Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Please Say Please

Amy and I have been trying to break Jada of her habit of communicating
via tantrums, by teaching her to say "up" and "done" and "please" to
tell us what she wants. From Jada's perspective, this is a bit of a
switcheroo -- "I was just getting the hang of the whole pointing and
shrieking thing, and now they're not responding to it."

I've been in countries where I don't know the language, and it is
frustrating. But it's been awhile since I've been 18 months and don't
know the language. So I empathize. Still, we're trying to hold the
line here; the thought being that if we let her communicate in bad
ways, she won't learn how to communicate in good ways.

Tonight, after Jada had finished dinner and I was just getting
started, she saw me cut up strawberries and extended her arm to ask
for one. One I decided I'd give her, because she had reached out her
hand nicely. But after that, I told her, I wanted her to say,

Well, it took a good two minutes of fussing and fighting, but she did
say the word, and I immediately responded with another strawberry.
After that one, she wanted a third, and I explained to her that I
needed her to say, "please." This time, she didn't; instead, she
stomped her feet and balled up her face and poured on the tears.

I really did want to give her more strawberries -- I was cutting them
for her -- but I didn't want to reward this form of communication. So
I explained again, I held her, I calmed her down -- but I didn't bend.
Ten minutes later, she said, "please," and I gave her another

I'd like to say that she learned how to say "please" from this whole
ordeal, but she hasn't -- yet. I ended up feeding her a couple more
strawberries, each one preceded by her saying, "please," which in turn
was preceded by several minutes of tantruming. By the end, she was
crying just because she had been crying for so long, so it was time to
end the lesson for now and move on to something else.

Poor kid. Life must be awfully confusing at that age. All the more,
Amy and I think, to be consistent in what we're trying to teach and
do. Even if it means you're begging your daughter to say please so
you can give her a strawberry.

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