Sunday, February 17, 2008

Setting Limits


See this picture? Ian is extremely sad. But, aha, he's getting a lesson in planning ahead.

We are at a park having a picnic. Both Ian and Laurel are eager to finish eating so they can attack the playground equipment. Ian declares, "I'm finished."

His sandwich is only half eaten, and he has barely touched his carrots or chips. Paul and I comment, "Ian, you will not be able to eat later, so you must finish your lunch now. Do you understand?"

"I understand, I'm done. I want to go play."

I really don't want to argue with him and force him to eat, so I view this as a learning opportunity. We allow Ian to make this choice, and off he heads towards the playground. Laurel is soon in hot pursuit, but being a faster eater, she has already consumed twice as much as Ian.

The two of them have a great time running, climbing and sliding. All too soon, it is time to head home. As we load our little family into the van, Ian asks, "Mommy, can I eat the rest of my lunch now?"

I cringe as I hear the inevitable. Sadly, I respond, "No, Ian. We already ate lunch, but you can drink your water."

"No, mommy, I want to eat my lunch!"

His voice starts to go up an octave, and his breathing gets heavier.

"I'm sorry Ian, lunch time is over." And with that, we buckle up the the kids and drive home. Ian's cries for food continues. Paul and I try our best to not respond. Many thoughts cross my mind about being a bad parent because I am starving my child. As doubt sets in, I look to Paul for reassurance. He looks at me and shakes his head. I take this to mean I should not give in.

Ian continues to cry for about five minutes, and then relaxes. We start to talk about the fun things we did that day and sing some songs. The moment has passed, but hopefully the lesson has stuck. I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.

14 comments:

Bloggy Mama said...

I detest the follow through. Good for you.

Guinevere Meadow said...

That must have been so HARD! But good for you for sticking to your guns!! Have you read the book "Parenting with Love and Logic"? It's GREAT and encourages parents to do exactly what you did.

I hope I have the same kind of strength when Lance is older...

Rachel said...

Alyssa's pediatrician always tells us that no child has ever starved to death from missing one or two meals.

I agree with how you handled it. If you were to have given in, he would have done it again. We do the same thing at our house.

Anonymous said...

I approve. Well done, you. A note: YOU did not starve the boy. He decided to leave his meal, despite being warned. Agreed, he probably didn't really understand what the consequences would be -- but until he's experienced them, he never will!

He may or may not get it next time, but you'll be able to remind him of this time. "Remember when you were so hungry in the car?" He'll get there. It won't take too long.

Maryp

Kellie said...

Following up is always the hardest!! And, as Rachel said...no kid is going to die from missing a meal or two. What you and Paul did is a good thing.

The picture IS heart breaking, though!

Ms. Huis Herself said...

Yay for you! The follow-through is the toughest, but I'll bet he'll remember at your next playground picnic... or if not, he will with a small reminder about "the time he was SO hungry in the car."

I'll be thinking of you the next time I've got to stick to my guns with my 3 year old!

kittenpie said...

here from Mary P...
It is sometimes so hard to follow through in the face of the wailing and tiny niggling self-doubt, but good for you for sticking to your point.

Dani said...

Good for you. It's so hard to stand up to them. We do the same thing and it's so helpful when your spouse is on the same page.

Florinda said...

MaryP sent me, and I'm glad she did. Good for you. Sticking to your word is difficult sometimes, but if you don't set a precedent for it early on, it's harder to get kids to take it seriously later.

And it's true that a missed meal - or in this case, just part of one - won't hurt a child all that badly; with luck, they'll be hungrier and eat better at the next one.

My Kids' Mom said...

visiting via MaryP also.

I'm amazed that you got a photo. If I even try to take a picture of my tantruming kids, the situation escalates and they're furious. However those are some of the moments we'll treasure when they're older as well as the happy ones we usually photograph.

Ki said...

Bravo!

gwendomama said...

hooray for the limit setting! hooray for the mean parents! (just kidding - that's what my friends and i joke about as we jockey for the strictest parent position amongst an army of child-led parenting dummies!)

Lady M said...

Good for you! It's so hard to do. I took Q's markers away after he drew on the couch and haven't given them back yet. He has to tell me where he's allowed to draw (on paper) a few more times first. Sigh.

And a shout-out from Mary P - cool!

carrie said...

Good job mama!

Being consistent and following through are two of the toughest things about parenting, but, in my opinion, two of the most important!