Friday, June 15, 2007

Tough Love ... Love & Logic in Action

Well today was truly a test of my parenting skills. When we returned home from a few errands, I decided to walk down the street about a block to talk with a neighbor briefly. My little buddy toddled along side while the princess elected to ride the tricycle.... without shoes! I suggested she put shoes on but she declined.

We rang the door bell to find no one home and so we proceeded home. Again, my little buddy toddled along. This time, however, the princess decided she didn't want to ride the tricycle any longer. She didn't want to push it either, claiming the pavement was too hot.

A teachable moment!

I informed her that it had been her choice to ride the tricycle and her choice to do so without shoes. It was therefore her responsibility to return the tricycle to its proper location in the garage. It was her choices that got her into this situation and therefore up to her to get herself out. I'd stand by for moral support and verbal suggestions, but I wasn't about to bail her out.

She started to whine and whimper. When I walked away, her cries and protests got louder. Dolores, an elderly neighbor came out of her house to see what the trouble was, spoke with the princess briefly and seeing that I was about 20 meters away, chose to return to her sanctuary.

All the while my little buddy was running up and down the driveways, across the neighborhood lawns and generally being a typical, active little boy. Envision in your mind, Billy, the little guy in Bill Keane's Family Circus cartoons.

About 10 minutes into the ordeal, the princess began to claim she had to go potty. Typical for her... she always has to go when she gets angry. My response, "Well, you better hurry then. Or, if you'd prefer, you can get down off the bike and run home to potty. But, you will still need to go back for the bike when you are done." She, of course, didn't like this one bit. She proceeded to protest and scream variations of, "I can't! I'm too tired. It's too hot. I can't move. My legs are frozen. It hurts. I have a sliver. It's too hard."

Eventually, as I was helping my buddy to clean up a minor mess he made on the garage floor, the princess comes running in as she is holding herself. Apparantly, nature's call couldn't wait any longer. She went in the house briefly and when she returned, she was a little surprised that I meant what I had said earlier in that she would still have to go back for the bike. "If you don't want someone else to take it, Sweetie, you better go get it."

At this point, my buddy spills his little Starbucks drink on the garage floor. Great! Another mess to attend to... as I proceed to take care of yet another mishap, I hear a woman talking with the princess. I go out to see who has come to her aide and I see my girlfriend from 3 houses down pushing the princess on the bike. To the princess, she must have looked like an angel sent from heaven. But, I, being the devil incarnate, stepped in and asked that she not assist the princess. I wanted her to learn that she must take care of herself. That she was highly capable of getting home on her own and that her perdicament was a result of her own choices. At this point, the princess had only to cross the street and get up our driveway (no worries, there is very little traffic).

On a side note, my girlfriend has 3 children (a girl of 5 years, a boy of 3 years, and a newborn girl of about 3 months). One afternoon shortly after the baby was born, we were chatting and she commented that she didn't know what she was going to do when her parents (who'd come up to help when the baby was born) left. Naively, I replied that her eldest would certainly be a big help. "Are you kidding?" was her response. "She can't even dress herself!" Oh my. Donald is definately right when he says in his recent post Instant Karma, Slow Nirvana, "Every one of us – whether we realize it or not – is in training for something. All of the small actions and decisions we made in the past, and continue today, impact the people we will become tomorrow." However, I think it is much bigger than that. I believe that the small actions and decisions we make not only impact us as individuals, but also impact our children and the adults they will become.

In addition to her cries of helplessness and protest, the princess kept asking me to help her. "I want you to help me! I can't do it myself!" All the while I kept reminding her that she simply needed to change her attitude. Attitude happens to be the new theme at her dojo (karate school). As I saw it, this was the perfect opportunity to teach her the value of a postitive attitude. I thereby encouraged her to change her mindset. "Instead of screaming, 'I can't!' Try screaming, 'I can do it. I know I can.' It is all a matter of changing your attitude."

After about 30 minutes... she finally reached the garage. I picked her up and gave her a huge hug. "You did it, Sweetie! You did it yourself. I knew you could. Great job! Your brother is out in the backyard playing. Would you like to join him?" She asked for a sippy cup of lemonade. "Sure thing! Do you want to help me make it?"


  1. You are a great mom, and your daughter is precious :-)

  2. Hi - Sorry it took me a while to get back to this. I'm right there with you in the "let the kids figure it out for themselves" camp. It sounds like you've got the right attituide about those teachable moments, too.

    Thanks for the link!

  3. Excellent! Pat youself on the back for a stellar parenting moment - especially when you asked your friend to let the princess fend for herself. Good job Mom!

  4. You are a GREAT mommy. What a valuable thing you taught Little Princess. I wish more moms were like you, hell I wish I was like you! Thanks for the inspiring story. And the first picture of her is absolutely precious, with her feet propped up on her trike. Aaaaaw.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.