I know better. Rookie move on my part. Reverse psychology is a risky strategy to use with a four-year-old. Backfires happen easily and in the blink of an eye. They are highly unpredictable creatures.
And that is in fact what happened to me today. I meant what I said as a threat in hope that it would stop the whining. “Well then, maybe I should just not take you to school today!” I touted.
Preschool, I might add. The school that he loves and couldn’t wait to go to five seconds before we got into the car. Of course that threat would work.
Not so much.
Before I knew it, I was in a power struggle with my youngest son. I wanted him to go to school. Badly. That is one of the few times during the week I actually get to myself. But I had threatened and he took me up on it.
And just like quicksand, the harder I tried to get out the deeper I sank. And the deeper I sank the more committed I was to winning. And the more furious I became that I don’t control other human beings. Or at least the small one I was working with at the moment.
When we got home, I sent him to his room. This was another move in my strategic game. Yes, I was playing emotional chess with my four year old. Not one of my saner moments.
As he cried in his room and I ate some breakfast (never parent on an empty stomach), I reached out for help and called my husband. Sometimes all I need is someone outside my current struggle to bring me back to reality.
After I hung up the phone – now having food in my stomach – I realized…..the best way out of this was to put the game away and just tell the truth.
As a parent, sometimes the hardest thing to do is admit to my children when I have screwed up. The whole idea seems counter-intuitive. Kids need to know their parents are in control and know what they are doing. Admitting I don’t just seems wrong.
But what I have noticed time and time again as I have copped to my shortcomings is that it actually settles them. Not in a disrespectful way, either. In a genuine, the-world-seems-safer-now kind of way.
I totally don’t get it. I just know it to be true.
So I went into my son, scooped him up out of his bed and snuggled in with him on the couch. I told him I made a mistake. I told him I shouldn’t have said I wouldn’t take him to school. School is important and we don’t get to decide we don’t want to go just because. And I said I was sorry.
I told him what his choices would be moving forward. We snuggled some more. And then we headed out. No drama. No tears. No games.