I’ve been told that the teachers at school think Gavin is a very well behaved, polite and well-spoken little boy. As proud as I am to hear such praise for my son, I often wonder why he can’t behave a little more like that when he’s at home. When I shared the news with my SIL, she did a double take and asked if they hadn’t mistaken my son for someone else’s child.
The funny thing is that my godson is exactly the same. A little rascal at home but an angel at school. It’s funny how many children only show their true colours at home but not in the presence of “strangers”.
The psychology behind this is that toddlers feel more at ease in their home environment and are more willing to expose their less pleasant qualities. It is a little akin to how we tend to show our ugliest side to the people closest to us because we are confident that they will still accept us warts and all. While I’m touched that Gavin feels secure in my love, it doesn’t make it any easier for me to have to deal with his less pleasant side.
That said, I’ve recently discovered a new tactic for dealing with difficult behaviour. Whenever Gavin tells me “no” when I ask him to do something, I simply respond with:
“Well Gavin, there are always two options. You can go by yourself or I can drag you there kicking and screaming. Which would you prefer?”
Invariably, he’ll tell me that he’ll go by himself.
It hasn’t always been this easy. There have been times when he’s tested me to see if I would really drag him kicking and screaming. And I did. When it comes to a toddler, you can’t make empty threats. If he does test me, I have to harden my heart and ignore his screams and cries when he calls my bluff. Thankfully he’s quick on the up-take and we don’t often have to go through that.
The other one involves the packing away of his toys. Whenever he refuses to pack his toys on his own, I’ll tell him:
“You can pack them away yourself, or I can pack them away where you can’t play with them any more. Which would you prefer?”
I guess the benefit of dealing with Gavin now that he is older is that it is getting easier to reason some good behaviour out of him. We’ll have to see how long this works before he figures out a way to counter it…