November 11, 2010

Oh, Behave!!!

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , at 8:52 pm by autismmommytherapist

So much for the terrible twos. We are firmly entrenched in the “throttle-him-threes”.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m actually rather grateful to be here, even though this developmental phase includes the word “no” in every sentence, the declaration of fear before every trip to the potty that I’ve come to believe is completely bogus, and of course, the screaming every time Justin even looks in the direction of a toy with which Zach is playing. Just to be clear, I in no way think that these behaviors are simply a manifestation of my youngest son’s type of autism, as none of these shenanigans are new to me. I had my kids late, got to watch my friends’ children make their way into the world, and on a few occasions felt they were a better deterrent to childbearing than my birth control pill. Over the years I’ve frankly come to believe that any child under the age of six is inherently a writhing bundle of “me, me, me”, just waiting to be tamed by his or her parents.

And now, at long last, it’s my turn.

I’ve picked up a number of disciplinary techniques over the years, some from my classroom days, many from studying how my friends dealt with their progeny’s transgressions.  Since they’ve all turned out beautifully so far, I feel emulating their moves is a safe bet. I’ve cheered them on in their usage of “time-out”, helped a few construct fairly creative behavioral plans, and supported them when all else failed in their attempts at simple good old-fashioned punishment. I admit over the years I’ve been envious of their usage of “if-then” as a bargaining tool, a device I’ve been unable to put into play with Justin as his thinking is simply too concrete. But as Zachary has aged I’ve wondered how consequences would come into play with him, and have recently discovered the most wonderful bribe AND deterrent to undesirable behavior ever conceived.

His name is Santa.

I know. I have to be careful not to invoke his high holiness on too many occasions, as the threat of him only leaving presents for Justin if employed too often will eventually render him irrelevant. My husband and I reminded each other this past weekend to show restraint, and only “use” him when we’re really at the end of our ropes, when our battery of behavioral techniques has simply worn out. I promise Santa, we will be gentle.

But I will say this. That jolly old soul who needs to lighten up on the carbs is a powerful tool, and I’m going to be missing him greatly come January. Santa prevented Zachary from running around our house for the HUNDREDTH time yesterday in order to escape the dreaded potty, that same receptacle in which he’s been successfully and proudly peeing in for several consecutive weeks. The bearded one reminded my youngest son that he could indeed share his toys with his older brother and live, particularly since they were originally Justin’s in the first place. Hell, Old Saint Nick even got his lordship to put a string bean up to his lips, and although it was ultimately rejected, it was a start. Santa’s given me hope that eventually all of my son’s fruits and vegetables won’t ultimately come from a plastic bottle of V8.

So in case you’re feeling a bit “humbugish” this season, what with the plight of our economy and the equally depressing realization that you are no longer justified in eating your child’s “rejected” Halloween candy, I simply want to leave you with this thought, and hope it renews your faith a tiny bit in this time of year, if even for a moment.

Santa, my friends, really is magic.


  1. Nels said,

    Kim my dear, bribery will get you everything. Good job

  2. Mary Craig said,

    You should try the “elf on the shelf”….google it! You get them out and move them all around the house while telling the kids he’s Santa’s helper who sees everything & reports back to Santa.

  3. Lori said,

    Kim- There is something new now a days — Elf on a shelf – it is a little Elf that you can move around during the holiday season and he “watches” your kids to make sure they are behaving. This might help with leaving Santa as a last resort. And just to let you know, my kids are 13 & 16 and when they even suggest that Santa is not real I tell them to bite their tongues and hope that he delivers presents to them on Christmas morning!

    • I’ve had TWO people suggest this brilliant idea to me! The only problem is Justin will move/hide the elf on me, and I will go crazy looking for it (or more crazy than I already am). I am so bitter I didn’t think of this first! I might try a variation, thanks for the idea!

  4. misifusa said,

    I adore Santa for all those reasons and more! Perhaps we can find one to make a visit to your home?

  5. Jeanne said,

    On other technique that always worked like a charm with my girls was whenever they started arguing over a toy/tv remote etc (regardless of who was to blame) I would immediately take it and put it somewhere where they couldn’t have it. They learned pretty quickly to fight silently so I didn’t have to hear it (which was my goal of course).

    I have no idea if this will work with boys (even neurotypical ones) but I thought I’d throw it out there.

    • Ooh, that’s beautiful, would only work with Z probably. In some ways I feel like this is my first kid! Thanks though!

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