If You're Going To Comply, Don't Complain

This is one of my favorite parenting rules, but it's not always easy for me to follow.

 Being a parent is both invigorating and exhausting.  Not only in the physical sense (I'm thinking about the backyard games of "You Can't Catch Me" with Lauren, who is 3-and-a-half years old, while constantly dashing back to Kate, 9 months, in the baby swing) but also in the mental sense.  You pretty much always have to be on your game and ready to respond.  

Kids are constantly asking for things.  They need.  They want.  They demand.  One of my favorite rules to follow (or try to) when Lauren asks for something is if I'm going to comply with her request, I'm not going to complain.  I learned the lesson by witnessing another mom at a park break that rule.  Her child asked if he could go back to the playground.  Her reply was a pretty annoyed, "Really?  Now you want to go back to the playground when I'm ready to leave?  Fine."   She complied, but she also complained, which in a weird way can be empowering to some kids.  That kind of talk can make other kids feel bad.  I'm sure that I am guilty of my own moments of dramatic sighs in response to requests.

This parental rule can be especially difficult to follow when you think your child is asking for something they don't really need.  That issue at our house right now is trips to the potty right after bedtime.  Lauren has reading light that switches off automatically at a given time. Without fail, as soon as that goes off, she wants another trip to the potty with my assistance.  She may have gone as recent as 10 minutes before, but she always wants at least one more trip.  While it can be frustrating, especially at the end of a tiring day, I take a moment before responding to her request to keep any complaining on my part at bay, because I know I'm going to comply.  After all, I don't want to discourage her from going to the potty before she falls asleep. Soon enough, we'll have to encourage her to get to the potty on her own.  

The footnote to the "if you're going to comply, don't complain" rule is that if you don't know how to respond to a need/want/demand, you can always say, "Let me think about it."  While kids want answers right away, they're not necessarily entitled to them.  Lauren did not love it when I started giving her that response, but she quickly got used to it.  Especially since I always do give her an  answer, one way or another. 

 

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