Parenting Tip: The Special Glove

I’m convinced more than half of successful parenting is the ability to improvise well. To think on your toes and come up with answers to questions you didn’t even know existed before they were plopped in front of you with a short time limit to solve. For better or worse, it’s a learning process where there are no take backs, and you’re stuck with whatever choice you make.

I’d like to think I’ve improvised pretty well so far, though sometimes you don’t even know if you made the right choice until years later, it seems.

Back when TRC was a tyke, Denisa and I wanted to get him off sucking his fingers. Bad for the teeth and all that jazz. We tried some of the approaches we’d heard about: painting his fingers with nasty-tasting crud that was supposed to make sucking on them intolerable. It didn’t work at all. We tried to convince him with logic that he ought to give up the habit, mainly because we hadn’t yet learned that logic doesn’t work with two year olds. I can’t remember what other approaches we’d made, but I do remember being frustrated.

Nothing was working.

And that’s when it hit us: the solution was the Special Glove.

I can’t remember if it was something I came up with or an idea Denisa had. I don’t know if we read about it or if the idea just popped up ex nihilo. But however we came across the idea, it was fairly simple: it’s hard to suck your fingers through a sock.

Of course, it took some refining to get the details down. TRC kept taking the sock off, for one thing, so we had to safety pin it to his sleeves. Deprived of his right hand, he switched to his left, so we had to add a second Special Glove. (We called it “Special Glove” because what two year old doesn’t want to wear something special at night?) But once we had it all down, it actually went off without a hitch.

TRC only needed the Special Gloves for a month or so, and then he didn’t really care much about finger sucking anymore.

I relate this to you because we’re on our third child now, and it’s the third time we’ve brought out that bit of improvisation. TRC and DC both remember their times in the Special Gloves, and MC took to them with no difficulty at all. (Sure, she was sad for a bit, and more than a little skeptical that there was anything “special” about these gloves at all. But the nice thing about experience is that you can say things as fact instead of as questions. They come across stronger when you know the ideas are going to work.)

It’s cute seeing her gloved up and ready for sleep each night.

Anyway. If any of you out there are looking for an easy way to stop certain habits, see if you can’t come up with a Special Glove of one kind or another. I’m considering offering the idea up to rehab clinics across the globe. Best of luck!

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