Anyone with a small child knows it takes mad cleverness to outwit the little creatures. Also, it takes tremendous emotional self-control.
After (*coughcough*) years of practice, I can tell you which, of all the techniques I teach and coach parents to use, is the hardest to actually implement effectively.
Ignoring undesirable (yet relatively harmless) behavior.
All the other things, the praising positive behavior, spending quality time, setting clear expectations and limits, having a consistent schedule, giving good directions, even time out and consequencing ... all pale in comparison to the job of ignoring a child who is doing or saying something annoying. [By the way, ignoring doesn't mean truly tuning out. It means not showing OUTward signs of attending. That's where the emotional self-control comes in.]
This week, I saw the adult equivalent of that in a writers' forum. It was an argument that just went on and on and on and on and on and omg I could keep typing but you get my point. I was lurking, as I am wont to do, and kept staring at the screen and whispering "Ignore them. Don't respond." But then ... more posts! More arguing! This was one of those throwdowns where people haul out the popcorn-eating emoticon.
Isn't he cute? Anyway. The argument didn't even have to happen--it wasn't a debate about two worthy ideas or anything like that. It got to be about semantics and little turns of phrase that had caused the other person to feel offended (though nothing truly offensive was said ... at least for awhile). I was really struck by how neither side could walk away. They were even telling each other to walk away, but no one seemed able to do it, even when it became apparent that neither side was going to come away looking good.
I am fascinated by that kind of thing. It was so important to have the last word. And this is what happens when you attend to a kid's undesirable behavior, like if you yell at him or whatever--it basically never works out. Sometimes it does, temporarily, but usually the kiddo will up the ante, because that kid is a human and we seem to have that need. I always tell parents--the second you step into the ring, you've lost. If I had been sitting next to any of the posters on that forum, I would have said the same thing (right before they called the police to remove the strange, bespectacled woman from their abode).
Have you ever been in a situation like this, where you just couldn't walk away? Did you regret it later? Have you ever been able to walk away from a person who was provoking you? Was it in person or online? If online, was it harder or easier than being in person? And how did you manage to shut down your desire to respond, to get the last word?
And it's the last Wednesday of the month, so it's Deb's turn to answer this month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question, which was about prologues. Lydia's answer can be found here.