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Suck it Up, Buttercup

I am so sick of giving positive reinforcement.

Eleanor I like how you asked Cynthia before you just took the Hatchamal she was playing with. And Cynthia I like how you shared with your sister.

Great job wiping! No skid marks today!

It's exhausting. I mean I understand it's like number one in terms of effectiveness in the Parenting Bible - encourage good behavior rather (drink) than harp on the bad. And since I do a lot of harping, it's important to give credit where credit is due.

I remember when Cynthia went through her biting phase. I was instructed by someone I deemed an expert in the field of childhood development, to comfort the victim and completely ignore the vicious culprit. It felt weird not to berate her for sinking her teeth into one of her sibling's flesh. But I listened to the experts, and it worked. The biting (drink) phase was short-lived and the puncture wounds were minimal.

Some kids are more receptive than others when it comes to bolstering their egos. Kaleb basks in compliments and takes the bate like a mouse to cheese. He'll strut around reveling in his accomplishment of bringing his dish to the sink as if he was a first responder who had just rescued a cat from a burning building.

The problem with positive reinforcement, aside from the sheer stupidity of the things that come out of my mouth, is the jealousy. Compliment one of them on stifling a belch at the table and another is bound to site injustice. "I never even burp and you basically (drink) throw a party for Kaleb just because he didn't do a loud one! It's not fair!" "Yeah, well, we're not communists so life's not fair. Get used to it." Then there will be pouting, maybe even stomping out of the room in outrage. And here I was, attempting to implement a professionally advisable parenting technique for once.

And when does it stop? Sometime before adulthood, I guess, because nobody's telling me I'm doing a great job scrubbing toilets. I'm happy if I get a thank you, let alone a compliment on the super crispy bacon I labored over, never mind another tee shirt lost to bacon grease.

I bet if kids practiced the art of positive reinforcement, it would help their cause tremendously. Think about it: every single day, you cook endless meals, fold mounds of laundry, and dedicate a solid three hours at the sink doing dishes. This is all (drink) expected. It is part of our job description. And we try not to complain because after all, it's what we, as parents, signed up for. But it gets old fast. Wouldn't a simple "wow mom (or dad), I've never seen the blender so shiny!" raise your spirits? Or, "gee mom (probably not dad but I'm generalizing here), your technique for folding underwear is unparalleled." I mean wouldn't you be more inclined to indulge them in another round of Candy Land if they sung your praises?

It won't happen though - because kids are kids. As a child, I never had any clue what my parents went through to simply keep the household running. It didn't even cross my mind. I do, however, remember the praise for making my bed every day, the accolades for being a good big sister, the small parade they threw the first time I did my own laundry. As my (drink) mom likes to say, "you get out what you put in." It's tedious sometimes to put forth the effort, especially when that effort backfires. But it's part of the job. So suck it up buttercup.

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