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Another unconditional parenting question!

(135 Posts)
Simic Wed 01-Dec-10 10:16:46

This one is addressed to Tillymama and all the other people out there interested in unconditional parenting! What do you do with the getting ready when child just wants to stay at home and play but you have GOT to be off by a particular time? Like getting to preschool in the morning, every morning, when I've got to be at work by 9.
I know that Alfie Kohn sees it as really important to try to reduce the amount of time pressure. I see it like this too - but it's just not really feasible with my work start.
Secondly Alfie Kohn suggests discussing the problem with the child to find a solution together. The problem that I've encountered with that is the phenomenon "Yes, I'll do that tomorrow morning and every morning" only means "I love you, Mum and Dad, and I want to please you". A five year old can't actually follow the logic of "it's my solution to a problem and I want to make it work - even in the morning when I really just want to play".
Any ideas???

BooBooGlass Wed 01-Dec-10 10:20:10

I think you need to make a distinction between unconditional parenting and allowing your child to dictate your timetable. There would be no discussion in this house- we need to be out, we cannot discuss an alternative as there isn't one. I have a friend who called off a work meeting as her child was havign a tantrum at having to leave the house. That way madness lies imo.

witchwithallthetrimmings Wed 01-Dec-10 10:31:14

my routine today if it is any help, We all need to be out of the house by 8.25.
7 o'clock wake up have shower, lay breakfast table
7.15 ds (5) wakes up back to bed for a quick cuddle
7.20 go into wake dd (almost 2) breast feed dd and cuddle ds
7.35ish go down for breakfast
7.55ish pick up dd (check that she does not want any more cereal) and tidy away while ds is finishing eating
8 o'clock get ds to chose a telly programme that dd will want to watch, i dress dd and encourage ds to get dressed. If he is too slow then say "looks like telly is being a bit distracting shall we turn it off until you have finished dressing".
8.20 I run around getting boots, hats and gloves
8.25 dd is in pram and we are out of the door

think the key is to work out how long things ttake, where time can be saved (so i only have long shower at w/es) and to blame external factors for awkward behaviour rather than the dc

Simic Wed 01-Dec-10 10:32:16

I agree that there isn't an alternative. In situations where there is an alternative, I gladly take it. But this is a situation where there isn't. What I am asking therefore is: what creative ideas do people have for dealing with the situation in a way which leaves all participants as unfrazzled as possible!?
The approach "you have to put your clothes on straight away because I say so" doesn't work with us. It just leads to stalemate with both sides feeling that their back is against the wall and they have to "win" because otherwise they will "lose". I don't like living like that. "We have to get to nursery on time because I have to get off to work" gets boring over time and doesn't have a big impact. "Let's get to nursery, your friends will be looking forward to playing with you" is a possibility, but can't compete with the lego. Making a game out of getting dressed does work sometimes, but I was hoping to expand my repertoire with some input from other people on here! I think a lot of it is about how you structure your routine. I'd be interested to hear about people's routines...

Simic Wed 01-Dec-10 10:32:52

Thanks Witchwithallthetrimmings, our posts crossed!

WildhoodChunder Wed 01-Dec-10 10:35:40

Can you take lego with you in the car? DD usually gets to take one toy with her and that generally (not always) works?

WildhoodChunder Wed 01-Dec-10 10:37:17

Or, other thing with DD that sometimes works is playing games in the car - "let's go in the car and see how many dogs we can spot on the way to nursery!" and trying to keep the tone of voice enthusiastic and 'fun' rather than stressed, which is something I'm working on, she can sense my frustration I'm sure!

Hullygully Wed 01-Dec-10 10:37:55

Stop driving yourself mad, it's perfectly acceptable to say, yes, I know you don't want to do x,y and z, but we have to. One of life's sadder lessons is that there are many things we all have to do that we don't want to. I, for one, would very much like to lie in bed all day reading and drinking fizzy wine.

Laugs Wed 01-Dec-10 10:43:18

The thing is, routines are boring - that's what allows us to get through them quickly and effectively. I wouldn't try too hard to make it fun.

I don't dare put the tv on in the morning as it always slows everything down as DD becomes transfixed. We get through our routine washing, eating, dressing and then DD can draw or read if there's time left.

BelligerentGhoul Wed 01-Dec-10 10:49:00

But sometimes children DO have to do things 'because I said so' - surely they just have to get used to this? A five year old should be perfectly able to accept that x needs to happen in order for y to happen. I don't see why that needs to be negotiated.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Wed 01-Dec-10 13:36:04

I'm half way through a really interesting book that deals with this a bit. It's called Letting go as Children Grow" by deborah Jackson.

She sounds quite up to me (though Alfie Kohn is next on my list so don't take my word for it)

She basically says when you have to be somewhere leave as much time as possible.
If you can let them go on in their own time, brilliant.

Sometimes you can't, you need to hurry them, that is life.

But key is not to rush them all the time, or for the sake of it.

So from her point of view I'm afraid you might have to get up earlier.


LeQueen Wed 01-Dec-10 14:42:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BornToFolk Wed 01-Dec-10 15:04:22

I make sure that DS (3) knows what we have to do before we leave the house, I tell him quite frequently "right, we have to brush our teeth, pack your bag, put our shoes on etc". If we get it all done with time to spare, then we can play.
I try to let him finish what he's doing before telling him it's time to go. I also ask him where he's going to leave whatever he was playing with so he knows where to find it when he comes home, or he picks a cuddly toy to "look after" what ever he was playing with.
If he resists putting his coat on, I get myself ready, then try him again. I really try not to engage with sulking as it just ends up in a stand off and then we really will be late!

shinyblackgrape Wed 01-Dec-10 15:33:53

Le Queen - I completely agree with you.

DP is a dentist. The number of late/missed appointments he has had regarding parents "negotiating" with their child to get in the chair is unbelievable. Most children when they first go to the dentist aren't that keen - big, scary man and all that. But once he is allowed to actually talk to them, show them his teeth if they will let him look at theirs, dole out stickers etc, most children have no problem. No need for parental "negotiation" to get them in the chair or to stop playing with a toy etc to come in to the surgery. Nor should there be. Going to the dentist is a fundamental health care requirement.

He has recently referred a child to hospital to have 5 teeth out under general anesthetic. This (poor) child has come in for 4 separate appointments but has never actually got in to the chair. Child refuses, parent tries to explain importance of dentist, child still refuses as too young to understand, parent and child leave. Unbelievable.

This is, of course, a very extreme example and I understand that parents might want to parent in this way at home. However, it doesn't seem possible to modify the style for different scenarios or is it?

LeQueen Wed 01-Dec-10 16:02:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BelligerentGhoul Wed 01-Dec-10 16:43:11

TOTALLY agree.

Othersideofthechannel Wed 01-Dec-10 17:25:27

Simic, hang on in there, they get easier to reason with. Such a big difference between 7yr old and 5 yr old in this house!

I think the main thing is to listen and empathise with your child's feelings, acknowledge that you realise it isn't much fun to interrupt what you are doing because of someone else's schedule.
I usually ask DD (who is also 5 )if there is anyway we can adapt the game so that it can be brought with her in the car. Occasionally she has a tantrum about it but usually she is quite inventive in figuring out how a car trip can fit in the game. If we can't adapt the game, we write the game on a whiteboard in the kitchen so that she doesn't forget to continue it later. Usually by the time she gets home again, she's not interested, but when I write on the whiteboard, she sees that I am taking her desire to play the game seriously. I also write on the whiteboard things I haven't had time to do and need to when I get in so I guess she sees it as a grown up thing to do.


LeQueen Wed 01-Dec-10 18:34:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BooBooGlass Wed 01-Dec-10 18:45:02

Glad I'm not the only one to find this approach odd. My friends dd is 3.5. SHe is currently waiting to see if she will be allowed back to nursery next term as her behaviour and constant need to be reasoned with is taking up too much of the workers time. Just last week I watched as this friend and her preschooler had a stand off on the pavement, an actual 15 minute arguement about why they had to hurry up so mummy could get to work. If that was me, I'd have picked her up, ignored her and let her carry on with the tantrum, but my friend just will not. It's awful to see what a demanding child she is raising, and in the real world people don't see it as 'endearing' or a respectful way to raise a child, they see a (I'm sorry to say) frustrating child, and one who is hard work.. It's ineffectual, and it blurs the lines between parenting and just not caring.

everythingiseverything Wed 01-Dec-10 18:58:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tillymama Wed 01-Dec-10 18:59:32

Missed this...although shouldn't really be classed as a UP expert in any case. Hey ho.

I agree with PP's that UP isn't about letting kids get their own way. It's about understanding their feelings, and respecting them.

However, I don't think there is anything wrong with explaining to a child that we have to leave the house now because of X.

But as another PP said, it's appreciating that these are adult time constraints that the child doesn't really care about. That said, we can still teach our children than other people have their own agenda, and that it's nice to help them along with that.

Rather than teaching our children to blindly follow instructions, just because, UP acknowledges that children are quite capable of understanding what we eventually realise as adults; that a lot of the things we do are simply to make other people feel good.

Manners for example. The only reason we say Thank You, is to make the other person know we appreciate what they have done/are doing.

Yet often children are forced to say it before they know what those words mean, or why we should say it. They are told "It's polite" and that they just should. Even as adults, I know I often say Please, Thank You and Sorry without even really realising I'm saying it. Which kind of defeats the object.

What's wrong with teaching children (once they are old enough to understand) that being polite is all about making the other person feel good? You can do this without making them say it parrot fashion from a young age.

By the same token...what's wrong with teaching children that sometimes we have to go along with someone elses schedule, to make life easier for them? Again, you can do this without forcing the subject.

UP is about planting seeds, very small ones, which grow with the child.

It's also, in a lot of ways, about choosing the path of least resistance(which is by no means a bad thing, and I've no idea why it always seems to be portrayed as such).

But it's mostly about leading by example.

So in the example in the OP (waaaaaaaay back up there before this essay wink), it's about making sure you do everything possible to give the child enough time in the morning. There will come a point where you just have to go. But surely by discussing with the child what you have done to try and gmake sure everyone has enough time in the morning, he will learn that you have to be have to help sometimes have to change the way you do things to make life easier for someone else....?

Othersideofthechannel Wed 01-Dec-10 19:11:19

May I ask, LeQueen, what you would do if you say to your small child 'Time to go' and they reply. 'I don't want to, I'm busy'.

Also, how would you like your children to respond if you are in the middle of something and they need to wait before you can do something with/for them?

LeQueen Wed 01-Dec-10 19:41:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Othersideofthechannel Wed 01-Dec-10 19:50:23

And in the first example, if they dig their heels in?
"But I need to finish building this"

TrinityMotherOfRhinos Wed 01-Dec-10 19:52:09

then you pick them up and out their boots and coat on and leave

like someone else said up higher on the thread

no other adults are going to negotiate all the time

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