The strategy I’ve been most skeptical about is distract/redirect. I haven’t consciously tried it during this program, and I wasn’t sure it would have much value for me … until tonight.

I had dropped Charlotte off at my parents’ house on the way to taking Fenner to gymnastics. I remembered she had a library book in her hands when she got out of the car, and when I picked her up, no library book. I didn’t say anything. (I quit my job of library-book-tracker weeks ago.) Halfway home she wailed, “Ohhhhhhh, mooooooom, I forgot my library book!” “Oh … well, Nana will take good care of it until we go there again.” “Noooooooo I want to get it nooooooow!” “Maybe we can stop by and get it tomorrow.” “Noooooooooo!” etc., etc. I stopped responding and as we pulled into the driveway she said, “If you don’t go back and get it I’m going to sleep in the car … I mean it, and I’m not brushing my teeth!” “Ok,” I said, “goodnight!” I got out and went in the house.

She stayed outside for a while. I peeked out the window and saw her in the car, talking to herself, but not crying. Finally she came in. “Mom, I’m feeling kind of mad at you.” “Oh?” “I’m mad at you because you left and walked away and you don’t even care. You don’t even care what I’m feeling! You just keep eating your food!” Maybe if I just casually talk about something else, I thought, and then I said, “Yeah, I’ve been wanting to try these cookies for a while, but you know what? They’re just not very good.” “Ugh! Mom, see? Like that! You don’t even care about me!” Then she started to cry. For a minute I was at a loss. Then I remembered Vicki’s example of pretending she saw something out the window in the midst of a fight with her daughter. I looked around and frowned. “Charlotte, I heard a strange sound.” She immediately stopped crying. “What?” she asked. “I don’t know. It sounded like … like … a huge bug.” I walked quickly toward the steps up to the second floor porch. Charlotte followed eagerly.

I opened the door to the porch and said, “Ohhhhhhh, it’s just the mini windmill that Papa made. It was making that sound like a big, flying bug!” “Oh, yeah, mom, it makes that sound when it spins!” “That’s all it was…” “Mom, it’s cold. I’ll race you downstairs!” She ran ahead of me. “First one down the stairs to the kitchen wins!” she called out cheerfully.

She disappeared ahead of me down the stairs along with any doubts I may have had about distracting and redirecting. It totally works. I’m sold.

Explore posts in the same categories: Week 11: The Slippery Slope

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