Today while we were out running errands, my son was asking about doing something or other and as I answered him I realized I never actually say the word "no." It's just instinctive now, I don't even think about it. The easiest way to set off an oppositional child is to directly challenge them. Saying "no" does just that. Through necessity, I have found a way to answer "yes" to just about everything. Indirectly, that is. An example of this is while checking out at a big box store today, they had all sorts of candy and chocolate right by the register. My son asked if he could have one. This is right around dinner hour, there are people lined up behind us and no way do I want a scene. So, I answer him with, On Saturday when we do our "big" errands, you may certainly have a candy bar for a treat. What kind do you think you will choose? I continue to check out as I do this and he is discussing and discarding different kinds and before you can blink, we are headed out of the store, still discussing which candy bar he can choose. I am very active in this discussion and we very seriously discuss the merits of several different brands. We also have another routine I follow consistently. Every time we park in a parking lot, I will say, who can tell me one rule for this store? They each take turns and we cover the rules each and every time. Four stops in a day, four discussions of rules. Children with prenatal alcohol exposure have very "disconnected" wiring in their brain. It isn't so much that they cannot learn, but they cannot retrieve at will. Our discussion of rules is something we have done for the last couple of years and it works very well. If they start to complain that we just did that, I just answer with, oh good this won't take long then, in my cheeriest voice. Usually at our last stop, they are allowed to pick a small treat. In their minds, I have been buying stuff all day, so they should buy stuff, too. It really isn't about, I am so greedy I have to have more. They think concrete. You go in a store, you buy something you need. They have a need. We discuss, in the car, what type of treat it will be and how much it can cost. This solves a lot of arguing about pointing to a fifty dollar toy and asking me to buy it. We sort of look "together" for something in their price range and we get excited when we find it. If they do see something that is not what I consider reasonable, I will put a concerned look on my face and ask them, is that in the price range you have to spend? This puts it back on them in such a way, they feel as if it is their money they are spending. For the most part, these strategies work really well. What you have to be prepared to do is to follow through. If we are discussing rules or treats and one of them begins to whine or cry about not getting what they want, you simply have to follow through and not go into the store. No matter what. My rule is, if you can't follow the store rules, we cannot go in. You literally have to start the car again and prepare to drive off. I have had to do this only a time or two. Leaving without buying anything at all seems to be a memory they retain!
More from parenting