I finally had a successful morning with my son’s pre-school drop off, after a string of heart-breakers!
I am the mom who, some mornings, sits on the child-sized bench and gently talks my son into going to school. Other mornings, I drop him off and walk out with him screaming in the teacher’s arms. I am a bit of a spectacle at the pre-school. If any of the parents of my son’s preschool see this post, they will laugh. I am sure they will get a kick out my report that something finally worked for me!
The whole year has been hard, typical of new school-aged children who resist school.
But this week has been especially hard. I had let my three-year-old stay home one day, and he realized he had had some say in the decision. HUGE MISTAKE! His take-away: “If I can convince Mom I do not feel like going to school, she’ll let me stay home!” Argh!
Every day since has been a huge battle. His storehouse of artillery includes but is not limited to: whining, complaining, throwing himself on the floor, going limp, refusing to take a step toward the car, making it impossible for me to buckle his seat belt, and screaming as we are driving.
I have scolded, informed, explained, spanked, cajoled, encouraged, enticed, and offered rewards. To no avail.
Finally this morning, I delivered the wham-buzle that worked: the simultaneous “threat or reward, you choose” scenario. I said, “Sebastian, you are either going to get a spanking or ice cream. If you whine and refuse to walk straight into school, I will give you a spanking. But if you use a nice voice and walk straight into school, I will get you ice cream when you get home. You choose. You are only going to get one or the other.”
He immediately replied, “I choose ice cream.”
“Okay, then no more whining, and you have to walk straight into school,” I reinforced.
Well, he was silent in the car the rest of the way. Toward arriving, he said, “Do you want to sing ‘The Wheels On the Bus’?” I took this as an attitude change and we broke out into song and, for him, hand motions.
We arrived at the school. I got out of the car, opened his door, and unbuckled him. I said, “Remember. . . ” and I said it all over again. He quickly rejoined, “Mom, I’ve already chosen ice cream, remember?”
He jumped down out of thew car (revealing that his serious condition of limp legs and inability to walk shown only moments prior were only TEMPORARY), waved and shouted, “Goodbye Mom!” as he walked into the school at a fast clip without even looking back at me.
Miracle? Maybe! It seems like the reward and threatened punishment at the same time is the double-pronged incentive that he needs. It’s like swatting a stubborn donkey on the behind while dangling a carrot in front of him at the same time. The two pressures together are what are needed to redirect the “force of nature” who is my precious son.