When Little L was little she was adorable and cute and tough. There was one place the kid was ever happy. One. On me. When she was separated she’d wail until I came back into her line of sight and then just whimper until I took her into my arms.
We said “it’s a phase! She’ll mellow out!”
And four years later we’ve finally accepted that our beautiful girl is just tough.
She doesn’t listen. She dances to the beat of her own drum. She’s willful. She’s mischievous. She’s adorable and when she smiles and bats her eyelashes she gets away with murder.
The hardest part of it all is that she means well. She really truly does, but she’s just off in her own world. So “talks” and “conversations” and all other sorts of communication goes in one ear and bounces right back out.
And then she smiles and says something funny or cute and we instantly forgive her for losing her shoes one more time, for not putting on her pajamas because she found a tiny toy that instantly needed attention, for not eating because a leaf caught her eye outside the window.
The only challenges that we have trouble turning a blind eye on are the night time hassles.
It’s no secret that Little L isn’t the best sleeper in the world. Her nights (and mine!) are often interrupted and bedtime is rarely a breeze. She’ll pop up out of bed for a million reasons, often only falling asleep after one of us breaks down and yells.
And really? I hate the yelling. I hate that she falls asleep with tear tracks on her face. I hate that that’s how she was ending her days.
So I took matters into consideration. Took my daughter into consideration. Remembered that she and I are cut from an identical cloth and asked myself what would have motivated me at her age.
I bribed her with chocolate.
Oh, yes I did.
One chocolate treat if she went to bed without getting up and didn’t wake up mommy and daddy during the night. My only regret is that I didn’t think of it sooner.
And then one morning (after rereading the chapter on rewarding the process rather than the result in Raising Happiness) I praised Little L for working hard to stay in bed while her sister did her own jack-in-the-box routine.
She writhed with pride. Literally writhed. And I realized that, just like for the rest of us, recognition for efforts is worth even more to her than chocolate.
Since that day we’ve had few bad bedtimes and she’s gone to bed with kisses on her cheeks rather than tears. My nights have been more restful and our mornings less crabby. Most of all it’s been amazing to see how she puffs up with pride when we notice her achievements.
To give her a concrete visual and keep the progress moving in the right direction, I took advantage of the behavior charts offered by Goalforit.com to set something up that would give her a good snapshot of her week.
This morning we sat down and went over all the goals outlined in the chart and I had her tell me if she had earned a reward for each.
My little girl, the one who always seems to have her head in the clouds and to have no idea about what’s going on around her, the one who doesn’t seem to remember anything three seconds after it happened, took complete ownership of her actions. She’s the one who said she hadn’t been good about not waking mommy up. Without my prompting.
I could have wept. But instead I hugged her and told her how proud I was that she was working so hard.
And the best part of it all? For the rest of the morning I didn’t have to repeat anything I asked her. In her mind she was already working towards picking her reward icon for good listening.
This post was sponsored by Goalforit.com and BSM Media. As always the thoughts and stories are all mine. I’m really impressed with the site and have even set up my own goals chart! And yes, I do feel all puffed up with pride too when it tells me that I had a perfect day. Go figure. Even I think it tastes better than chocolate.