Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Working on His Grateful

For many reasons I want my boy to be thankful for, and positive about, the things that he has, rather than the things that he does not.

That is huge picture thinking I suppose, and I am unsure how much of an impact I, or anyone else, can actually have on this particular character trait.

That typed, it is still something I desire for my son, and feel it would be a way of thinking that will him keep him sane, and not bitter, throughout his life.

He often hears me say; “focus on the positive.” And when I detail stories down to their most basic, I often ask “Is one better than none?” or similar positive poser reminders.

Max’s determination does need any help from me, as he has demonstrated both physically and, he continues to do on an almost daily basis, phonetically.

He is very stubborn rigid of mind, and difficult to dissuade once a decision has been made. A trait that will serve him in good stead, but sometimes a challenge for me as his parent.

His grandparents, bless them, spoil him rotten, which I have grown to have no problem with. I think they are teaching a lesson to Junior by pretty much always buying him something when he is in their care, that some people, and situations, can be manipulated to your advantage.

They also reward positive behaviour, and still negotiate with him, albeit from very weak stances, but they are getting him to think and act positively.

My only real concern for them, is that Max will start to take them for granted, and it will be the gifts that he desires, rather than the actual company of his loving grandparents.

But that is not my problem.

On a practical level their approach lends to me the opportunity to teach the opposite. We have had a couple of incidents recently where I have had to deal out such lessons.

We had a lovely afternoon at one of our favourite places to visit, then when it came for the time to leave, my son decided we must go to the shop to buy something. I took exception to this attitude, and informed him of my frugal policy of not buying things for merely the sake of it.

He tried everything, listing random things the shop might stock that he needed. I pulled his arguments apart with vigour, insisting he had plenty of toys at home that he needed to be grateful for.

We were at an impasse.

But I stood firm, and the tantrum started, tears on the car park, bad mouthing of existing toy stocks, and the odd ‘I don’t like you’ jibe.

I thanked him for expressing his thoughts, and also for confirming that I had made the right decision earlier.

He was delighted with that.

Calm was restored eventually, and the lesson has been somewhat heeded, as now, even though he still tries, his requests are more specific, and he better justifies his desires, and we do not get huge problems when I stick to my policy.

There was another opportunity last week, when my mother, his grandmother, decided it was wise to give him a small packet of sweets about 30 minutes before dinner.

In a quandary, fearing that a straight ‘no’ would bring upset that would make dinner consumption difficult and unlikely, or that a straight ‘yes’ would set a dangerous precedent and also impact on the amount of dinner that would be eaten, I made a quick decision on a compromise.

“You can have them, as long as you give me one.”

We spent the next ten minutes or so, that felt like an age, arguing about this. And when I type arguing, not so much an argument, more me repeating myself, repeating myself.

The boy was not having it, and was not keen to choose between the two options I had given him; none, or the contents minus one.

He looked to his grandparents for support, but they knew better than to interfere in our abode, and I think they were on my side in any case.

Eventually he made the right call, and through a few remaining tears, started to pick which of these sugary treat he was going to pass to his dad.

Ridiculously he gave me two, after all the fuss he had made over just giving up one, he actually ended up sharing more, the lovely daft apeth.

Demonstrating two very strong sides of himself, over one tiny packet of Haribo. I could have munched him, not the sweets.

He even apologised at bed time, and I reassured him there was no need for an apology, more that he is learning all the time, and that I could understand why he would want all these things for himself.



Kerrie said...

Sounds like Max is learning well, even the tough lessons. I detest those attractions where you have to walk through the gift shop to exit the building and used to try and avoid them if I could. You are a good parent Ian, you and Max will both reap the rewards of a litle "tough" parenting.

Somewhat off-topic...

Am rather concerned about the cricket, I assume you have been watching..?? It's easy to win when the umpire is on your side though. It's on through the night here and we have had too many very late nights caught up with it...glad for a few days break.

SciFi Dad said...

I've written about this subject before, how I want my children to appreciate what they have and not always want "more". It's a fine line to walk between giving them the moon (as all parents want to do) and teaching them gratefulness. It seems like you're going about it the right way though.

Smitten by Britain said...

I don't blame him for hogging the Haribo.

You're concern about always expecting gifts from the grandparents is a valid one. It happened with my parents despite all my warnings. They would not stop and eventually Ian expected to be given something on every visit. Indeed, he began expecting something every time we went to the shops too. What I eventually started doing was preparing him before our outing by letting him know the expectations up front. I would say something like "we're going to the supermarket and all we are getting is milk and bread. No sweets or toys." That way he didn't go with the hope of getting something and was disappointed. I won't say it always worked, but worked more than not.

With all that said, this is a tough lesson to teach in today's world when other children are getting everything they want. I'm still dealing with it seventeen years on.

Potty Mummy said...

Oh, the grandparents... We have that impasse too - mainly with my mother-in-law, who will happily hand out adult sized portions of ice-cream 45 minutes before dinner. After the sugar and fat high hit last time though, along with tantrums and tears, I think my husband will finally be supporting me in declining on my son's behalf in future...

Mrs OMG Pregnant said...

Wow.... so much to think about. Parenthood scares me. I suspect my inlaws will spoil the bean rotten, so i guess like you are obviously doing so well, my approach needs to be considered. Pat on the back for you - your analysis of it all needs to be applauded.

Jo Beaufoix said...

We have these issues too and to be honest it's been tougher since Mr B and I split. I think I'm getting there now but I have been giving into them a little more than I usually would.

Mr B's Mum regularly plies them with sweets etc and even brings their pudding out with their dinner at times, but Mr B and I had kind if accepted this, and now I am not there with them when they see their Grandma I just have to trust that Mr B ensures they do not eat until they explode. (He will. He's a good Dad.)

I love that he gave you two. That made me melt a little bit. What a sweetie. And I call my two 'daft apeths', or dafties too. My Mum always called it us when we were little and it's perfect. :D

(And how cool are the new Blu Ray's?) :D

Lady Mama said...

I like how patient and thoughtful you are with your son. My oldest is 2 and we're not near the negotiating stage yet. I have a feeling it's going to be very interesting. I also like the "focus on the positive" message, it's a good sentiment for later on.

Not a soccer mom said...

wow! you are such a great dad- in the long run you will see the results. Keep up the good work.
I would usually matter-of-factly place the treat in eye shot but out of reach and say what a lovely treat for dessert - after dinner.

I love the way you parent!

Single Parent Dad said...

Kerrie - They do that everywhere now don't they? The naughty scamps.

SciFi Dad - I certainly hope so.

Smitten - Upfront is a good plan.

Potty - Genius aren't they?

OMG - Indeed you should be, but you'll be fine.

Jo B - I think as long as it doesn't happen in your house, it's 'OK'. Giving me two did show his brighter side.

Lady Mama - Thanks

Not a soccer mom - Thank you, my son doesn't always agree.

Post a Comment