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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Helping her get her way

It's a common parenting adage to say things like, "You have to teach them that they can't always have their way."

I say poo poo on this idea. I prefer to teach my daughter that she can get her way. Instead of being the bad guy and making up arbitrary lessons to knock her down, I'd like to help her learn when it is appropriate to insist on her own way, and when it is appropriate to step aside, or share, or let someone else have a turn.

I like this idea because I think in the long run, while it may not always make for a well-behaved child, it will make for a more empathic person who knows how to stand up for herself. And that's my goal, to raise a happy, functioning adult, not to have a kid who knows how to mind her P's and Q's, although, that would certainly be a nice bonus.

Yesterday I was stuck on the couch watching a video on an endless loop for about an hour and a half because Annika was exhausted and she fell asleep while nursing, catching me unawares, because she'd already had a nap.

It was late afternoon and she kept asking to nurse. I nursed her in bed for a while, but she seemed bored. So we got up. I thought her stomach was hurting her and I had her lie down on the couch and I covered her up with a blanket, which she seemed to like. But after a couple of rounds of this, she asked me to nurse again.

At first I said, "Oh no, we're done nursing for now. Would you like some water?"

"No!" she emphatically stated.


"No, you can have some water or some food. Do you want some yogurt?" I offered.

"Nuse! Nuse!" she cried. Her body stiffened up and she started to cry.

I reached out for her to hug her. She turned away.

I watched her for a minute.

All the different parenting voices shouted at me.

"You have to stand firm. When tell a child no, you have to mean it. Be consistent."

"But she really seems to need to nurse."

I gave in and nursed her. I've been doing that a lot lately, giving in. Letting her "have her way," whatever that means. I don't understand why parents think that if you let a kid win an argument or give in to a demand that is somehow bad parenting. Personally, I think that's a good way to teach a kid that they will never get what they want.

I was so glad I did give in yesterday, because she was on the verge of a major tummy ache, one that lasted all day today. We spent the whole day on the couch, sleeping and nursing. She barely ate. But she nursed a ton. She was having terrible pains throughout the day. When one would come on, I'd rush to her side, or hold her tight if I was already there. And by the end of the day, she started yelling for me, "Mommy!" And reach out to me. She didn't need me to be there. But she wanted me to be next to her.

I like that. I like helping my daughter. I like seeing the proof that she knows she can count on me.

And yes. I like helping her "get her way." I hope she always gets what she wants in life.

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