My daughter decided she didn’t fancy brushing her teeth a couple of nights ago. It was quite a late night anyway, so I’d taken care, half an hour after her usual bed time to lay out to her what I was expecting to happen. On this basis we could get her teeth done quickly and have a chance to read some part of a story.
But it turned out, my daughter didn’t want to brush. Patiently, I explained the simple ground rules again – the sooner she got on with brushing her teeth, the sooner she could have stories. I ran through a some quasi Stoic advice for her – you can only do what you can do in this moment, no other time: five minutes had passed and she hadn’t brushed her teeth, she was getting very upset, and whilst I told her she should brush her teeth soon, or miss out on her story for lack of time.
Brushing teeth was a waste of time, she told me, I don’t like doing it. It must be tough, brushing your teeth, if you think it’s a waste of time. I pointed out once more that she was wasting more time by not brushing and protesting. On top of that she was getting upset. I offered her another Stoic technique, pointing out she has to brush her teeth our they’ll rot and fall out, so brush, because there’s nothing she can do.
After more than 20 minutes she grudgingly brushed her teeth, and went to bed upset that she would get no stories.Then spent nearly an hour yelling about wanting to read. It’s a parent’s nightmare, tough bedtimes and a child that doesn’t want to go to sleep. It’s easy to get upset and lose it, and just thinking I might terrifies me. So as I climbed the stairs to check on her as she continued to very about missing out on stories, I reminded myself that each time was an opportunity to interact with my daughter and show her love.
The end result, she calmed down and went to sleep in the end. Best part – I didn’t lose it and have that guilt feeling hanging over me – I maintained my tranquillity. The next night, she was brilliant, did what was asked of her, had a good story time, and confessed to me that she was pleased she’d behaved better. I’m not making her into a Stoic, but if she picks up some ideas, great!