For 24 Hours, I Let My Daughter Be In Charge

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In our house, saying “No” has never been a problem. I have a strong-minded and intelligent little girl. I learned to say “No” right away. It was pretty much a necessity. No, she cannot ride the dogs like a horse. No, she cannot climb the shelves. No, she cannot bake cookies all by herself. No, no, no, no, no. Anytime we have differences of opinion, the issue is solved by asking, “Who’s in charge?” My daughter gets a little grumpy, then she grudgingly says, “You’re in charge, Mom.” And Mom wins the argument. Yay!

It didn’t take my daughter long to learn that being in charge was pretty cool. She started to wonder when she would get a chance to take the reins. So we set up an incentive system, as we are wont to do. A full week of good behavior reports and lots of listening, and my daughter earned her chance to be in charge.

Before the fatal day arrived, my friends were nervous for me. “What if she wants to play in the street? Or make you eat mud?” But honestly, I wasn’t too concerned. First of all, my daughter loves her routine. She wants every day to be as predictable as possible. Second, I set up a couple safety guidelines. We couldn’t do anything that might hurt us or those around us. And most importantly, we decided that queens aren’t mean. We are benevolent leaders of our household. We make decisions, but we also think about the people around us. Maybe social responsibility is a little difficult for a toddler to understand, but I did my best.

So what happened when I let a three year old be in charge? Exactly what you would expect to happen. We ate pizza for breakfast. We played in her room for hours. She wore a Princess Jasmine costume to visit my parents. Then, she wore her Easter dress out for more pizza, this time at a restaurant. Oh, and she did her own hair with at least a dozen barrettes. Really, nothing in this day was surprising. We ate each meal, even if we did have a lot of pizza. We played a lot. We even napped. We danced and sang and spent more than half the day changing our clothes. But most importantly, we didn’t break anything. We didn’t boss anyone. We had a pretty enjoyable day.

And my daughter was on cloud nine. She felt empowered and important. She felt special. Her day in charge made me realize how fun it is to tell her, “Yes”. It took a little more time and energy to cater to my daughter’s whims instead of sticking to our normal routine. But every little bit was exciting and special for her. I definitely couldn’t do this everyday. But for just one, I was happy to let her decide what she wanted and then to give it to her.

 Sunday, we went back to normal. Mom got to call the shots and she had to listen. It was honestly one of the best incentives I’ve ever created. And for a day, I let a three year old be in charge of our house. And we came out alive. That’s a successful Saturday.

(Photo: Thinkstock)