Recently I read Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay. I realized that I have been protecting my children from natural consequences and depriving them of lessons that they are ready to learn.
For example, after reading this book, I decided that I would stop nagging Pippi. I vowed that I would only remind her once to do a chore and then I would do them for payment. For awhile, I found myself getting quite the collection of wigs, and I even earned ten dollars (all of Pippi's money) for cleaning up the yard. I was worried that I would have a closet full of toys and be left doing all the housework for myself. But it didn't happen that way. Pippi started asking me, "How can I help you Mom?" I realized that Pippi doesn't really like working ALONE.
I decided that I would not take Pippi's laundry down to the laundry room for her. I reminded her once, and I waited--ten days. We had a couple nights of tears because she was out of jeans for then next day. She ended up finding ways around actually carrying her laundry baskets downstairs. For instance one day she spot cleaned the catsup off her jeans so she could wear them out of the dirty clothes. She also discovered that she liked a couple of shirts that she said she didn't like before. She begged her Dad and me for oversized shirts to wear for pajamas. It was comical to watch her function with bare drawers. Finally, one night she broke down. She needed clean jeans. I gently told her that I was much too tired to do laundry at night but I would be happy to do it in the morning if she took it down. Not satisfied, she took her own laundry down and asked me to show her how to work the washer. She must not have liked the chore (she is really much too short to reach the detergent) because she's been much better about bringing me her laundry lately.
I have to admit it was hard not to take up nail biting as I waited for Pippi to figure out that her life really does go much better when she does what she's told. But I like being patient way more than I like being a stressed out screamer.
Bardo is also responding well to "love and logic." I've been disciplining annoying behavior the first time rather than giving 1, 2, or 3 thousand chances. Bardo is very determined to be "sweet" and really only requires a 2 second time out (most of the time).
I've also used constant questions to get Bardo to do things. All day long I give him alternatives. I have to use my imagination a little and I'm sure I sound really stupid with the constant questions (Do you want me throw you into bed or do you want to crawl into bed?), but man, it's worth it to get this little boy to go with the flow.
And Noel? She's training me. As long as I feed her, play with her for a little bit, and change her diapers, she's a happy camper.