Friday, July 8, 2005

Don't Laugh When Disciplining Your 5-Year Old

Not too long ago, we laid down the law for Sweet Girl. You see, the girl can talk. She can talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, TALK. Normally this isn't a problem. When you're the mother to a child like this, you get really good at listening, interjecting the expected comment at the right time ("Oh really? Your toys told you that they want to go McDonald's, huh? That's interesting) while doing a myriad of other motherly tasks.

It is a problem, though, when it comes to dinner time. Sweet Girl is a tiny thing. At age five, she weighs all of 34 pounds. Although we don't make her a member of the "clean plate club" (since we don't want her to get "food issues"), we do expect that when it is dinner time she will eat. It's a little thing, really. Just eat, honey.

So we laid down the law. If we had to tell her three times during the meal to stop talking and start eating, she would need to leave the table and go to bed without the rest of her supper. We've had to carry through on the consequences a few times now.

Well, the other night we were having a very good dinner which she really likes; penne with marinara sauce and salad with all the really good vegetables including broccoli and avocado (Sweet Girl's favorites). After receiving two warnings that she needed to stop talking and start eating (I believe one admonishment was "I need to see less words coming out of your mouth and more food going into it"), Champs decided it was time for another one of his amazingly effective "daddy/daughter talks". He had her come to his seat and he put her in his lap.

He explained the importance of eating a full diet. She got that. He explained that the rules wouldn't change and reminded her of the consequences of her choices. She got that. He told her to go back to her seat and "eat up your dinner". To which she lifted up her shirt, pointed to her little belly and said "but Daddy, my tummy is all squishy!

Champs tried, but he just. couldn't. make. it.

He laughed at her antics. He managed to recapture the "authoritarian" look and get her back into her chair. She even ate her dinner without further intervention.

But that twinkle in her eye told me that his discipline wasn't as effective as it would have been if he hadn't laughed.

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