Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ask Crabmommy, Part One: The Listening Chart

Because I am inundated by your requests for my advice, I thought I would start this new regular thing called Ask Crabmommy. If you have a question, feel free to continue to email me constantly at witchycrab at yahoo dot com.

Here's a good one to inaugurate the column:

Dear Crabmom,
My daughter just won't listen. I try to do Time Outs and all that Sears/ Modern Parenting crap but I still end up walloping the tot and then I feel so bad. We all know spanking is wrong and that it doesn't really work. Can you help?
Still Slappin'

Hi, Still Slappin'. Obviously you haven't been reading my blog very long or else you'd have seen that I, too, occasionally Slap 'Em To Sleep® . Or when awake. But sigh...like you, it does induce feelings of guilt in me. And as you mentioned, it plum doesn't work in terms of behavior modification. Here's another route that I like to call The Listening Chart®. Thought up by none other than C-mom. (Let's keep the credit where it's due. Right here. Meaning I need for you to put a little ® somewhere on your Listening Chart®, kay? Thanks!)

Right. Here goes. The Listening Chart®.


1. Go to Dollar Store if you are a cheapmom, or Staples will also do.
2. Buy 1 piece of posterboard, preferably in orange if that is the color with which your tot is obsessed. (And you can read all about that on my Cookieblog today.)
4. Get out of my list, whoever you are. I am trying to write serious advice here.
5. Purchase giant roll of Motivational Stickers from Dollar Store (gold and silver stars will also work, as will sundry other stickers, or if that doesn't thrill your wee one, Singorillo Bandaids are fine. Whatever floats her boat).
6. Come home. Have a G&T or a fudge cake or something as a treat to gear up for such an audaciously dull activity as what follows.
7. Get a ruler, a Sharpie and make Mon-Sun columns down your chart.
8. Why is your Sunday column so teeny? You can't measure, you loser. Turn the poster over and start again.
9. Oh, sorry. I mean, before the columns, give your chart a catchy title: Taylor's Listening Chart or Lulu-Belle's I'm a Good Girl Chart. (And you, know if you use my LC term, please do me the respect of giving it the little ® we discussed earlier.)
10. This is the hard bit. Try to categorize the things she repeatedly disobeys you on. This is hard, right? I mean the tyke bloody never listens. So now I am expected to chart this stuff? Seriously, narrow it down or you'll be here all night and there will be no room for stickers.
11. So you have, say, 5 things each day that little Robitussin or Chantaglia does that really tweak your vibe. It's the refusal to clean teeth. It's the not wanting to wash face. It's the no quiet time. It's the smoking crack in the house.
12. Now come up with little pictographs for the chart to indicate these things, so you can show young Amaranthia the little toothbrush and say, "When I say,'brush your teeth' and you listen, you get a listening sticker right here."

You get the rest. When tiny impish Shampiqua sees that Listening means a Listening Sticker on the Listening Chart she will get very, very excited. She will listen her heart out. She will be such a very good listener. And you will stop smacking. And everyone will be hugging and sticking stickers and listening 'til their ears fall off.

For exactly one day.

And then, it will all go up in a puff of smoke, my friend. The motivational stickers will lose their sticky allure and young Harlequina will tell you that word you haven't heard for 24 hours. That two-letter word. NO. No to the clever Crabmom's Listening Chart. No to the teeth-cleaning, the cleanup of toys, the not scribbling with orange marker on the door.

She will say no.

And you will smack her.

And the Listening Chart, it will go the way of all things in this life.

LC, R.I.P.

Seriously, I tried my best, people. But after working so hard on the LC and hearing all those NOs today a mere day after finding the stupid motivational stickers that I had to search so hard for in the godforsaken dollar store (cuz stickers are of course sandwiched between fliplops from Thailand and bulk barrels of dishsoap)...after all that, I just lost it. I smacked. It hurt. She cried. I felt good. I felt bad. And so tomorrow, we try again the path of non-violence and hope that this time something will stick. But not stickers. They don't work in this house.

Okay. So I hope that helps you, um, Still Slappin' Mommy. Always glad to be of service! Please everyone, do email me pronto with more questions! Love to give of my wisdom!


Anonymous said...

Purple is the color of evil! I totally agree with you! Sorry for posting here but I didn't really want to register over at Cookie just to agree that PURPLE IS EVIL!!!!

Also, never ever trust someone whose favorite color is purple.

Anonymous said...

hm, my children like to be independent. We use the "if you can't listen and do it yourself, then Mommy will do it for you"; and mommy never does it the nice way.

Love your use of names though :)!

info@thebabymarketplace.com said...

I gave up spanking for flicking many, many moons ago! It's less guilt inducing, hurts a little and gets the attention of wee brats!

How to flick: hold thumb and index finger in the "OK" positition. Flick out index finger quickly. Works great on upper arm for most kids, for teenagers you might want to try the temple area (this actually hurts but usually the stuff they are getting flicked for hurts mommyknows more).

I'm kind of kidding ... don't call social services!

Crabmommy said...

Never trust someone whose favorite color is purple -- quite right, Daisymom. See. I knew I was being objective here and so glad to have my instincts corroborated on this one.

Apples, I wish my Tot liked to be independent. Alas, that concept has somewhat passed her by. She prefers the line, "Mommy, YOU do it."

MK, the flicking! I love it. Love the Flicking. Trying it forthwith.

JT said...

That was a laugh riot on a day I really needed it! Thanks!!!

My kids were full-on brats this morning and I'm hoarse from screaming!

I'll try the listening chart. I know that it'll appeal to my daughter initially and then loose it's luster. I'm not even sure if my son will get it.

Thanks again for the laugh.