Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Following the rules...

I said something so profound to Hana yesterday I MUST record it in my blog. Because you see, in my bi-lingual, third-cultural world my English just ain't so good anymore, and I rarely say anything profound. and don't any of you who know me comment on how profound I might have been before my brain started tangling up two languages, two kiddos and a whole slew of others life things that require brain cells and their working capacity, or lack there-of...

Anyways, back to my profound statement. It has to do with parenting and I thought what I said made SO much sense, yet it was so simple. Let me start from the beginning...

When Hana came to us, I was determined to use a pacifier if she wanted something to sooth her, because I didn't want to deal with all the issues that come with thumb sucking. And then at 3 months of age I caught her sucking on her thumb in her crib and it was so darn cute, I forgot to take it out and tie it behind her back for the next 6 months so she'd never do it again. And wallah! We had ourselves a thumb sucker. I told myself it was easier than getting up three times (or maybe 300 times) in the night to put the plug back in. And many many mothers told me success stories of how their children quite at 2, 3 or 4 years of age. So I decided not to worry about it.

Then we got past the age of 4 and 5 rolled in and she seemed to be sucking it more rather than less. And her bite, well lets just say braces will probably be in her future. There is no way on God's green earth that her front teeth will ever meet, there is a huge gap there and I can't imagine it will correct itself...

exhibit A

There is no exhibit B, I just always wanted to say that -- "Exhibit A" (I momentarily at some point in my life thought about being a lawyer, for 3 or 4 seconds).

Anyhooo, this brings me to our current delimma. She is a month away from her 6th birthday and still sucking her thumb. So I am currently trying to figure out how to come up with some sort of contraption to keep it out of her mouth at night, and also trying to teach her self control during the day. She often sucks her thumb while she is watching TV. So the rule is, if she does that the TV goes off for the rest of the day and she can not have any movies or computer time or iPod or anything.

Yesterday morning, I caught her AGAIN sitting and watching Anne of Green Gables, sucking her thumb. So the TV went off again (for the fourth day in a row, or maybe even more). And as she was vehemently promising not to do it anymore and begging to have the TV turned back on I said...

"You know the rule, and Mommy has to follow the rules too, or you NEVER will!"

And then as I went about the rest of my morning those words kept going through my head and I kept realizing the deep truth behind them.

I think one of the major issues with parenting today, is this very thing. It isn't only that the children won't follow the rules, it is that the parents don't either. And I don't mean just that you set an example for your kids if you break rules, and they see that and will copy your behavior, which is true. I mean that, when you set a rule, YOU as the parent must follow it.

If I set up a rule for behavior and do not enforce it, then I am essentially not even giving my child a chance to follow the rules! The rule is two part, she sucks her thumb, I turn off the TV. I have an obligation in this rule as well. This just reinforces one of my biggest beliefs about parenting, raising children is as much about the discipline and training of the parents as it is the child, if not more!

How many times have I seen parents tell their children no about a toy or something they want in a public place only to allow it when the child whines and cries or throws a big horrible crying fit?

This should be the second rule of parentings...

*In the voice of the Genie from Alladin*
Rule #2, YOU as the parent, follow the rules!

And I am preaching to myself here, by the way because I am in no way perfect when it comes to this.

Okay, my profoundness has been recording for posterior, ahhmmmmm posterity! You may continue with your lives!!!


Kelly said...

Marla, I don't know if you can find it in Japan, but I have nail biting stuff you paint on your fingernails. It looks like a bottle of fingernail polish. It tastes horrible. It didn't work to get Jae to stop biting her nails, but it worked like a charm to get Caden to stop sucking his thumb. He willingly had me paint it on and he hasn't sucked his thumb since.

Marla said...

Kelly, this horrible tasting stuff, where do you get it? I would be very interested in that!!! I doubt it can be found in Japan but if you even could tell me the brand name or whatever, maybe I could find it online...

Emi Arikawa said...

Hey, this is Emi!
Your story reminds me my childhood... I used to be a thumb sucker too!!! I did thumb sucking until 7 years old. I strongly remember that I hide under a kotatsu and suck my thumb watching TV. I started thinking that it was embarrassing, but still I kept doing.
How could I quit?
I don't really remember the certain moment, but I think I was found by my friends at school or something. It made me feel so embarrassing and let me quit it.
Maybe, it was the first step for growing up consciously for me;)

Anyway, I agree with what you've said that parents should keep their promise before they say "keep your promise!" to their children.

You're great mom, Marla!
I love you!


Anonymous said...

Tried the horrible stuff...tried rules....tried nagging.

NOPE! What worked? A combo of bribery and finger puppets. My sister made these adorable little felt finger puppets for my girls. I've been trying to get her to copyright them and market them on ETSY. I think she has a brilliant idea. We have nicknamed them the Thumb Buddies. The twins wear them over their thumbs to help remind them to stop sucking their thumbs (they are 5 and I HATE thumb sucking). Also, we bought scooters, something they desperately wanted, and told them that only big girls could have scooters...and big girls don't suck their thumbs. I still occasionally catch them with their thumbs in their mouths, but it is MUCH better. I am a mean mom. On days that they do suck their thumbs, I don't let them play with their scooters.