Teachable Moments

August 18th, 2011

When parenting a toddler, it’s good to think of mistakes and misbehavior as “learning opportunities” or “teachable moments.” It helps you to not lose your mind when your child goes off the rails.  So let’s just say that Miss Mouse had a chance to learn a lot yesterday morning.

We’re working hard to bring Mouse’s whining under control.  She has this nerve-grating habit of expressing all her wishes/desires/needs in a tearful whine.  I know it’s par for the course for a child her age, but that doesn’t mean I should accept that behavior!

Thus, I repeat the following phrase about a hundred times a day – “Honey, how do you think you should ask when you want something?”

And when that doesn’t work, I follow it up with — “Sweetheart, if you need to whine and cry for a while, I’d like you to go do it in your room.”

At breakfast yesterday morning, nothing was going right for my girl.  She didn’t like the color of the bowl for her cereal. She wanted her blueberries in their own bowl, not on the cereal.  She wanted to drink milk out of a full-sized juice glass (like mommy), not her little plastic cup.  It got ugly, so we excused her from the table and plopped her in her room with an invitation to return when she was ready to eat.

She didn’t return.

She flounced and stomped and fussed and fumed and sulked for twenty minutes, by which point Buggie and I were done eating and ready to leave for daycare.  So Josh and I packed up diaper bags, bottle bags, swim suits, and the myriad accouterments that accompany children on the move, and announced that it was time to go.

At that point, Miss Mouse decided that she was starving.  But we held fast: breakfast time was over.  (Fear not, she eats again at school about 30 minutes after she arrives.)  Oh, the heartbreak.  The tears.  The remorse.

It’s hard for me to stand firm when my daughter is sobbing — as a mom, I’m genetically wired that way!  But what a teachable moment.  It offered her a chance to see the logical consequences of a decision she made, while I could offer empathy and support.  “I know, baby.  I was sad not to get to eat breakfast with you today, too.  I hope you’ll join me at the table tomorrow.”

And you know what?  This morning was much better.

One response to “Teachable Moments”

  1. Isa says:

    glad to hear it works! I started taking this tack with Tuesday when I was staying with them last week (she has discovered the temper tantrum, which is only worse when your entire vocabulary consists of about 10 words, half of which appear to be 'no', 'down', and 'my turn'). I felt like a jerk, but it looked like it was working…

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