Friday, November 03, 2006

Power Struggles and Peer Pressure

The children gather round the table. Today we're fingerpainting! "Okay, guys. Here's a big bib for each of you." Malli demurs. "No bib." Ah. Malli wants to play that old game, Power Struggle. She says no, and I'm to coax her into it, because we both know she wants to paint. Only I really don't like Power Struggle. It's a truly tedious game. First we try appealing to her better nature. "You have a pretty shirt on, sweetie. We don't want to get paint all over your clean shirt." "No bib." No response from her better nature. Right now, she'd rather play Power Struggle. So much for the sweet voice of reason. However, it takes two to play this game, and I'm not joining in. "Okay. You don't have to wear a bib if you don't want to. That's fine. 'Course, you can't fingerpaint unless you have one on." Warm, slightly regretful smile. She chews on that for a sec. Nuts! Power Struggle isn't nearly as satisfying when played by oneself. Some kids would up the ante, demanding to paint bib-less, but Malli and I have had our head-to-heads. I'm pretty confident she knows who'll win a head-to-head. Still, it's best if toddlers don't have your full attention when they're having to decide whether to back down - saving face is important at two years old - so I turn to Nigel. "Now then, lovie. Let's get that bib on you." Nigel ducks his head so I can put the bib over, sticks out his arms helpfully so I can do up the ties at the side. I hand him a pot of paint, show him how to smear the colours. Nigel is enjoying himself, providing all manner of positive peer pressure, and I am beaming all manner of unspoken messages over to Malli. "See, Malli? We're having a lot of fun, Nigel and I, because we are wearing our bibs! So much fun! Painting is soooo much more fun than Power Struggle! See how much fun you can have, when you wear your bib?!?" I give Malli a few moments to watch the fun, then turn to her with a smile. "Ready to paint, Malli?" "Yes, please." And she ducks her head so as to accept the bib. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

13 Comments:

Blogger Tater and Tot said...

Ah, power struggles and two year olds. They just go together!

11/03/2006 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous abogada said...

Congratulations on yet another battle won.

11/03/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Can you imagine if you didn't have Nigel? Or another kid around to show Malli what she was missing?

11/03/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I lose at Power Struggle a lot. Hate that game.

11/03/2006 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Look at you Mary P. rubbing it in a little. I like it.
My three year old has been beating down his Mom this week in the classic game of Power Struggle!
I have stepped in and saved the boy from mom's final power play twice this week.

11/03/2006 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Pewari Naan said...

Ah the power struggle. I am deeply familiar with them as my youngest is currently VERY two.

Can I ask your advice about them, actually? We're having a recurring power struggle with the potty. He's fairly good at going once I've got him on, but getting him on there gets me loads of "don' like i'" responses.

With elder son, I used to manoever around these impasses by choices - would you like to use the upstairs potty or the downstairs potty, are you going to do a wee or a poo, would you like to try the big toilet or the little potty? Youngest son however is oblivious to this form of persuasion (didn't read the same manual as his brother, obviously).

Any suggestions? I don't want to give him too much attention and give him the space to back down, but at the same time when he's doing the "I need the potty" jiggle dance I need him sat pronto!!

11/03/2006 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

ugh, Power sTruggle is a crappy game. I've been avoiding it by focusing on the little details that make up the big picture we're struggling over a lot of the time. so far with moderate success. For now...

11/03/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Malli gave up Power Struggle for painting! Wooo!

11/03/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Gee, it's nice that Malli chose to put on her bib, all by herself. ;)

Gonna half to get some of those bibs myself. I see paint in our future.

11/04/2006 01:11:00 AM  
Blogger Anne V said...

Peer pressure is excellent in certain situations. Now if there was only a way to control it and use it to parental advantage over time...

11/04/2006 09:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Good for you! Unfortunately my little power-struggle-player has a wee bit more of his father's stubborness in his blood. I swear that kid (my son, not his father) can play that Power Struggle game 'til his death!

11/04/2006 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger stefanierj said...

((scritch scritch scritch))

That's just me, taking notes. Countdown to Two has begun at our house. 2 1/2 months and counting.

11/05/2006 12:23:00 AM  
Blogger Mamacita Tina said...

Excellent! Mary, thank you for these little lessons that teach volumes.

11/05/2006 08:54:00 AM  

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