Way back before I had kids I went to college. I majored in Psychology and took classes in Child Psychology, Child Development, Family Management (as part of my minor), and the like. I LOVED these classes. In fact, had I tried to get my Master’s in one of these areas instead of Social Work I may have actually finished the degree. After taking all of these classes (not to mention all the bazillion parenting magazines I had read), I had a picture of the ideal parent fixed in my mind. I had all these ideas, thoughts, and plans for how I would parent my own child someday.
Then I had kids.
And all those ideas, thoughts, and plans when down the drain.
I have since remembered what many of my teachers (and other parents) also tried to teach me. Every kid is different. They all develop in their own time. They all have different personalities and different ways of understanding the world. They all have to be dealt with on an individual basis. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another one.
Also, there is no such thing as the ideal parent. That would have been helpful to know, say, 3 years and 10 months ago. I think my son could give even the best of parents a run for their money. I spent the longest time trying to figure out just where my “perfect” parenting skills had gone wrong before realizing that parenting just can’t change a child’s personality. You would think all of my classes could have taught me that, huh?
Zach is what some would call a “spirited” child. He’s amazingly bright and has an incredible imagination, but if you say the wrong word or move the wrong way he goes totally ballistic. The hardest part is that you never really know what it is going to be that sets him off. He’s also obsessed with TV.
I’ve tried different methods of dealing with his outbursts without much luck. We’ve tried positive reinforcement, removing him from the situation, yelling, spanking, behavior charts, letting him scream it out, etc. The one thing that always, without a doubt, will calm him is to turn on the TV (assuming you have chosen the correct show for that moment in time). Want him to pick up his toys? Reward him with TV. Want him to eat his dinner? Reward him with TV. Want to get him dressed in the morning? Reward him with TV. Want to see a tantrum? Turn off the TV before his show is done. It drives me crazy but it works.
I’d hate to hear what Supernanny would have to say about this.
Yes, I’ve read the reports about how bad TV is for kids. But, a mother who is insane from screaming and tantrums is most likely bad for the kids too. If TV keeps my sanity intact for a little longer, then by all means I’m going to let the kid watch TV.
That’s one of the reasons why I broke my own rule (no TV in bedrooms or playrooms) last week and finally decided to put a TV (with DVD player only) in the kids’ play room. Daddy (ok, and Mommy) likes the TV too and I’m not really interested in listening to them argue about who gets to watch the TV any more. It’s all about keeping the peace. Zach can now watch his DVD’s pretty much any time he wants to (with obvious exceptions of dinner, bed time, etc.) on his own TV.
So far he has watched exactly one movie on his TV the day we set it up.
He didn’t ask for it even once over the weekend.