I am dead tired tonight after driving over 500 miles today. I am in Tennessee, on my way to visit aging relatives tomorrow. I have my 83 year old mom with me. No dogs, no kids … kinda quiet.
I really appreciated all the feedback and input on the structure post. I’m not sure I made it clear that I view structure much like one reader stated: if you do X, then Y will happen. It isn’t necessarily just about negative actions and consequences; it is also about positive interactions as well. If X = clean your room and Y = we go to the mall, that is predictability. First you do X, then we do Y. No X? Then no Y. That is a general rule… of course, as the parent we can change it up if we like … but we get to decide because we are the parents. And if we do offer Y in the absence of X, we make it clear we chose to do that. We don’t cave in and give Y because our champion whiner wore us down. What a devaluing message it sends to allow your child to wear you down … you might as well tell them directly they are not worth the effort it takes to resist … or just abdicate your parental authority up front and don’t expect any cooperation at all. Giving in once sets up a mindset in you and your child that you can and will give in again. That sets a very dangerous precedent.
If your child heals to the point where diplomatic discussion is possible, it is fine to occasionally change your mind in response to legitimate reasons offered by your child. But most children we are discussing here are a long way from being able to offer legitimate, diplomatic input.
It is OK to offer toddlers choices, as one reader asked. “Would you like to go to the park or the museum?” is a legitimate offering of choices. If the child handles the choices well, there is no reason not to continue to offer them. If the child says, “The museum!” and you head to the museum, only to be walking in the door when he yells, “NO! The PARK!” and you reverse direction and head to the park … that is not good. Choices should be options to have input, not battlegrounds of control.