About a week ago Max was in one of his “moods.” He was stomping around and pouting about what four year olds usually pout about: television. He wanted to watch more and I said that he’d seen enough, so I turned it off. A pretty heated argument ensued, because that what we do now…argue. He ran off yelling at me from over his shoulder(you’ll note he’s already learned how to get the last word!), and I continued about my business. An hour later, Max reappeared and said to me, “I’m sorry I’m a bad boy.” Damnit.
Of course I feel aweful and I have no idea where he got that term. I always use the phrase, “You’re being naughty right now,” or, “Max, that is very naughty behavior.” I really don’t use “bad boy,” because it just sounds kinda harsh to me. Anyway, I sat him down and told him that he was not a bad boy, he just did naughty things sometimes. Cue blank stare, blank stare, eyes wandering….okay, obviously that concept was over his head so I switched gears. I said, “Max you’re not a bad boy. You’re a good boy.” Well, that made him smile and it seemed like the conversation was over. He bounded off pacified and content while I patted myself on the back for being a totally awesome mediator.
I thought the conversation had been quashed, but that night he lay in bed and asked me to “sweep” with him. So I laid next to him and he then proceeded to ask me, “Mommy, can you pweese talk to me about being a good boy.” Well that hit me right in the gut and it occurred to me that he spends most days listening to how he’s messing up. Either I’m correcting him on manners, hitting his sister, arguing etc. But I don’t really spend the same amount of time praising him. So, I’ve made it a mission to try and point out the good things he does every day. Some days it’s harder to find equal amounts of good vs bad, but I’ll even use, “Good job playing the Wii son!” if it means keeping it equal.
I can tell you that every night, after the teeth have been brushed, songs have been sung and books have been read, I lay with him and we discuss all the ‘”good” things he did that day. Before I leave, instead of just saying “Good night,” I now say, “Good night…good boy.” The little smile that spreads on his face is enough to get me up the next morning and do it all over again…even if I have to really dig to find something nice to say.