Socratic Parenting

I just noticed this morning how many questions I use with the kids when I’m redirecting and/or annoyed with them.

When they’re mindlessly mouthing random objects:

Is that food? Does it belong in your mouth?

Seeing their use of books as stepping stones across an otherwise clear floor:

Are books for standing on?

Through squalls of desire for the latest must-have object:

Would you like a timer?

This is how an object changes hands. Sometimes the have-not will be so worked up and angry about not getting it *now* that she’ll screech No! and the result (her sister gets it even longer) just ramps her further until her focus changes.

They have both reacted this way, but it’s the best thing I’ve figured out so far, and when no one’s overtired it works really well.

Natasha will occasionally give the object to Melody because of the melt-down, so she gets enough reinforcement to try each time. I don’t really want Natasha to be less generous, but I’d really like to quit feeding the fire.

When one comes to tell me brokenly (and usually loudly) of her sister’s insensitivity:

Have you told her that makes you unhappy?

When the other refuses to modify her behavior:

Would you like it if she did that to you?

This latest still means nothing to Melody, but Natasha seems to just begin to understand it. I’ve only said it a couple times, but she has looked cowed, obviously seeing it that way for the first time, and has usually changed her behavior.

We’re in Chaos Here

…but at least I can still feed them well.

We had ham and chix chowder for dinner and homemade choc ice cream for desert.

While finishing up in the kitchen I had fun thinking about the different things being said around our front room (one of them was me, and one was Jay. The rest were Natasha. Melody is currently on a nodding kick, where she seems to be resisting our family’s tendency to use words so much).

  • “Respect her ‘No,’ Dad.” (Melody wasn’t in a mood to be teased and said so).
  • “Give her time, she just woke up.”
  • “Play Fives…with the pickle.” (“And the tickle?”)
  • (“Ew, yuck, I don’t like that.”) “That’s not something you can say to your mom. you can only say, ‘Thank you, very much!’ And eat it all up.”
  • Please don’t break your neck. That would make me very sad.

Natasha has begun to invent in her conversation. She told us all about her telephone conversation with Uncle Benjamin while we ate dinner. Bet you didn’t know he’s got three kids (he hasn’t told her their names yet) and he broke his arm last night.

How did he do that? Well, there was this tree, with spiky things sticking out of it. And Benjamin wanted very much to hug his mom, and was running toward her very fast and banged into the tree… and his arm fell off.

(This injury was why he didn’t have time to list the names of his children.)

But he was very happy to see his mama, and hugged her anyway. With his only-one arm.

Yeah, it might have been messy, but he was getting it taken care of. That’s why he couldn’t talk on the phone long. And his kids were staying with Abby and Hannah while he got fixed up.

We are just going to have to start recording dinners. It was a total hoot.

Fine-tuning our Sleep-plan

We are *so* not buying brand-name Children’s Motrin again. The generic tastes so much better.

I’m looking today, and if we don’t have any generic in the house we’re going shopping this morning. Elisha’s learning to resist medicine, and that wasn’t the case before. This stuff is nasty, and I hope we can train him back to accepting the good stuff w/o a struggle.


In other news, he slept six-hours together withe the Ib/disposable plan from last night.

Bad news is he only slept 6-hours. He woke at five and hasn’t stayed down yet.

Note to self:

  • Change his diaper anyway
  • Give him medicine anyway
    • So what if it isn’t pain? You don’t know that it isn’t; he’s not going to OD. And if it is pain, do you really want to stay up the extra hour to find out?

Well, he’s sleeping *longer*…

Elisha was up three times in the night (I can’t remember what his top-wakings number was– that phase was an understandable haze).

But thankfully we seem to be at the next phase of sleep teaching.

(The first, if I forgot to mention, at its worst had him up nearly every 45-minutes. That was doubled maybe once or twice per night, and never in the day).

I did a slog of training to get him used to his bed. We didn’t do cry-it-out with him because it’s become apparent he has Melody’s temperament in this. Natasha at this stage was a breeze: 5-7 minute of sleepy (or occasionally 9-minutes, or loud) crying, she was out comfortably, breathing quietly.

Not so with the younger two. Stories for another day.

I’ve also bought a variety of types of baby food (under the tsk tsking of some church moms who pointed out the expense). These I open one or two at a time and see how much I can shovel in before he gets completely distracted by his sisters’ popping over to entertain him.

The full tummy I think is helping him get more of his calories in the day so he doesn’t need to cry for them at night. Having a variety of foods keeps him engaged longer.

Telling the girls to leave him alone seems to be like telling them to sit-still or keep their volume down.

Their brains only remember for so long– and I haven’t wanted to make it a (physical) discipline issue yet, because the reason they come back is they adore him, and they don’t want to be away from his delighted smile.

That’s hard to get strict about.

Anyway, he’s above/around ~ 3 hours at a go, which (thankfully) allows me a few sleep cycles as well. I have been functioning perceptively better in the last few days.

But I am still thankful for the lunch-hours Jay comes home and gives me a short nap in the middle of the day. Does so much to strengthen me for the afternoon and dinner-time. (Nap-time doesn’t match on a daily basis right now).

Anyway, best I could tell, one of the wakings last night was because his pain med ran out (there are either two or four teeth trying to push through. I’m not sure), and one was because he was soaked (he hates being wet in a way the girls never have).

We might try going to disposables at night and see if that make a difference, and do ibuprofen instead of Tylenol– since it lasts longer. (I usually do Ib anyway, only I couldn’t find the open bottle last night).

I like having specific ideas to work with. Having something specific to change gives me hope for improvement.

I also like being less tired and having a more-positive approach beyond simply surviving.

Hot chips

Jay bought two varieties of Dorito chips while we were out shopping yesterday. Both of them spicy.

Our girls love doritos, so when Jay opened a bag tonight he gave some to each of them. Poor things! They wanted so much to eat them but they were too hot. Jay said they’d take a little nibble, then guzzle down their water (or milk) and ask for more.

They got through about a chip and a half this way, before they gave up.