Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Middle Period

Today I asked the doctor a question that’s been nagging me lately. What do we do in this middle stage when River is no longer a helpless baby but not yet capable of understanding reason in order to help him grow into a friendly and well-behaved little boy? I finally got an answer.

He said that timeouts don’t work until a child is two. From about now until age two, what we should do is ignore any undesirable behaviors. If the child is throwing a tantrum (luckily, we haven’t gotten to that stage yet), he said to ignore it and not give the child the thing they want (so as not to reinforce the behavior).

This makes logical sense to me. But I can see myself having more trouble resisting giving in than Mark. So I asked Mark to help me stick to this.

Before River was born, I never expected I would be the softee. I have high expectations of others and can be pretty demanding. But something has changed within me when the situation refers to my own child. There is something instinctual within me that doesn’t want to let him suffer. I’m going to have to make clear to myself what is a reasonable request and what isn’t. And in the cases of the unreasonable requests, I’ll have to do my best at standing firm.

I also asked what to do if River rejects food. The doctor said that if there is a real reason River is rejecting the food (ie. I serve him habanero peppers – not such a farfetched example since I’d told the doctor I served him chili with jalapeno peppers this week) that’s fine. But if we’re serving him three healthy meals a day and there is nothing wrong with the food, then should he choose to reject it, he can go without eating until the next meal.

He has only rejected food on rare occasions. In all the instances, I gave him something else and he ended up eating the originally offered food at the next meal without a problem. Telling him to wait until lunch is one thing. Dealing with the long period of crying that would probably result is another. I find this situation tricky now since I think teething played a big role in the few rejections we’ve had. Since he is such an adventurous eater normally, perhaps I just shouldn’t worry about it until and unless it becomes an issue.

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