Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Help please, no.

"Help please, no."

The Nugget uses this phrase about 30 times an hour, and we've yet to decipher its meaning.

Option 1: If you help, he screams and bats you away, stamping his tiny feet.

Option 2: If you don't help, he will repeat it more and more urgently, looking at you with plaintive puppy dog eyes, and a single tear will start to roll down his face. At which point, you are moved to attempt Option 1, which always ends badly.
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My brother, the Nugget's Uncle J, called a few times yesterday with baby registry questions. The Nugget got very excited, stopped playing with the ceiling fan switch, and begged to talk to his uncle, "Talk Unca J please." When handed the phone though, he was perfectly silent. I prompted him, "What did you want to tell Uncle J?" His eyes lit up, and he proudly pronounced his important news, "The fan's stopping."
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When hungry, the Nugget will now verbally request a laundry list of foods. "Some snack please. Some waffle, honey please. Some sandwich please. Some oatmeal please." If you tell him that that yes, you can have a waffle later, but we are waiting for dinner which is coming in just 5 minutes," the requests will go on and on. "Some crackers please. Some nogurt please. Some cookie please. Some hot dog please. Some mac'roni please." Heaven help us if he finds the big word book, the one with a 2 page spread full of (mostly junk) food. He'll bring it and point out the different options to the thick adult who is failing to provide him with sustenance. "Pizza! Cupcake! Candy!" (Seriously, I've got a bone to pick with Roger Priddy - I see your token photo of broccoli, but it is dwarfed by Joseph's amazing technicolor jellybeans.)
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We've been using a new form of time-out with the Nugget. We cleared his room of furniture, save the crib and his Thinking Chair. When he starts to act Hulk-like, we tell him quietly that we can see he's upset but can't understand his screaming/crying, and that it looks like he needs a little Nugget time. We escort him calmly to his totally room, shut the door, and let him rant and throw pillows to his heart's content. We check in when the noise stops (usually just a minute or two) and ask if he's ready to talk calmly. Usually then, he will say, "Nugget sad because want to open door self/want pink nogurt/some other great injustice." It's been working really well, and often we don't even choose to give him what he wanted. He just wants to be heard.

Because we stopped framing it as a punishment and gave it the new name "Nugget time", sometimes now all we have to do is ask if he needs a little Nugget time. Often he'll answer in the affirmative and go up to his room on his own, then clomp back down the stairs with a big smile on his face, ready with a hug and a "sorry", and back to playing. A bazillion thanks to my friend L (who has a similarly attention-driven daughter) who helped me come up with this solution. I really like that it's a real life skill that he can use to calm himself down, and have been occasionally giving myself "Mommy time" when I'm overwhelmed too!

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