should i open a therapy account for the kids now?

After Ocean gets disciplined for something, we always 'hug it out' so he knows he's forgiven and things resume as normal. But lately he's been asking me if I'm happy after he comes out of time-out, as if somehow I can only be happy once his transgression has been atoned for. Ugh! How do I deal with this? I want to explain to him that my happiness doesn't depend on his behavior but that's a hard thing to explain to a 2 1/2 year old. Usually we have a weird conversation that goes something like this:

O: Are you happy Mommy?
Me: Ocean, mommy can be happy and frustrated at the same time. Just like mommy can be angry with something you do but still love you.
O: And dinosaurs. Right?

I could say, "Yes, I'm happy," but would that reinforce his idea of conditional love and place a burden on him to people-please? I also want him to believe that I know best (most of the time. Okay, some of the time.), to trust what I say and to be obedient. So maybe letting him know that it does make me proud when he listens and does what I ask isn't such a bad thing.

This morning, after a brief lecture on staying in his seat at the table, he asked, "Are you happy Mommy?" I took the less philosophical way out this time and just answered, "Yes, Ocean, I'm happy." "Good, Mommy," he replied. "You're my sweetheart."


Jenny said...

I'm 2 years ahead with Dory... and still have no answer for you.

But it's good to be a sweetheart. ;)

Becky said...

That is so sweet. We are kind of in the same place. Hank is 2 and a half, and we started trying the time out thing. Only for major infractions. Now if I correct him, or even mildly admonish him, he'll ask if he's going to time out. Or he'll say, "Am I in trouble?" It kills me and makes me feel like Mommy Dearest.

tiffany said...

i don't have my own kids, but i have a literal crap-ton of nieces and nephews, and WAY younger siblings, and so my advice is this: 1) if he's asking you if you're happy, you've done something right 2) explain that you're ALWAYS happy because you get to be his mom, but he could help you be EVEN HAPPIER by doing what you say. it seems to me that "happy" is such a weighty word.
but, you have a smart kid. as long as he wants you to be "his sweetheart," you hold the keys to the kingdom. good luck with that. xoxoxo.

Cassie said...

Jenny, it IS good to be a sweetheart. Especially HIS sweetheart. (And when in the world did Dory get to be a 4 year old?! Holy moly...)

Becky, I'm right there with ya. Once Ocean dumped water on the floor just as a sort of science experiment I think. I said something to the effect of, "What do we need to do if we make a mess?" and he said, "Go to time-out." I was aghast! I just expected him to say, "Clean it up." He must think I'm awful.

Tiffany... will you be my therapist? How much do you charge? (Seriously, this is awesome advice! Thanks!)

Alysa said...

I am right there with you except that Joe isn't quite understanding the discipline thing yet at 20 months. Jeff says "Joe, do you want to go to timeout?" and Joe says "Yeah." Haha :) I think the most important thing we are doing right now it trying to stay consistent no matter what. It is hard though!

Phil said...

I hate when Cassie sends me to timeout.