There are times in every parent’s life (maybe more often than we expect) when we have to “punt,” which is to do something to make our kids comfortable when things don’t line up in their favor. I’m here to give you permission to punt…lets talk about it.
Alright…lets face it: we can’t control everything that affects our kids’ behavior. There is no way around that family reunion, the power is going to go off every now and then, your father-in-law is going to require everyone to sit together, including the 2 year old, to hear family stories “because they will appreciate it later.” No-win situations for the kids (or for you if you don’t watch out).
These are opportunities for your child not to learn how to manage difficult situations. What I mean by that is, sometimes all I want a kid to do is NOT learn how to escape terrible situations by screaming and crying, NOT to freak out and hit cousin Millie because she has never been allowed to lose a game (and now she has), NOT to scream “I DONT CARE ABOUT MY GREAT GREAT AUNT, HALF REMOVED! (“what is ‘half removed anyway, Mommy?’”). These are infrequent, but potentially powerful moments in parenting.
Punting is OK.
Because these events are infrequent (and even if they are not), I am giving you permission to bring the DS, to bring the My Little Ponies, to allow Harry Potter to come along for the ride. This is “the punt.” Your goal is to get through the day, hour, half-our and sometimes the best treatment is preventative.
Now, don’t confuse me. If you can control, either through practice or through management of the environment (making sure your kid doesn’t play Chutes and Ladders with Millie, leaving the party before Uncle Dave starts using “potty words” or speeding through the grocery to get the last minute items) absolutely do it. You cannot win a game by punting all the time. You can win if you punt at the time when the alternative ensures the loss.
I have talked over and over about preparation and practice, and how important it is to expose your kids to difficult scenarios little by little to ensure success. However, sometimes there is not a possible way to re-create or to practice a certain circumstance. You do not have ample control over the environment (the things, people and places you might run across), so you are at a loss before you start.
So what is “the punt?”
“The punt” is what you would do to give into your kid when she starts protesting, but doing so BEFORE it happens (not after…that would be silly and would defeat the purpose). Do not wait, just go ahead and let him bring the trains along to entertain himself, take advantage of a portable DVD player, YouTube on your iPhone for crying out loud (seriously, crying out really loud).
DO THIS BEFORE THE BEHAVIOR OCCURS.
You know it is going to happen, heck you even want to rev up the engines and get out of there. You ask for another glass of wine to get through it…the least you can do for your kid is to give her a little extra Elmo time to get her through. You cannot force it…you will regret it.
Your family won’t remember your kid was in the other room watching TV, they will remember the massive tantrum during the 3rd course of dinner. But that is not what this is about. This is about NOT putting your kid in a situation where behavioral failure is inevitable. You have been there before, you will be there again.
I give you permission to punt. It might be the best defensive move your offense has made.