Friday, January 21, 2011

Distraction As Discipline

Jax has developed a less than attractive habit.  He is a hard core drama queen.  He melts into a puddle of misery and tears if things don't go his way--if I turn off the tv too early, if we don't have animal crackers, if the sun is in his eyes--he can just lose it.

Last night I was going out to meet a friend for coffee and before I left, Jax imploded.  Meanwhile, Em decided now would be a good time to get out of dodge so she made a poopy excuse for Daddy to take her upstairs and change, leaving me with the keys in my hand but a little guy who was not having it.  I can't even remember what set him off, could have been the wrong sippy cup for all I know, but I knew if I didn't stop him soon I wasn't going anywhere.  Sometimes he cries the entire time I'm gone if I don't deescalate his drama.  So, I picked a mommy's old standby:  distraction.

I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures of him having his mental fit.  I would look at the screen and chuckle exaggeratedly, like this was the funniest picture I'd ever seen.  Then I would take some more.  At first he really didn't get it.

But curiosity and then straight up vanity won out over hysteria.  He had to see what was on the camera that I found so amusing, especially when he realized they were pictures of him.

Suddenly my distraction morphed into a silly photo shoot. 
I said, "Enough crying pictures.  How about a funny face?  Stick out your tongue."

"Okay, now, wink at me.  No, only close one eye.  There you go."

"Now open your mouth as wide as you can go.  Wider!"

"Now pretend to be surprised.  Oh my goodness!"

"Now reach as high as you can go!"

And then he was smiling again.

It was amazing.  I didn't think it could work, but it did.  Playing on toddlers' egocentrism and their tendency to believe that they are the center of the universe really worked!  It was the ultimate distraction--himself!--and I got some funny pictures as a bonus.  The only pain was that he wanted to see the screen after every shot, but it only made him ham it up even more. 

I highly suggest this the next time your kids becomes incapacitated due to no nap, hunger, molars coming in, siblings being born, giving him or her the wrong spoon--you know, crises that could devastate humanity, or maybe just a toddler monster.  Anything to get a screaming kid to stop!  It's worth a try!

1 comment:

Dawniebee12 said...

Oh Gosh, that face looks all too familiar. God forbid his cheese is touching his toast...haha! I will try that tip next time!