Pronounced BAH-CHEW-CHEE, it was a nickname my sister called her first-ever niece, Miss C-Jaz. According to urbandictionary.dom, this term is used to express "an absolutely wonderful bum". And that she is, myBachoochie, my little bum cheeks.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Limited Choices for Miss C-Jaz to "Eeny Miny Mo": Building Decision-Making Skills, Good Manners, and Social Graces through Listening

"She has a fairly regular ROUTINE so she knows what to expect each day.  I give her LIMITED CHOICES to help her practice making decisions." - from 'Terrible Twos'

Miss C-Jaz's routine continues to be consistent.  We get up around 08:00.  She has one nap usually after lunch.  We try to enjoy a few hours out when there's sunshine.  We do our daily chores, play games, read books, watch movies, 'Monsta Inc' in repetition to be specific.  By the end of the day, she's in bed by 21:00, ideally.  In a few weeks, though, some mornings will change as we attempt Swedish classes at J's work a couple of times a week at 09:00.  That should be interesting.  I've been working on a few phrases using my Swedish CD, but the intonations of the language are what makes it challenging.  It'll be another language to have...collect 'em all.  English is my first language, but I was exposed to Tagalog at home and French at school, which I teach the basics of at work.

With routines regular, Miss C-Jaz's day can go like clockwork.  It's in the opportunities I give her to practice making her own decisions through LIMITED CHOICES that can be challenging.  She's currently in the whining phase, but thankfully it only surfaces when she's cranky for food or a nap which is easily rectifiable.

I usually give her two choices, and if I'm bold, maybe three or four.

1. Which diaper do you want to wear?
She chooses between the dog, cat, koala, giraffe, and monkey pictures.  She avoids the caterpillar and individual children.  I have to get sneaky and make a switch to use her least favorite diapers mid-change, so that I don't use up the one or two diapers with the dog picture. 

2.  What do you want to wear today?
I choose 2 outfits, and she usually looks forward to "Eeny Miny Mo" it.  It's hilarious to watch. 

3. What do you want to eat for breakfast?
Oatmeal or toast?  Cereal or toast?  Then, we follow with fruit and/or juice, maybe a Shake-a-Shake-a-Shake-a-Mango.

4. If she inserts herself into preparing lunch or dinner, I find ways for her to help that keeps her safe.  If we boil pasta, she's far from the stove top, and I give her a bowl and a handful of fresh pasta, usually linguine-like, so that she can pull it apart into smaller pieces.   If we're going to have string beans, I'd show her how to break the ends off, and when that was too difficult I had her break it into halves.  If we were preparing salads she'd tear the romaine lettuce or I'd get her to put the cut cucumbers into the bowl (after she takes a bite out of the centers).

5. What pajamas do you want to wear?
This can be tricky because she often can't make up her mind.  There are some patterns she just doesn't like, but if I can get excited about it then sometimes that's the deal-breaker for her.

This stage in Miss C-Jaz's life is about trying to convince her to do or choose something, and it's about trying to make compromises with her.  I stay away from bribes and using food as reinforcement.   I've always talked to her with as little baby talk as possible but with plenty of hugs and kisses.  I give her verbal reinforcement to praise her actions.  When necessary I use a firm voice and a stern look to try and negate unacceptable comments or actions.  I avoid taking things away from her as a disciplinary tool.  Lately, if she throws things on the floor, I remind her that's not what we do to take care of the things we have.  This hits home for her especially if she's thrown down Bo or her bottle.  She's usually pretty receptive.  The important thing is deciphering between tired behavior and acting out.  Kimberly L. Keith listed 8 easy steps on How To Listen To Your Child.  I believe this is the key to avoiding power struggles and whining.  Practice and patience ;)

With Miss C-Jaz, and especially with my students in the classroom, I'm big on manners - please, thank you, excuse me - and etiquette - covering the mouth when coughing, blocking the nose when sneezing, not yelling or running around in public areas like restaurants.  There's a lot of social skills that people forget have to be taught and learned.  It can be tedious but it's important to J and I, and we try to stay consistent with Miss C-Jaz.  One article by Robin McClure has a few tips that can be useful to help you get started or just to reinforce what you may be doing already to build good manners and social graces.  Good luck and be willing!