Before I was a mom I was an ed tech. I worked at an elementary school for 3 years and that entire time, I didn’t really struggle with student behavior. A solid 90% of the time, the kids would listen the first time I asked them to do something. When I got pregnant, I (naively) thought, alright, most children I’ve dealt with listen when I tell them not to do dangerous things. Mine will too.
Ever since Zoey learned to move around on her own, she’s had a concerning obsession with dog/cat food. She plays with it. Eats it. Throws it around. She recently discovered the water bowl, and that’s even worse. She splashes, cavorts, and generally makes a mess.
I’ve tried time outs. I’ve tried moving the food. I’ve tried distraction. I’ve tried USING A FIRM VOICE. This baby has no interest in what I say or do. She wants the dog food.
So this week, while I was studying for the Praxis, I thought Zoey was playing with her toys in her play center. But she snuck out of the living room and into the kitchen. Then she gorged herself with dog food. So much dog food that she threw it all right back up.
Her single minded obsession with dog food finally bit her in that cute baby behind. And, yes, I cleaned her up and snuggled her, and made sure there were no ingredients in the food that would hurt her. But then I laughed. And I would be lying if I said I felt bad. I don’t at all; she totally deserved it.
There’s a school of behavioral theory that promotes “natural consequences”. Basically, if a person insists on doing an undesirable behavior, let them do it and watch it blow up in their face. They probably won’t do it again. The dog food vomit incident was Zoey’s first lesson in natural consequences and I am proud to say that Zo has gone two days dog food free.
I spent so much time trying to stop her from getting into it when the only thing that actually worked was to let her learn from her own mistakes. ‘
There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.