Resist the cuteness!

by Jennifer Dyer

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My daughter Rachel is cute! I think she has figured that out and uses it to her advantage. Because of her apraxia speech issues and autism, I fear I often underestimate her or feel sorry for her and give into her desires.

The other day I was trying to brush her hair, and we wound up in the usual triathelon of craziness: over and around furniture, Up and down the stairs, over the dog, and hand-to-hand combat. While it keeps me in shape, it does get tiring. Rachel’s ABA therapist was here, and she put down her therapist foot. “You have to resist her cuteness and stop giving into her. You allow this to be a game. When you tell her something mean it.”

I wanted to play innocent. “Who, me?”

Therapist wasn’t falling for my innocent wide eyes. “You have to stop thinking of her like a little girl. She’s a big girl. Stop doing everything for her and make her be responsible. Just because she has a difficult time talking and communicating doesn’t mean she isn’t aware of everything going on around her. I cannot stress to you enough how smart Rachel is. She knows she is cute and uses it.”

But…Cuteness “Wrong Wrong”

Gulp. I felt as though caught doing something naughty, but it’s nice to have someone advocate for Rachel and believe in her intelligence and potential.

She also told me to beware using that sweet little voice I often adopt when I talk to Rachel. She said to talk to Rach like I would any other eight-year-old. Otherwise people might not treat her with as much dignity.

She had a point. “Okay.” I wondered how I got stuck in thinking of Rachel as a little one. With eldest I made a natural procession from little kid to big kid. Perhaps she demanded it. Perhaps her verbal skills required more adult conversation. All I know is that I must be more mindful… It’s good to have people like Rachel’s therapist to help nudge me along.

So, I must resist when Rachel resists me with that adorable little smile on her face.

Dot’s I’m Cute song

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4 thoughts on “Resist the cuteness!

  1. Brenda is right. Tough love here, daughter. I agree with Brenda. I also believe you are stronger than you show. When the rubber hits the road you get up and do what has to be done. Persevere dear daughter. We love you.

  2. Resist the Cuteness! That reminded me of a lesson i probably didn’t learn until daughter #3, but I’ve tried to share ever since. Little girls are so cute!(boys are adorable). The twirly skirt, the shiny shoes, the bubbly laugh and sparkling eyes- “you’re so cute!”, “look at you!”, “let’s send gma & gpa a picture of how pretty you are!”. Pretty soon you have a smiling, twirling monster princess who knows it’s all about how you look and how charmingly you act… NOT! Compliment the action, not the actor; the child, not the princess. It’s the same confirmation of the child, just about what really counts- the inner them, not the outer princess/jock/brainiac. We all know to think before we speak, it’s doubly important when we’re confirming what is special about our children! Good luck- it can be done! Resist the dimples, especially!!

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