There are many valid reasons for this to happen: I´m a newbie at taking care of a kid (I only held a baby for the first time when I was pregnant and I simply was never around any kid before), I´m very soft and easy to bend in any relationship (it pisses me off my ability to be submissive), and the strongest one must be the fact that I´m really doing it all by myself (no family nearby, and changing countries twice in five years didn´t help much in the support system department).
So, I do have some excuses to be a lousy, permissive mom, but I´m not going to settle for them. I decided I have a last chance to enhance my influence on this kid right now. I only have 1,5 years till she´s 6, and that´s basically when our influence as parents cease dramatically.
Let me get more specific here. My kid seems much smarter than me when she wants something, like being held. She is so good at bluffing, she knows the right face that will bend me. I caught her a few times doing this: she made this face, I picked her up and then I saw her smiling mischievously behind my shoulder. I even called her on her act and she confirmed what she just did.
She can get my attention so easily. She not only knows how to do it because she is smart, but truth be told, I trained her this way. She is simply used to getting me away from anything to attend her. So, it´s up to me to change this and not blame her for our situation.
I talked to a good friend about this. One that I can ask an opinion that is not to punish my daughter. I specifically asked: ¨What can I do to stop her, that is not punishing her?¨
I asked for an intervention because sometimes you do need an outside perspective to see what´s going on. It was to a friend, who has 2 single daughters (she had one daughter and after 13 years, she had another one) and thus has know-how in single girls.
She agreed that I had a problem going on, but though I was a bit desperate thinking that now I have extra work undoing some of the things that I´ve been doing naturally (Shit, do I have to stop being me?), she calmed me down by saying that it´s going to be easier than I think, that my daughter is intelligent enough (what kid isn´t?) to adjust to the change, if I really do change in some details.
The main thing I have to do is to not play a certain situation in the same way every time. You might need to think about mixing up your game too, especially if like me, your game is all about giving what your child wants (and not what she needs, like Jesper Juul talks about in his book Your Competent Child).
It looks like I´ve been using the same old strategy every time (or none, just my natural way that doesn´t work), so my daughter can expect the same behavior coming from me (namely, she knows how far her whining has to go to make me act in the way she wants).
I like to justify myself by saying that I can´t be playful at all times, I just need her to do what I need her to do. I´m not the most natural playful parent. So, ok, I won´t become a clown, but I can do it at times, and not be mad and whine myself when she doesn´t do what I expect her to. I can mix that natural reaction of mine with times in which I pretend to not care about what she´s doing to catch my attention and get busy with something else.
More action and less words is what I need. Keep washing the dishes, watering the plants or working instead of dropping anything to see what she wants. It sounds easy, but it takes a lot of focus to do this.
Being firm and sticking to it is one of the most logical parenting advice you can think of, but doing it can be quite hard for me. I hardly realize that I´m putting myself in second place every time, or that I´m spoiling her by not letting her wait enough for me to be ready for her.
If you asked parents of spoiled children what they do to spoil their children, they´d feel offended. No one thinks they are spoiling their children, and yet, many of us are doing exactly that. Have you ever thought about how you spoil your children and what to do to stop it.