It's always nice when a "specialist" discovers an explanation to some frustrating or bizarre child behavior, naturally an annoying habit that one of my children have. Stuff like why my children refuse to nap even though they are exhausted? Or why they think it's okay to eat a cracker they find on the floor (Grosssss). OR, why my children just don't listen to anything I say (over and over and over again infinity times 12 thousand and one).
Like this morning:
"Son, please get your shoes on. We need to leave"
"Daughter, put your coat on. It's cold out."
"Baby Girl, please stop playing with your horsey and go potty."
"Daughter, the coat. Now, please. We're late." (me putting her arms into her coat)
"Son, the shoes" (me tossing them to him once again)
"Baby Girl, did you go potty yet? Put the horse down and ..." (me dragging her to the toilet)
Now I recently read somewhere online (can't recall where, but if I need to, I can search it out) . . . anyway, some researcher says my children are not intentionally trying to push me over the edge (really??). What they are really doing when I think they are blatantly ignoring me is taking all my directions, helpful suggestions, and words of wisdom and filing them away in their little kidlet brains until later.
A lot later.
Like teenage later.
Okay, maybe not that much later, but you get the point.
You see, children's brains simply do not work the way adult brains do (and I needed a researcher to tell me this??).
They can't take information from the present and use it 'proactively' for the future. So, tiny kids neither plan for the future nor live completely in the present. Instead, they call up the past as they need it. (Got that??)
The example that the researcher gave was similar to what happened this morning with the winter coat and my 7 year old and the shoes with my 9 year old and the toilet with my 4 year old. (I could go on here)
"Let's say it's cold outside and I tell my 4 year old to go get her jacket out of coat closet and get ready to go outside,"
the researcher says. "You might expect the child to plan for the future, think 'okay it's cold outside so the jacket will keep me warm'. "But what researchers suggest is that this isn't what goes on in a 4-year-old's brain. Rather, they run outside, discover that it is cold, and then retrieve the memory of where their jacket is, and then they go get it."
A better way to reason with a toddler with selective hearing?
"Somehow try to trigger this reactive function," the (obviously childless) researcher suggests. "Don't do something that requires them to plan ahead in their mind, but rather try to highlight the conflict that they are going to face. Perhaps you could say something like 'I know you don't want to take your coat now, but when you're standing in the yard shivering later, remember that you can get your coat from the closet."
I had to try this new approach. Let's see if it works ...
"Dear Daughter, please put your boots on before going and splashing in the big puddle left in our yard from all the rain and warm weather that melted all the snow in our back yard and left our yard a big, muddy landslide."
"Dear Daughter, I know you don't want to put your boots on, but when you go outside and slip and slide and fall in the mud and get your bottom all wet and your hands all wet and you start to freeze and you come running inside dripping wet and cold and freezing and crying and I have to undress you and wash all your muddy clothes and give you a bath . . . please remember that Momma told you that you should have put your boots on."
"Whoops. See! Well, maybe you'll remember to trigger your reactive function next time."
Somehow, I think I'll stick to my old method and let my kids continue to ignore me.
Would this method work for you? C'mon, really?