I brought you some supper, but.… if you'd prefer a lecture, I've a few very catchy ones prepped

Yeah, I'm definitely battling *something*. Still no fever, but a nice burn-y eye, scratchy throat, congested and just ick feeling's been hanging on all day. And the dreary, overcast day was just a perfect one for jammies and TV.

I'm wondering if I am to blame for Bean's behavior issues at her dad's and at school. After a bumpy month or so, I've gone back to what worked for me when she was little: setting her up for success. I've really streamlined what's important to me and worth clashing with her over, and a lot of other stuff I've just let go. As a result, her times with me are relatively stress and incident-free. Don't think it's all sunshine and roses, but I've made a concerted effort to minimize rules and requirements, not make unrealistic demands of her and to allow her the freedom to make choices and be who she wants to be. I also watch her for cues, and if I see a meltdown coming, I try to get in front of it by holding her and rocking her.

While she spends about 2/3 of her "home" time with me, she spends another 45-ish hours a week (and that's a good chunk of waking hours) at preschool, and 1/3 of her "home" time with her dad. He's a bit more rules and regulations than I am, but he's *generally* a pretty AP guy in most of what he does and how he relates to the girls.

Preschool is obviously a lot more rules and regulations than I am.

And here's where I wonder if my laissez-faire approach to parenting is doing her more harm than good. At least in the near-term. If she colors on the floor with a crayon and I happen to catch her in the act, to me it's a talking point. To her dad, it's a time out. To her teacher, it's worth making Bean show me the floor. If I don't catch her in the act, I'll tell both girls (usually, tho sometimes I do single her out) that we don't do that and I'll restrict crayon access to just in my office or something like that. But if I choose to leave them with crayons while I take a shower, and I end up with magenta windowsills, that's kinda my fault, at least in my mind.

Am I doing her harm by not echoing the structure/discipline/rules she has elsewhere? I'm a single mom running a zone defense on two pretty spirited kids, and honestly, I pick my battles: they can't run away from me in public, they can't run into a parking lot/road, they need to be gentle with animals, not kill bugs indiscriminately and not hit/kick/spit.

The other stuff, it's all more a discussion and natural consequence-type stuff. If Bean's insisting on wearing shoes that are too small, she gets blisters. If she wants to wear a velvet dress to go play at the park in July, she sweats buckets (and I keep a good eye on her). If she won't share a toy with her sister, the toy gets taken away from both of them. I may take away a thing she likes if she's made a bad choice, but I really only "discipline" for large infractions.

What do y'all think? Am I too permissive? Should I create more structure? Am I inadvertently causing her to act out at school because they have rules and I don't? Ditto at her dad's house?


Eclectic Mama said...

My own personal opinion is that, no, you're not doing her any harm. If you think about it, in real life the rules change depending on where you are, and she's certainly bright enough to know that. The rules in a movie theater are different from those in a library, which are different from those in a school, church, or friend's house. She's probably figured it out already.

Also, IMHO, it's nice for her to have a place (your/her home) where she doesn't have to watch over her shoulder all day wondering if she's breaking the rules.

In the end, you just have to decide if the approach you're taking works for you, for her, for her sister, and for your family as a whole. That's the only thing that should matter.

Lisa Beth said...

I don't know - having a child with, a-hem, behavior troubles myself, I have just learned to pick my battles as well. Really - if he wants to drink out of the BLUE cup instead of the green one I already poured the milk into.... oh well. Not worth a fight.
Isn't it crazy how many waking hours they spend at preschool???You always hope they are doing the right things for your kids. I took me a while to find a good place.
I agree with Eclectic mama-the rules are always going to be slightly varied, no matter how hard you try to make them the same. Might as well do what's best for YOU and your kids at your house!

Vivian said...

I agree with Eclectic Mama, the rules are different wherever you go. Kids are very good at code switching, as long as the rules are clear in the different situations.

I think part of good parenting is "choosing battles". Everything can't be a struggle. I think consistency is the key, not dominance.

MamaLuv42 said...

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I have 2 lil ones on my own 14 and 4 and one on the way!

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