Is this stimming? Is it a behavior? The argument in our heads goes something like this:
Thing 1: We must correct this behavior!
Thing 2: But what if she's stimming? If she's just doing it to settle herself down, how can we deprive her of this valuable coping mechanism?
Thing 1: You ALWAYS say that!
Thing 2: *shrugs*And so, like so many other things, we really don't know what to do. When it seems like she's spitting as a behavior, we "correct" her, and no, not in that creepy "The Shining" way (the original with Jack Nicholson, not the made-for-tv abortion with that "Wings" guy). If it seems like she's stimming, we try to ignore it. The whole thing reminds me, however, of a time when I was feeding her a jelly sandwich and she was being 'defiant'.
She would not eat the jelly sandwich. She knew I wanted her to eat the jelly sandwich. And she was hungry. But a jelly sandwich, despite being a satisfactory foil to hungers past, was not going to do it that day. It had been a long dinner fight; one that tried my patience and tested my judgement. Better to get food in her, or better to 'parent' the behavior? Address the undersized child's nutritional needs or address the unruly child's tantrums and refusals to eat?
Rallying my patience, I attempted a "preferred" food, one that was already part of her dinner; strawberries.
"Berries, Lily?" I asked, singsong.
"No berry." she replied angrily, scowling at me under long lashes and furrowed brow.
I placed the cut strawberry on her tray to entice her. She flung it over her head where it landed on the floor behind her.
I'd been coached to ignore this. I did so, placing another berry on her tray.
"PPPPPPFPFPFFPFTTTT!" she responded wetly, flinging this strawberry too across the room.
"Lily," I replied calmly, "no spitting."
"PPPPFFFPPPPPFFT!" she countered.
I ignored this and ate my dinner while Lily proceeded to throw a modest tantrum.
Emma, sitting on the other side of me observed the proceedings stoically. After the crying had gone on for a couple minutes she asked, worriedly, "Daddy, why aren't you paying attention to Lily?"
I turned to face Emma, calmly, capitalizing on this important teaching moment, "This is called active ignoring, honey. While Lily is behaving this way, I ignore her. When she calms down and can use her words, I'll pay attention again."
Lily, sensing the wisdom of my uber-parenting, chose that moment to settle down, asking plaintively, "Daddy?"
"See honey," I continued to Emma, smiling, "Now I'll answer her, because she's using her words and asking nicely for my attention."
|My little lady sips delicately whilst watching the telly.|
I turned in my seat to face Lily. I leaned next to my little girl and asked her gently, "Yes, Lily, what do you want?"
"PPPPFFFPPPPPFFT!" she replied as her mother and her sister burst out laughing next to me.
Game. Set. Match.