Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Odd Reward for Good Manners

Once upon a time, I gave Arlo a TUMS because he said his tummy hurt. Ever since then (and it's probably been 6 months), he has been obsessed with TUMS. At first, he used the tactic of claiming that he had a tummy ache as a ploy to get more TUMS. Pretty quickly, though, I figured out that when Arlo says, "My tummy hurts," he really means, "I want a piece of candy."

Still, I confess, I didn't see the harm in giving Arlo a TUMS. I mean, loads of people chew them every day as a calcium supplement--and Lord knows that I eat them like they're going out of style, now that I have entered the Heartburn Trimester of my pregnancy. And it's better than candy, right?

However. Faking illness to get a treat is not a habit I wish to promote in my son, so I explained to him that he should not tell Mommy that his tummy hurts unless it really does hurt. If he wants a TUMS, I explained, he should just ask for one.

I know. Y'all are probably aghast that I give my child over-the-counter antacid as a treat. Please, at least forgive the tastelessness of it by recognizing that I have cleared its safety with Arlo's doctor and with our friendly Walgreens pharmacist.

Also, I must tell you that TUMS is a very reliable form of currency in my household. Much like chewable vitamins (and really, it's not much different in substance either), they can be used to coax Arlo out of the bath tub on a stubborn evening, or it can put him in a chipper mood before breakfast, when he and Mom are both rather grumpy some days.

And you would not believe how good he has gotten at asking nicely.

The TUMS first helped him learn to say "please" reliably when he's making a request. Now I've taken it a step further.

Arlo will say to me, "I want a TUMS."

to which I reply, "Well, Arlo, how do you ask nicely for a TUMS?"

and now, instead of just saying, "Pleeeeeeeease," as was the first level of politeness training, he says, "Please may I have a TUMS?"

It's brilliant. And I never have to worry that Arlo might be calcium deficient.


Cindy said...

This is an awesome post....Jack will tell me his stomach hurts or he has a cough just to get a chewable vitamin. I tell him over and over you don't have to be sick to get a vitamin, it's a way for you to stay strong. He prefers to fake a cough, and I oblige!!!

At this point,the tums are ALL mine, I take four every night before bed to cope survive!

map said...

When Ava complains about a tummy ache, we figure she just has to take a dump. Often turns out to be the case. Go figure.