Saturday, July 17, 2010
What? Me? Manipulate?
In May of this year I wrote a blog on the "Situation Room" which if you didn't read it is basically the downstairs/playroom where my children spend a good bit of time plotting against me.
So what does my little Army of 2 (or 3 when daddy is home) need? Strategy, of course. The Infant and Childhood SOP's (see another May blog) give a good base for how to carry out their plans. But what I often fail to realize is that they learn best from you know who. That's right. Good ol' Mom!
And what I've found is that my basic parenting strategy is manipulation. Real nice! There is a fair amount of manipulation going on in this house and it all begins with me. So I started taking a look at myself. And darned if I didn't discover that I am quite the manipulator.
True to form, I like to tell myself that it is not manipulation but in fact guidance, coaching, mentoring, teaching. You know, all of those really good managerial skills that I have honed over the years? See how I manipulated that? It's a social work thing. It's called "reframing." And if you could see some of the people I work with every day you would understand why reframing is not only helpful but essential in maintaining my sanity. The alternative is to lose my ever living mind with these crazy people!! Oops, I'm not supposed to call people crazy!
The same is true for parenting. Reframe/manipulate to maintain what mental stability I have left. So back to my original thought. My boys are becoming quite the strategists. And one of their favorite strategies is manipulation. Particularly my oldest one who is 3. And God Bless my youngest, Leo. He falls right in line with his General.
Some examples of the manipulation in our home:
ME: We get home from work and the boys fight over who gets to push the garage door button. So say in my sweet mommy voice "Oh Justin. Leo is going to push the button because you are so good at opening the door." Oh yeah. Works like a charm! Justin puffs his chest out and opens the door all the while telling me how he is bigger and stronger than Leo.
JEREMY: Leo is getting a prize out of the prize bucket because he told us that he needed to go poop. Justin also wants a prize and Jeremy says in his very best excited voice "I know what you get...BATTERIES!" Because he was already in the process of putting batteries in one of the toys. Yup, works like a charm again. Justin is overjoyed with the "prize" of getting to hold 2 AA batteries for his dad. SCORE!
JUSTIN: Leo is playing with the Fridge DJ and Justin decides he wants it. Insert manipulation: "Leo, you are being such a nice boy. Do you want to play with this (a dinosaur)? Here ya go." And Justin pulls the ol' switch-a-roo. Yanking the Fridge DJ from Leo's grip and shoving the dino in its place. His manipulation may lack some finesse, but nonetheless it gets the job done. And of course, Leo has learned from his brother and goes right along with the plan. Never bats an eye. He is eternally grateful for the attention he has received from his brother and pretty much bends over backwards to play with a new toy so his big brother can play with his.
Mission Accomplished (again!)