Friday, October 31, 2008

A Good Lesson

What a morning! This is going to be an interesting day. When Hayden got up I thought I'd relax our TV rules a bit and let him watch The Incredibles first thing. This is his new favorite movie. Once the movie had ended, I turned off the TV and turned on the CD player.

This was apparently an "act of war". Hayden did not approve my music choices or the fact that we were not watching anymore TV. I ignored his protests and started making my tea. After 15 minutes of whining I had had enough.

He has an entire house to roam through and way too many toys to play with, yet all he can think to do is whine about not getting to watch TV? No, this needed to be addressed. In the past few weeks, I've employed a new technique to deal with these situations (whining about no TV or boredom). I took time to think about the problem and came up with what I think the root cause is: lack of appreciation and overstimulation.

So now when he starts to get fussy like today, I pull out a big throw blanket and put it down on the floor. I grab three toys that are all different: a book, a stacking/sorting toy, a shapes/wire toy. I tell him that he must sit on the blanket and he cannot leave the blanket. This always incites a riot. He usually starts tossing the toys off the blanket. As he throws each toy off the blanket, I take them away. Eventually he's sitting on the blanket with nothing, just being mad. Once he settles down, I give him one toy back. If he throws it off the blanket again, I take it away and wait for him to settle again. If he plays quietly with the toy, I bring another, then the third.

He's usually so engrossed in the first toy, he doesn't even notice I gave him back the other three. Once he plays calmly for a while with all three and no fussing, I tell him he's "All Done" and he can get up. He usually plays a few more minutes though.

Maybe I'm nuts, but it seems to work. He goes from having anything he wants to play with, to just a few toys. Now, playing quietly in the house (instead of whining about TV) has been turned into a privilege that he wants back. Also, he can calm down and just concentrate on his few toys.
The lesson here though is really for me. Sometimes I could use a little appreciation and quietness myself. We have so much excess it's sometimes hard to just appreciate something and not be distracted by the desire of something else. I find myself hopping from one thing to another, without fully enjoying what I was doing. I'm always thinking about "what's next". I need to just stop and enjoy now.

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