Let me start this by saying that I’m not a parent– I’m an aunt– and nor am I a child psychologist. I just thought that this was a good little trick.
While babysitting my nephew, he decided to take a pack of cards and throw all of them on the grown in an inelegant 52 card pick up style. My mother– his grandma- and grandmother– his great-grandma– wanted him to pick up the cards so that he wouldn’t slip on them and fall, but they also wanted to just get it over with and pick the cards up themselves.
A few things that I’ve remembered from my Child Psychology class taught me that you have to have patience with a child and not give in when you want them to do things. Kids, even at that age know how to get you to do everything for them. After all, you do handle their poop on a regular basis. So, I kept telling my elders to stop picking it up for him. He had to learn to do it himself.
It’s almost impossible to keep a 2 year olds attention for long enough to do anything. At one point, the cards are the most exciting point. Then it’s the fire engine book with the spinning wheels. Then it’s cracker he wants out in the kitchen. And if actually doing things with him seems to quickly go from this to that to this, whatever is running through his mind is probably going at an even faster rate. Needless to say, he probably forgot all about the cards for a while, and if my mother and grandmother wanted to pick them up themselves, they probably could have. But I was determined.
Once we were back at the cards, I started asking my nephew to pick them up. I know that he picks up his own toys and puts them away: I’ve seen him do it. So he should do this. But he wouldn’t. He would pick the cards up and throw them somewhere else. And I almost started to clean it up myself when I had an idea.
“Can I have a card?” I asked him, at which point he promptly picked a card up and walked it over to me. So I asked again. And again. And again until he had picked up and given me all of the cards.
Now, “Odessa,” you’re saying, “just because he did that once doesn’t me he’ll ever do it again.” Well, I suppose it’s impossible to tell what he’ll ever do again at this age, but I remembered again my Child Psychology class where the professor explained that in order to make a child understand that what they are doing is right or wrong you have to praise or punish the moment it’s done. So after every card, I thanked him a gave him a big hug. He giggled and was only too happy to give me another card when I asked.
My grandmother was thrilled that I had gotten him to pick all of the cards up. It takes determination and patience in order get a child to do what you want, and at that moment, I was full of both.