Based on her temperament I don't THINK it's defiance, although it's likely to be line-finding: seeing how much she really has to do. Paul told me that when he was a child, his mom would tell him to do a task---say, mowing the lawn. He would start mowing, but then halfway through he'd "come in for a drink of water" and then drift away and start reading a book. He found that if she came upon the task half-done, and then found him reading, she would sigh heavily and then finish the task herself. As you can imagine, this pattern has caused us some issues in our marriage. Thanks for the enduring legacy, mother-in-law.
But I see how easy it is to do, without intending to. When I tell Elizabeth that after she takes her shower she needs to bring her discarded pajamas back to her room with her, and then after she's left for school I find those pajamas still on the bathroom floor, it's easy to sigh heavily and do it myself: I don't want to look at the clothes on the floor all day, and I don't want to bring out the Big Parenting Guns for a single episode of forgetting.
But it's not a single episode anymore, which snuck up on me a bit. With my own temperament, and with this number of children, and with the way I'm typically half-composing a blog post in my head at any particular time, a child has to do something quite a few times before it gets to the front of my attention---which CAN be good (it means my controlling/micro-managing impulses are distracted and I'm not likely to jump on the kids for one single error or for an issue that will resolve itself) but also CAN be bad, because things can get pretty far off-track before I realize I need to engage the parenting engines. Then it takes longer to pull things back to where they should be than it would have if I'd noticed and corrected right away.
As in this case, where even though for several days I have been pointing out the problem to Elizabeth and cracking down on the follow-through, I haven't yet seen a change in HER behavior---just in MINE, which is the first stage of change. I don't remind her three times; instead, the very first time I need to remind her I include a gentle scold with that reminder: "Elizabeth. You are supposed to be putting away your backpack without me reminding you." I DO leave her pajamas on the bathroom floor all day so she can put them in the laundry herself when she gets home from school---and to compensate me for looking at the messy heap all day, I also have her do another little task for me. Instead of waiting to scold until after we've had to scramble and panic, I include a partial scold with an instruction: "Time to get ready for school. And remember, you've been dawdling recently and then we've both had to scramble, and a scolding at the bus stop is not a nice way for either of us to start our day; let's not have that happen today."
|(the view this morning, after Elizabeth left for school)|