Breakin’ the Parenting Laws

As my eldest shouted from the potty, “I did it!  I went potty, mommy!” I debated on whether or not to give the usual reward: chocolate.  It was before 8 am, and I wondered if it was bad to do so.  How can I make sure that the trend would continue?  Positive reinforcement, that’s how.  So I broke our “treat” law and gave in.  That could be what did it for my eldest to potty trained so quick.  Nothing like a little chocolate to help it out.

How many times have you asked yourself the same question?  Is it okay to give in now for my child?  Can we go back to following a rule once its been broken?  I remember my sister explaining that kids don’t form bad habits until after 5 or 6 months old.  All bets were off.  Breastfeeding whenever needed, cuddling in the bed with me so I could get some sleep, and lots of time spent in the swing for a happy baby.  Once the cutoff point neared, I proceeded with caution.  Sleep training ensued, more rigorous rules followed for both myself and the baby.  And as they got older, I wondered how much I needed to extend these rules and laws.  How many times I wondered if I should fight a battle or not.

I can remember several years ago, at my in-laws for Christmas, they have a tradition of setting up all sorts of cookies and goodies.  They are left on the coffee table in the living room, so that if anyone wants to have some, they are there, under Saran wrap, ready to go.  My nephew, who was maybe 2 or 3 at the time, eyed these every time he came into the room.  “It’s Christmas!” my mother-in-law said, as she handed him his 1001th cookie that day.  My sister-in-law shrugged, letting it happen.  At the end of the day, my nephew’s stomach was distended to the point that someone even took a picture.  I didn’t have kids of my own yet, but I knew that I wouldn’t let that happen.  (And I haven’t yet, since we’ve spent two Christmas’ down there with kids.)

Okay, so we’ve established that holidays are an ok time to break the laws.  When your child is sick and they need an extra cuddle or can’t breathe well because of a stuffy nose, its fine to let them sleep on you to feel comfort and for everyone to sleep.  Rewards for potty use, good behavior, or other deemed necessary to give your child that extra incentive to continue the appropriate behavior is also ok.  But what about when your child is screaming for something at a store or party and you are refusing to give it to them?  Do you give in to shut them up?  Do you stick to your guns like all of the parenting books say?  Believe me, its enough to make you second guess every choice you make.  My husband always tells me that its okay for us to make mistakes in our parenting, because we can always change our minds and then go forward from there.  Our kids are versatile, right?  Even if they aren’t, I suppose it does’t matter.  What I tell my kids are mommy and daddy are the bosses, and what we say goes.  Even if it changes day to day based on what we need from our kids.

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