Last month, as part of my flurry of life transitions, I decided to decrease Laurel’s preschool schedule so we could spend more time together.
The first week of the new schedule I was terrified that I had made a horrible, horrible mistake. In addition to finding myself amidst a bad week replete with personal and professional self-doubt, Laurel began presenting with some startling Jekyll and Hyde moments. In retrospect, quantitatively, her sweet moments far outweighed the nasty ones, but the nasty ones really made an impact.
As someone who believes in positive energy, good mojo and the like, one of the most challenging aspects of parenting a headstrong, adventurous preschooler is dealing with the “no” factor (whether it’s her or me saying it). I found that on my end, “no” became a reflexive response to all things dangerous or troublesome but I disliked charging our interactions with that sort of negativity, plus it didn’t seem to be getting me anywhere.
ParentCenter provides some useful tips on alternatives to “no.” And while it definitely takes extra brain power to inhibit the “no” response and rephrase statements in a positive orientation, we’ve had success diffusing potential battles with this method, or by offering choices, or just by asking Laurel about something completely unrelated (i.e., distraction method). Positiveparenting.com also offers a helpful feature on coping with power struggles; I especially liked the analogy of refusing to “pick up the other end of the rope” of a power struggle; that by side stepping the battle you are able to convey that you aren’t going to fight, hurt, overpower, or give in to them.