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Dress for Success

Sometimes the solution to a major problem is right in front of you, if only you can see it.

Matt and I have struggled with getting Simon into his clothes and pajamas for months now, and in the last few weeks our struggle escalated to full-blown battle. Simon would make a big game out of it and kick and thrash and roll over on the bed, we would struggle to get him to lie still and to cooperate, and by the end of the twice-daily wrestling match, we’d all be significantly crabbier then when we started.

It was a lose-lose situation.

We consulted books about power struggles. We talked to friends about discipline in similar situations. And we talked to Simon. A lot! But he kept on making a big joke out of it until we’d have to manhandle him, at which point we’d hear a lot of “No, don’t do that” or “Stop hurting me.”

Finally, Sunday, we hit a breakthrough. In part, it came from deciding to implement time-outs early and often, beginning the minute Simon started to struggle and ending when we finally had him fully dressed. I think Sunday morning we put Simon in time-out twice before he got fully dressed.

When it came time to get into pajamas at the end of the day, Simon knew we meant business. Still, there was tension in the air, and I sensed that he was going to test me. That’s when I got an idea and asked him if he’d like to undress himself.

Would he ever!

With help, he took of his shirt and pants and then did a pretty good job of getting his pj top over his head (no small task with his head, I assure you.) The pants went up in a jiffy, we cheered him on at each step, and at the end Simon wore a triumphant smile. He was so proud of himself he could hardly contain it. We were very proud of him, too, and happy to see that he wanted to take charge of this part of his life.

But most of all, we felt a bit stupid. OF COURSE he wanted to dress himself. He’s of the age when he should want to and be able to with help. We’ve been calling him “Mr. Independent” for months now. Yet somehow in the hustle bustle of daily life, we lost sight of this and yanked and schlepped as we have since the day we brought him home from the hospital.

For the last two mornings, Simon excitedly took off his own pajamas and went far towards dressing himself, again without struggle, again with visible pride on his face. At night, he’s taking off his clothes and putting on his pajamas. So I’m thinking this is no fluke, and that a battle of many months is coming to end through the granting of limited self-rule to the rebelling party.

One Response to “Dress for Success”

  1. blg says:

    Clearly one of those “duhh” moments.

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