06 December 2007

Raising Mini-Me

The older my daughter gets, the more amazed I am at how God has seemed to put all of my personality into that tiny little bundle of firecracker and energy. She is a pure and perfect miniaturization of me in all its glory and irritation.

Which spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E. By nature, I'm very bossy and stubborn. Unless you're paying me (e.g., my boss), you cannot make me do anything; you have to convince me of it. I'm a quick decisionmaker and once I've decided, can rarely be convinced to take the opposite tack. And I'm not book-smart but am extremely savvy and aware of my surroundings.

The description above also describes DD to a tee. You cannot TELL her to wear THESE pants; you have to give her the option of wearing this or this, and hope she picks the one you want her to wear. When I take her and her brother to Borders, bro takes a million years and has to look at every book before he decides what to buy, and I often have to threaten him of abandonment in the bookstore unless he picks his book within the next five minutes. DD? No such problem. She usually snatches the first book she sees and doesn't change her mind even when presented with more options. And at the same age (she is four), her older brother was already doing simple math. She can't be bothered with it. But she is the one who never needs to be prompted on her morning or evening routines, has no problem following multi-step directions (unlike her bro) and doesn't get distracted from completing a task or errand that I've asked her to do.

DH and I had a discussion last night about raising a girl like me her. He already anticipates future battles as she and I butt heads and face-off with our stubborn streaks. I do too. But I kind of got an epiphany last night. When DH asked me, "Well, how are you going to handle it?" in reference to my future disagreements with DD, I paused, thought about it, and answered, "I'm going to treat her the way I wish my parents had treated me."

What do I mean by that exactly?

Well, my parents never discussed anything with me. Decisions that concerned me were handed down like the pope's edict, from what I wore to what I ate. They also never felt the need to explain their decisions to me. While that was all well and good when I was a wee tyke, it presented problems for them later on, especially during the ol' stormy adolescent years. I rebelled mightily by getting bad grades, moving far away from home during college, and dating a string of guys who I knew they didn't approve of (although to their credit, they never said a word. If they had, I might have married Mr. Wrong).

While I'm not saying I'm going to discuss every tiny bit of decision I make concerning DD, I do think I'm better armed with how to deal with a precocious kid like her. For example, when she insists on doing something I know she shouldn't be doing, (e.g., wearing a short-sleeved shirt in the dead of winter), instead of insisting she do as I say, I put on a sad face and say, "Oh, okay. That's too bad. Because if you do that, you won't get _____" (insert something she really, really wants, e.g., desert or a bath instead of a shower). If she wants that thing badly enough, then she'll comply. If she doesn't, then I'll up the ante (and keep withholding stuff) until she sees the light.

This technique avoids the back-and-forth yelling I used to do with my own mom. She never gave in and neither did I, which resulted in days (and sometimes weeks) of silent treatment by each other to each other. Hopefully, this technique will also teach my DD the concept of consequences, as in "If you do X, then Y will happen."

Will it work? We'll see in another six to eight years or so. In the meantime, I'm surely enjoying her antics and discussing with her why she needs to wear socks in the wintertime.


Anonymous said...

We're trying the same thing with our daughter. But I feel so inexperienced since I grew up in a house where I had no say just like you did. I definitely tend to fall into the role of dictator when all else fails and I worry more about building a spoiled demanding child by giving her "too much" independence. I think this is a result of upbringing. So I have to make a conscience effort to focus on consequences and teaching her how to resolve conflict. It's less about the specific tantrum and more about giving her tools to resolve disagreements in the future.

Karmela said...

La -- I'm definitely in the same boat as you. Good luck to the both of us as we wade in these unfamiliar waters!

Anonymous said...

oh, kalay! i'm in your boat too. even though i have 2 boys, one clearly has my personality (my older one). i dreaded the year he learned the word WHY because our disagreements quadrupled. but i agree with you, as long as i rationalize and reason with him, he is tolerable. i know you'll raise your DD well. best of luck with the teen years! who knows... maybe our kids will be great debaters after years of practice?!

mom2amara said...

OMG your DD is the same exact as mine! They would so love each other!!