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March 09, 2015

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Wait, please, slow down! Can you explain more what inhabiting your authority means, before caveat-ing? What does it look like? Because lord knows I expect to be obeyed, and yet... I am not. I have a NOPE kid, and I hate the threats and bribes and consequences - but they work for him; he likes them. So what would authority look like without them, when you ARE wrangling and you ARE trying to just get home for dinner sometime this century?

I'm with Rachel. I would love to hear some specific examples of how you handle things on your best days. My kids are 8 and 5 and I have one "nope" kid and one "say yes but then do what I want" kid.

It's all good, Jamie! You are a thoughtful and loving mom. You're doing fine! I've never commented before but am going to chime in now.

You're right, leadership in parenting works much better than bribes and threats, especially in the kind of scenario you described. Spoken from a mom of eight, ages, 22 down to 2.

Agreed. Bring a granola bar for a hungry swimmer. Help them get into their dry things, if that's in order. Even six or seven year olds like the extra help if they are tired/hungry/worn out.

I like to see leadership and also "get off your butt-parenting" (especially in the early years... things do change with older children). I much prefer to see gentle help to the child (to obey you) than sit there and expect the impossible or what isn't happening, (or take an antagonistic attitude against the child). A little bit of gentle help to them to follow-through on what you've asked. "Go get your shoes on" if they aren't doing it, help the small child go get them, and put them on. Give the minimal amount of help needed, but cheerfully and gently make it happen.

Another example, "we're leaving the park in one minute... it's time to go home now." Don't sit there and have high-level negotiations with a toddler after that. You are going home, as you've said. If they aren't coming, you smile, and take the child's hand, or pick up the child if necessary, not because you're mad, but because you are going home, and it's time to get on the road. That is just how it is. Offer a heart-felt compassionate comment. "I am sorry that it is hard to leave when you're having so much fun" (and mean it! Think of how disappointing it truly is!!) "But we need to go home now and get dinner ready for daddy." For an eight year old, perhaps it could be a friendly competition - "race you to the car!" (I know, probably not possible with baby in arms!)

Compassionate and loving parental authority can help foster a sense of security for the child, and "serene order."

But for the parents of creepers and crawlers (one of yesterday's commenters), it's your job to keep them safe, and structure their environment to be safe for them to explore. And then take charge for what needs to happen (get them buckled into the car seat or whatever). My opinion is that obedience is not something to even begin to expect until about 1 1/2 or 2 yrs and to gradually develop as they grow older.

off my soap box.

You're fine, Jamie. No more early-morning regrets! You ARE a good mom!!

Love,
Carol

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