Every few nights, when little Wes went to sleep, his father snipped off around 2 inches of his blanket, first from one side, then from another. He left two satiny sides for his son to hold onto. Eventually little Wes dragged around a 2-inch-square rag of a blanket.
That story still cracks me up when I think of this poor little baby walking around with a tiny rag. And I can't help but wonder what went through that baby's mind as he saw his blanket disappearing inch by inch.
When my oldest daughter, Keeley refused to give up her pacifier, I tried to reason with my 2-year old. "Big girls don't use pacifiers."
We walked through the mall without the pacifier and she was perfectly fine UNTIL we came across a little boy who looked to be around 4 years old sucking away on a pacifier. I wondered if that was her first clue that boys were the preferred sex in our world, even when it came to the right to suck on a pacifier.
As my children grew, I watched how other people raised their children and tried to adopt methods I thought would work for me in my parenting. So many things factor into how a child responds to different parenting methods – what works for one child might not necessarily work for another. But when we see other children behaving well, we want to know what they are doing that is different from what we are doing.
One thing I know for certain that works is consistency. If a child knows what to expect, he or she acts according to expectations and consistent action. If mom or dad insists the child go to bed at 8:30 and the child continues to get up with excuse after excuse (getting water, going to the bathroom), parents should address those issues BEFORE bedtime.
While some children are relentless and will make requests, night after night – more water, more food, read another book – if parents consistently refuse to give in to the demanding child, and if parents provide the kind of consistent loving care in every other area of the child's life, eventually the child will give in.
Consistency is tiring work. And some children can so exhaust a parent that some parents cave.
So whatever you do, do it with love and do it consistently. And don't cave in. The rewards are amazing!