Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Parenting 101: Executing the Plan

Hubs and I officially started executing the our game plan with LO based on Dr. Kevin Leman's book, Have a New Kid... by Friday, late last week. Let me tell you, it's been interesting to say the least. To give you a little glimpse, LO went 3 straight nights without eating/finishing her dinner.

It was insane.

I tried a new approach as mentioned in the book. See, family dinners together are a daily staple in our home. But Leman suggested dining family style. In other words, place all of the food on the table so each person can serve themselves (I always make all of our plates in the kitchen and then bring the plates to the table). This way, LO is provided with the opportunity to put as much of each item on her plate as she'd like. In hindsight, I didn't really think things through well enough because I made a variation of -- get this -- Shepherd's Pie for dinner that night. I've never made it before (ground beef, veggies and mashed potatoes in one casserole-type dish), and quite frankly, it was NOT very good. Anyway, I let LO dish it onto her own plate and not surprisingly, she only placed a morsel or two on it. No biggie. I also had sliced strawberries in a small bowl that she dished onto her plate as well. She had finished the strawberries in record time, but when it came to the rest of her dinner, she wasn't too pleased. She made ONE comment. One. I'm not even sure what it was... I think she was just playing with her food and then said, "I don't like it!" without even trying one bite. I got up, calmly took her plate, fork and cup to the kitchen, and dumped the remains on her plate into the trash can. She immediately got upset and started talking very ugly to me, and without a word from me, she got up, pouted and stomped into her room, angrily mumbling something about being MAD!

Hubs and I continued to enjoy our dinner with Chase, talking, laughing and having a good time. LO continued to wail for a few more moments, then came back into the dining room.

LO: "Mommy. I'm still hungry and I want my dinner." (said very angrily and matter-of-factly with arms crossed).
Me: "Oh, I'm sorry, LO! You said you didn't like your dinner and got upset and got down from the table. You know once you get down from the table, you're finished. You can have something to eat in the morning for breakfast." (said happily with a HUGE smile on my face).
LO: "Ugggggghhhh!" (pouting, angry, arms crossed, stomping back to her room)

She came back out a second and third time. The third time, she was somewhat remorseful and tried the puppy dog eyes and told me, "But mommy, I'm still hungry." It truly was the saddest thing. The "old me" would've probably given in and told her she had one last chance to sit down and eat. But the new me told her, essentially, "Too bad."

She was obviously distraught and looked somewhat confused by the events, but didn't really catch on to it. The next night was essentially a repeat of the one above. And the third night was as well.

Finally, on the fourth night, we were able to have a successful, happy, relatively quiet dinner as a family of four. It was awesome. And the way she'd look at me when I stood up to get more milk or another napkin... she'd immediately put her arms around her plate as if I were about to swoop in and steal it from her mid-meal! I had to chuckle at that... Haha!

The same philosophy applied throughout the day. One afternoon, she asked for a snack in her usual way: "Mommy, may I please have a snack please, Mommy?" (she gets extra points for redundancy). I got her some grapes and a cup of water, and set them on the kitchen table. I told her that I placed her snack on the kitchen table and she could sit in her chair and eat it. She responded by saying she didn't want to eat it at the kitchen table, she wanted to eat it at the coffee table so she could watch TV. Without a word, I walked over to the kitchen table, picked up her grapes and tossed them into the trash and dumped her water into the sink. That obviously elicited quite a response from her. She was NOT happy. After she calmed down, she asked me why I threw her snack away. I explained to her that I asked her to sit at the kitchen table to eat her snack and she did not listen to me, so she lost the opportunity to have a snack. I told her she wouldn't have anything to eat until dinnertime.

It's so very unusual for me to respond this way to LO. Seriously, any time she wanted anything, I would get it for her in a heartbeat. She was not at all expecting me to stop letting her have her way 24/7. It was all so unexpected in her little eyes.

Truthfully, I think what was the most unexpected was her behavior over the next several days. Dr. Leman stated, "If your child is thrashing as he comes out of the water, you'll know you're on the right track." Well let me tell you, if LO's behavior was any indication at all, we were definitely on the right track... but how long would things have to be worse before they'd start to get better?

Stay tuned! I plan to share more of LO's horror stories and, hopefully, a light at the end of the tunnel!