Tuesday, February 3, 2009

No More Kisses, Dammit!

My kids are too smart for me.

It took them all about five minutes to figure out that, while I have no problem turning off the lights and closing the door on distressing cries of, "One more story!" and, "I want a song!" and, "I need water!" I am immediately overcome by, "Can I have another kiss?"

Me: "Of course you can have another kiss, my sweet baby, you can ALWAYS have another kiss, mnum, mnum, mnum, mnum, mnum . . ."

And I wonder why my kids aren't asleep until after 9pm.

Hilary has become especially adept at working the kiss angle. We have a rule at dinner that the kids need to sit until all their siblings and cousins have finished, but Hilary has a tendency to wander. Sometimes, I'll look up from my plate and see her standing right at my shoulder.

Me: "Hilary, sit down! You know you have to wait for everyone to finish before you're excused."

Hilary: "But I love you, Mom. I just want to give you a big kiss" (imagine expectant five-year-old, tilting her puckered face upwards for a smooch).

It seems so heartless to say, "No kisses!" But after almost a decade of working with behavior experts who have helped us in our quest to manage Jonah's behavior, I've learned the importance of not reinforcing undesirable behavior. So, when it's clear that my children are stalling, when it's obvious I'm being manipulated, I'm going to put my foot down: "You can have all the kisses you want . . . later."

No comments: