As I watched Jessi close the garage door while tossing something in her mouth, I ran through the scenario, hoping I could navigate past the anger I was feeling and not screw this up. I stood silently as she entered the house and waited for her to realize what I’d seen. Her body language, stiff back with the apathetic expression, told me she was ready for the usual battle.
“What were you doing in the garage?” Mistake #1: Never ask a RADish “what were”, because you won’t get a straight answer and it’s a waste of your time and theirs. They wait for you to answer your own question, because they want to use YOUR brain. I get silence and that RADish cold stare. So, I move on to mistake #2 and ask what was in her mouth.
“Gum”, she says stoically. “Dad said I can have some.” I question whether he gave her permission to enter the garage when he’s not home and take the gum whenever she pleases. “Yes, he did.” So, I repeat my question and her shoulders drop inward as she quietly whispered, “No”.
I stood still as I clicked through the new strategy I’d read the day before and shifted from anger, which was what she wanted to see from me, and started celebrating. “Woo hoo! Oh yeah! Uh huh!” I shouted while dancing across the kitchen to grab an orange (nice, bright color) dry erase marker. Matt didn’t know why I was shouting, but he liked the idea and joined me. As I drew a cupcake on the board, Allen joined us and happily thanked Jess for giving us our first point.
“Sweet, Jess! Now we only need 9 more to get our cupcakes! Thank you for lying! We got our first point!” We all danced and I added a thick, purposefully large “1″. Jessi was in shock. She literally froze in her spot, unsure of what just happened. She certainly wasn’t getting the reaction she wanted AND her lying was giving us something WE wanted. It was BEAUTIFUL.
Last summer, we dealt with targeted tormenting and found hope in Ten Weird Things that Help RAD Kids Get Healthy. This summer, we (as in me, Michael, Allen and Emma) learned this handy little strategy of earning points for lying from 99 Ways to Drive Your Child Sane. Word of caution: DO NOT USE THIS WITH MENTALLY HEALTHY CHILDREN. Having 3 other people in the home helping me implement this technique has been helpful, because when you’re the sole disciplinarian, it’s exhausting. With a cupcake reward, I have THREE other brains actively luring Jess into situations where she’d normally deny involvement. It is BEAUTIFUL.
I am happy to report that in 2 weeks, we have earned just the one point. Our RADish is on top of her game and not interested in seeing us eat cupcakes without her. She’s realized that lying isn’t worth her energy when we whoop it up and dance rather than get angry. That feeling of whooping and dancing? It is BEAUTIFUL!
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