Lately A has been a bit obsessive about asking how she's been doing throughout the day and how I think the day has gone. Has it been a good day? Have she and Bug done a good job?
It took me a while to catch on, but I finally realized that she's worried about getting in trouble.
Her primary concern is that I'll give The Hubby a negative report about her behavior when he gets home from work. Of course, I think she also wants to stay in my good graces and stay out of trouble.
No kid likes being in trouble (at least they don't start out enjoying it... some do seem to seek it out, but it's usually because that's the only way they know to get the attention they crave). As with many things for A, she's just beyond the range of what's considered "normal" for kids. She's becoming obsessed with it because she can't stand the suspense of not knowing the answers to the questions that constantly run through her head: "Will I get in trouble? Will Daddy be upset with me? Will Mommy have to talk to me?"
"Has it been a good day?" is a hard question for me to answer. Most of our days have ups and downs. Some days I really have to search for the ups while other days they're really obvious, but I refuse to leave her with the impression that she's a bad kid, or that she's the reason it's been a bad day.
Her behavior definitely affects how I feel about the day. Some days I can handle her meltdowns. Other days something that was big to her, was just barely a blip on my radar. And, yet, other days I can't rebound because I feel too bogged down from helping her through her behaviors, staying caught up on my own emotional stuff, and keeping the house running.
So how do I handle this?
Thankfully I have a wonderful bestie to bounce ideas off of.
I now keep a dry-erase board with two columns. On one side is a smiley face, and the other is a sad face. I make sure to have at least one positive thing from our day on the board at the end of the day. Now when she asks me how the day has been, I can show her the board and she can decide for herself. My hope is that she'll focus on the positives (which I can reinforce by talking them up) and be encouraged to repeat them in the future.
I also love the fact that at the end of the day we erase the board. That's primarily her job, but sometimes we forget and I do it. How symbolic and meaningful is it for her to wipe away her "transgressions" (to her that's how major they feel)?
The Hubby saw the board and asked what it was all about, so I explained it to him. Later that evening I gave A the board to erase and The Hubby asked if we were going to sit down and talk about the things that were on it.
I just smiled at A and said "nope. We don't need to talk about it. It's just so A can decide how the day has gone."
The other day she asked me how I thought the day was going (mind you she almost always asks after she's been acting out). I directed her to the board. At first she refused and was adamant that I tell her what I thought about the day. I gave her the same set answer "you can go look and decide how the day has gone" and after a few times of hearing that, she did go look.
I could tell she felt better!