Yeah, yeah, it's supposed to be taboo and all, but this mama is not above bribing her way through a semi peaceful day. Because the terrible twos have stretched into the terrible ones, twos, and now terrible threes as well, something had to give. Stern words were laughed at. Warnings were tested. Time outs were apparently a chance for sisterly bonding. While Grace was sitting in the infamous timeout spot, Emma Kate in all her sweetness would take Grace her sippy or a baby doll or sit beside her and hug her. I mean really, Emma Kate, you are one big bundle of sugar, but I'm trying to prove a point here.
I think part of the problem was that we used to be able to rely on Grace's paci soothing her through these tantrums. Where we could once stop them before they started with that magical wonder, we all just have to suffer through them now. Also, she stopped taking naps. She would actually still take one, I suppose, but if she gets a wink of sleep past lunch time, she stays up till way past midnight. That schedule just doesn't work for me, thank you very much. So now we've got a creature that looks like a sweet three year old on the outside, but acts like a hormonal teenager mixed with a rabid animal.
A friend told me I needed to find Grace's "currency." Currency meaning the golden ticket to bribery. It took a while to discover said currency because once the Drama Queen starts venturing down the road of defiance and fit pitching, there's no turning back. There was nothing she wanted badly enough to alter her actions. She has actually stopped mid tantrum to say, "Mama, watch me. I'm pitching a fit." Oh really, Grace? I thought that ear piercing noise was the sound of an angel's chorus. Thank you for clarifying.
The currency was discovered shortly after an outing that convinced me I was one step away from a padded room. The outing occurred one Wednesday night at church that involved me chasing Grace around and around the wiffle ball field with her laughing over her shoulder. I guess that's one way to get in daily exercise. I'm pretty sure several calories were burned as smoke shot from my ears. Anyway, that fateful day at Target happened shortly after when I saw Grace tremble with excitement over the sight of earrings. Heart shaped, butterflies, ladybugs, pink stones, you name it, they have it.
As we were discussing her favorites, the light bulb went on. Earrings are her currency! I made her a sticker chart on pink paper (which she suggested) and she earns stickers for refraining from tantrums, following directions, and sleeping all night in her own bed (whole other story there!). So far, she's doing pretty well. Some days are better than others, of course. But, I can whisper "sticker" and "earrings," and we've been able to avoid a few tantrums on her part and a few on mine. :) When she gets the sticker chart filled, Grace earns new earrings. I actually had to make Emma Kate a sticker chart too because we are an equal opportunity household, and she has to do everything Grace does (whether this is a blessing or a curse is yet to be determined).
I've also found that her dislike of her black car seat works in my favor when I'm trying to get her into the car. We've had a real issue with her testing the limits when it's time to get in the car. One day as Grace ran past the car and all around the yard, I put Emma Kate in the pink and yellow car seat and Grace was livid. A new rule was developed on the spot. First one to the car gets to ride in pink. There's a back story to the car seat issue. We got Grace a nice, neutral black car seat thinking we were being oh so practical. A friend sold us Emma Kate's car seat which is yellow with pink flowers. The first time Emma Kate tried out the new car seat, Grace's heart was broken. Imagine the flailing toddler screaming "I waaaaannnnna sit in the pink cah seat. I don't liiiiike this old black cah seat. I waaaant the pwetty one!" Since the new rule was developed, Grace gets to ride being cushioned by lovely pink flowers more times than not, and she earns a sticker because she followed directions by going to the car when she was told to.
This discovering currency thing is as exciting as the discovery of gold was, I'm sure. It sets the bribery in motion, and in a house with not one, but 2 little ones in the midst of the terrible ones/twos/threes, bribery is almost a given. A blessing, really.
Here's a picture of our sticker chart. Grace and I talked about the expectations - how she earns stickers, and she is fully aware of which actions result in a sticker, and which ones prohibit her from getting stickers. I know it looks like there are a lot of boxes to get to the earrings, but she has many chances throughout the day to earn stickers. So, it shouldn't take long at all to fill it up. Shouldn't. But then again, we aren't dealing with an ordinary three year old here.
I'll let you know when Grace's sticker chart gets filled and how the earring retrieval trip goes. Oh, and if you have any other suggestions for how to tame a sassy three year old, please leave a comment!
2 years ago