Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lesson Permanence

"It's not my fault!" she screams at the top of her voice as breakfast is canceled since she's about to be late for school. Dawdling when she should have been brushing her teeth, feeding the cats and getting dressed. But it's not her fault.

No. It's the fault of the tooth brush, the pants and the hairbrush. Clearly they are all conspiring against her to make her late, to get her in trouble, to steal her breakfast.

"Take responsibility for your actions." say we obnoxious parents. This is a lesson best learned early. She can't keep blaming inanimate objects for making her dawdle or making her late.

"It's mommy's fault!" she insists. Better than a hairbrush, I suppose. We never establish exactly how it is my fault, except that in this house I play the role of the Heavy. The Bad Cop. It was I who announced breakfast was canceled when she was down to the last 5 minutes before she had to walk out the door and go to school.

This scene, or a close facsimile of it occurs almost every day. When will she learn this lesson?

Babies exhibit the concept of object permanence around 8-9 months of age. When does lesson permanence occur?

My friend and I were talking about how her daughter always asks/begs/demands a treat from the vending machine at the local rec center every time they visit, even though the answer is always no. She's starving and will absolutely expire on the spot if she can't have an over-priced, over-packaged, heavily salted or sugared food-like item right now.

Her mom says no, just like last time.

When will she learn this lesson?

When I ask my daughter to turn off the DVD player or go get ready for bed, she is continually surprised by having to endure negative consequences for lack of compliance. Then, when the Hammer of Mom Justice is brought down on her the really repellent bratty behavior occurs: screaming and whining about how it's all so unfair! and how I'm being mean.

Yup, I'm mean alright. I'm teaching you a lesson.

I'll stop being mean just as soon as you learn it.


Jennifer H said...

Any day now, right? Seriously, I wish it came sooner.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

As John Rosemond points out, it doesn't cost them anything to nag. And if, one time out of a hundred, the nagging nets them some treat, well, why not try it?

I swear, it's like Chinese water torture sometimes.

Swistle said...

I am having the same problem with my 3rd grade boy. NOTHING is EVER his fault, despite my constant training on this issue (it's one of my hot buttons, so I consistently SLAM the SMALLEST hint that he's not taking responsibility). Sigh. I assume it EVENTUALLY sinks in.

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