go on and on. Everything is a battle. I know she's three. BUT...I've raised a 3 yr old already. I'm telling you. She's different. Even my grandmother, mother of 6, shakes her head at Ashton and just says over and over,"You've got a mind of your own girl." To say the least! Fortunately, she saves all of her fights for me and daddy. She's an absolute angel at school and at church.

I've had to get really creative in disciplining Ashton. The goal is first time obedience, but when you're dealing with a 3 yr old warrior, you can't just simply be a dictator and expect immediate perfection. It ain't gonna happen. Threats don't work. The rod of correction (Rodney) doesn't work. Time outs don't work. I've had to get really creative, or crazy, one of the two. Probably more crazy than anything. I remembered when I was a teacher that the crazier you act, the more the children are intriqued by you and thus the quieter they get and then they simply obey b/c they realize you've gone over the deep end and they're afraid not to obey. So when I was teaching, I would do things like talk to the walls or the clock or the locker or the desk when I was trying to get the class's attention. For example, "Hey there Mr. Clock, are your arms tired yet? Mine sure are! You know what else is tired? Me! I'm tired of waiting for these kids to close their mouths so we can line up for lunch. What's that? You'll freeze time for me? Great. Let's try that..." You get the idea. At first, the kids would all be talking to one another and then they'd see their crazy teacher talking to a clock, so they'd stop long enough to listen and then voila, obedience. I thought, hey if it works on 4th-7th graders, it's BOUND to work on a 3 yr old.

So picture this. 45 Minutes of me hovering over my child who is on the floor asking her to please clean up the mess she's made of paper cuttings on the floor. She's whining, "I can't do it." And I'm saying, "You made the mess, you can clean it up!" Sound familiar? 45 minutes and a few swats from Rodney later....NOTHING. I left the room to re-gain my composure. I cheered myself on from the potty. You can do it Heather! You ARE stronger than a 3 yr old! You CAN win this battle. So I marched myself back into that kitchen and I said turned to look at the wall that Ashton had been leaning up against for 45 minutes and I said, "What's that wall? Ashton did you hear that? That wall is talking?" She slowly started to peak her head out of the ball she was curled up into. "What's that wall? You love holding Ashton up? I love to hold Ashton too. I wish she would let me hold her." Now granted, this was the love of Christ coming out b/c I certainly DID NOT FEEL like being sweet and nice and loving at this point. And I continued to talk to the wall and pretended as though the wall were talking back. I said things like, "I don't think she can pick up those papers either. What, you want to SEE her pick up the papers? Oh I don't know if she can. I sure wish she could though because I would hate for us to all go watch that Christmas movie and drink hot cocoa without her. What wall, you like hot cocoa too? Me too, it's soooooo yummy and with marshmallows and sprinkles on top? YES! Me too!" And then it happened, she started to laugh a little, she even smiled at me, and then she started to clean up her papers. One by one, she picked them up and put them in my hand. I was on the floor with her. Not compromising my expections, she had to do all the work, but I met her half way in that I was on her level, talking in a calm, loving, silly crazy mom way, and it totally worked! It did what 6 spankings and 45 minutes of time out couldn't do! After the papers were all picked up, I scooped her up and loved on her and explained why it was so important to obey mommy and daddy and how we love her too much to let her be disobedient. And then I prayed with her and we asked Jesus to forgive both of us...her for being disobedient and Mommy for losing her patience! I think it's so important that we admit our short comings to our children and that they witness us asking God for forgiveness. And then there was that time of sweet and tender love and affection afterwards to mend both of our broken hearts.

And since that incident, rather than resorting to what doesn't work with her (spankings and time outs) I've challenged myself to get more creative and loony tuny with her and do things like tickle her into submission or sing a crazy song that makes her WANT to do what I've asked her to do. And it has worked.

Last night, I was thinking back to when a guy in our church gave me a card with Ashton's name on it and he said while he was mowing the grass, God gave him this word on Ashton. It said, "God's mighty warrior". You can read about that blog post here. I cling to that promise during these toddler years that one day, all of this will and fight will be channeled the right way. But getting there, LORD help me!


laytonfamily said...

Good for you - great post!

My son, follower - I mean he'll follow anyone's lead be it good or bad! That's one reason why I homeschool - he just wants to follow. And if it's funny, goodness - he's all over it. And I know one day he'll be following Jesus - but right now, it's a head ache breaking all the things he wants to bring home because he's seen someone else do it - be it t.v., church, or the store!

And I applaud you for finding another way of disciplining rather than just beating her more. "Break their will" ends up exaspirating - I know first hand!

Stephanie said...

Funny! It made me think of the show "Are You Smarter Than a th Grader." You should be the host of, "Can you outsmart a 3 year old."

BTW, I need that "Obedient" speech to use on my own kids.

The Mitchells said...

You are a wonderful mother, Heather!! I have one of those "warrior" three year olds myself. I ask myself and God daily what I did to deserve these battles (a few things come to mind...). Anyway, I like how you handled it and I'm going to try to dish out my own bit of crazy with Cade...other than the crazy mom who screams and then spanks...which happens more than I would like to admit to!

circus of love said...

I sure needed to hear this. I have been wondering if I was going to go absolutely insane with some issues with my kids. I couldn't think of anything else to do...spanking, lectures, quoting Bible scripture, praying with them, spanking, yelling, actually taking away ballet. So I like this crazy creativeness. I have asked God for wisdom but I need to ask him for more creativity TOO!!!
I love it.

Ashley said...

I used to talk to walls...but I was in 7th grade. My science teacher moved me to the back of the room to face the wall because I was talking too much. I had to make my statement, so I started talking to the wall. Oh yeah, that got me sent to the office with a referral.

Every time my kids act up I say, "you make me sad when you act up. I raised better boys than that and it hurts mommy's feelings when you act bad, do you like to hurt mommy's feelings" They usually say no and act a little better...for the time being. I also tell them when they act bad in public, it makes mommy and daddy look bad. It has worked for now, but they're young...I have a feeling they will realize I'm playing them. I guess I will have to learn to talk to walls again!

Rhonda C said...

I Love it, love it! I love you guys. You are such a wonderful mommy, and I appreciate your sharing this. I knew it was gonna be good!

Can't wait to see you!