Monday, January 28, 2008

Hugs and Kisses

My wife and I don’t believe in spanking our kids. Our two main weapons of attitude correction are time outs in the corner and taking treasures away from our little lovelies. Basically they are good kids but they are also siblings. Siblings are genetically driven to bounce on each other’s head at regular intervals. At 4 and 5, we usually only send them in to the corner for a couple of minutes. That is (usually) enough time from them to be distracted from experimenting on ways to convert their sister’s head into a beanbag chair or to forget exactly why their heads hurt. Occasionally, a couple of minutes is not enough time for my wife and I to remember that we do not believe in spanking. Those are the times I send them into the corner until “I’m grown up enough to stop being mad.”

On the rare Sunday afternoon where our little lovelies are more familiar with the corner than with the look of adoration from their father, I get a taste for everything princess and fairy. I have literally emptied a bedroom of anything with a princess or fairy on it. That particular room has a princess bed and fairy stickers on the dressers. My daughter finally left the corner to find her room empty of everything except a rug and a chair that was too awkward for me to carry without damaging the walls. Unfortunately, I did not know about the chairs ability to damage plaster before I entered that room. I was in the empty room arranging blankets, some of our few blankets without princess or fairies on it, on the floor for her to sleep on. My daughter cried. I cried because the antique dresser was heavier than my back was ready for and the glider put a hole in the plaster.

With my point made, I relaxed a little. My daughter really wanted all of her things back into her room. I wanted them back in her room as they were now between my bedroom door and my bed. We allowed my daughter to negotiate getting her things back before bedtime. She had to apologize and stay off of her sister’s head long enough for my back to stop throbbing. I’ve now learned to both confine my princess and fairy escalation policies to less massive items and to lift with my knees, not my back.

It has recently come to light that my lovely wife has a different escalation policy while I’m at work. My five foot one wife does not remove beds or furniture. She does not threaten to put a bed and a port-a-potty in the corner. My wife makes our little lovelies explain why they aren’t making the best decisions at the moment. On the surface this sounds like a reasonable step toward self-correction but my wife has a liberal acceptance policy. She has found the most common reason for head to beanbag conversion at our house is caused by lack of parental hugs and kisses. To correct such a lack requires a child to leave the corner, accept hugs and kisses from the parent with the liberal acceptance policy, and to go off on their merry head sitting way.

I tend to be a “fix it” type of person. By that I don’t mean anyone should trust me with hand tools or nail guns, but I instituted a mandatory parental hugs and kisses policy. I believed addressing the root cause (lack of parental hugs and kisses) would diminish the negative behavior (head sitting). After one week of my new mandatory parental hugs and kisses policy, I have not noted a decline in head to beanbag conversion. Perhaps parental hugs and kisses are cumulative and positive results are still pending. While I wait for measurable positive results, I will not be moving antique dressers but instead will occupying myself with patching plaster walls.

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