I rewarded my four year old for throwing a fit today, at least that’s what it would seem like. We were driving in the car ten minutes after she had woken up and her little sister was given the stuffed Unicorn I found in the backseat.
This really upset Penelope who had asked for this specific unicorn yesterday. However, I had no time to procure another stuffed animal at the moment and she would just have to deal. She began to scream after my explanation as to why she couldn’t have it.
“If you continue to scream you WILL go back to bed when we get back home,” I finally exclaimed, realizing that she may simply be too tired to stay up.
Penelope had been throwing a fit for five minutes at this point and in my experience the longer the fit goes on the more unreasonable the child becomes. To my utter surprise and complete joy her fit subsided in less than 30 second and all that was left was a scowl on her face.
“I would be scowling, too,” I thought.
You see, Penelope had a rough bedtime routine last night because it was the second night of us helping her to break the habit of magically requiring sustenance at the very mention of bedtime. Then, she woke up screaming at 5:30am because she had a nightmare about a giant spider coming after her to eat her and on top of that I woke her up an hour earlier than she’s used to. Lastly, this unicorn should have been given to her; after all, she requested it the day before and I was so busy that I forgot to get it out of the car for her.
To sum up: Penelope had been put to bed with hurt feelings over her new bedtime routine, been awakened by a terrifying nightmare, was forced out of bed early and she was then unjustly treated with the unicorn situation. Anyone would act unreasonable.
Five minutes later when we arrived home I looked at her angry little face and I said, “Penelope, you made such a good choice to obey Mommy and stop screaming even though you’re so tired and rightfully upset. Thank you! I’m going to give you a surprise now for your good choice!” You should have seen her face light up and she chose veggie straws for her surprise.
Often, I think we hold children to impossible standards. Just like us, children have bad moods and it’s our job to teach them how to express their emotions in a healthy and acceptable manner.