Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dress You Up

Everyday is the same routine. I spend what seems like half the morning trying to convince my son to take off his pajamas and put on clothes, only to turn around after dinner and have to wrangle him into his pjs again.
Logic doesn't work. Pointing out that his younger brother is already dressed (or undressed) has no effect. The threat of not leaving the house all day doesn't carry water.
One book on coping with the behavior of children suggested tackling the problem with humor. The author must have been a better man than I could hope to be because I find nothing humorous in trying to convince a four year old to get dressed, before the newspaper, before a cup of tea. Ditto for the end of the day when I'm exhausted and just want him to "get into your pajamas already!"
I've also read that you should indulge them periodically with the occasional pajama day. This advice is bunk because after you break all the rules once they can't understand why everyday can't be pajama day.
I've had some success in appealing to his competitive side by getting out the stop watch and timing how long it takes him to dress. Sometimes this works, but what you ultimately want is for them to want to get dressed - to want to cooperate - not to be tricked into it.
I think the real problem is that adults and kids see time completely differently. For you and I, the space between breakfast and lunch is brief, it's as if I finally get him dressed when BANG! it's time to get him undressed. The way he sees it, the time between morning and evening is almost infinite. I know this is true because often around lunchtime he'll say, "remember this morning when it took me so long to get dressed?" As if it's possible I might have forgotten something that happened a mere three hours ago.
"Yes," I say.
"Did you know it would take me so long to get dressed?" he says, sincerely unable to remember that we've played this game before.
"Yes," I say.

song: Dress You Up • artist: Madonna

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