When Rachel is having a hard time being a "happy girl," which usually entails her throwing herself on the floor and screaming, we tell her she has two choices. A) She can stop or B) she can go to her room until she's ready to be a happy girl because no one really wants to listen to her scream.
Sometimes she'll stop immediately, other times she'll stomp off to her room, screaming the whole way, taking itty-bitty steps in order to punish us as long as possible. Then she sits down in time out and screams and kicks her legs until she's ready to apologize.
Sometimes it only takes a minute or two. She'll go to her room, sit down, take a few deep breaths and then knock on her door and say, "Happy girl now!" When I open the door she'll say, "I sorry, mommy!" and give me a big hug and then we'll discuss what she's sorry for.
Other times she screams for a whole lot longer than we'd like and we have to go in to ask if she's ready to be a happy girl. And then the whole thing starts over again. Maybe she'll stop. Maybe she'll scream more and then stop. Maybe she'll just crawl into bed, fall asleep, and wake up a whole new girl.
When she does wake up, chances are she'll come out of her room saying that she's a "happy girl." She often informs us of her emotions, usually pleading desperately that she's happy, even when she's not.
I sent her to time out one day because she wasn't listening. She hadn't thrown herself on the floor in a fit or anything, but I had told her not to do something and she went ahead and did it, anyway, right in front of my eyes, like two seconds later. When I told her to go to her room is when the fit started.
She started her quick-paced, small-stepped stomp to her room screaming, "HAPPY GIRL! HAPPY GIRL! HAPPY! GIIIIIIIRL!"
"I don't believe you because you're screaming. Besides, Mommy is not a happy girl because you didn't listen and that makes Mommy sad. You need to go to your room and think about that."
I helped her speed up the procession to her room, ignoring her pleas of "happy girl!" the whole way.
Other times when she tells us she's a happy girl, she really is a happy girl. Like first thing in the morning, she'll crash into our bed and declare, "Happy girl!" I think that means something like, "Is it morning yet? Because I, for one, am ready to be awake."
Since she doesn't go to bed until 9 or 9:30, we don't really like her to wake up at 6:00 in the morning. A few days ago she did, and we tried putting her back to bed so we could sleep for another hour or so. 15 minutes later she ran back into our bedroom.
"Happy girl now," she sniffed and put on her biggest grin so that I would be sure to agree with her.
She had mistaken being put back to bed as being put in her room for a timeout (which is kind of odd considering we don't use her bed as the timeout spot).
Now I know that when she wakes up a "happy girl" it means she's serious about being awake. When she stumbles into my room in a grumpy stupor it's pretty safe to put her back to bed.
One night she woke up at 11:00 PM. Andrew and I had already gone to bed. The house was completely dark and I was just about asleep when I heard her door creak open. She padded through the dark to our bed and slammed into it without saying a word. I picked her up.
"Snack!" she demanded.
She wanted breakfast. I told her it wasn't time for breakfast since it was still night time, as if the fact that the whole house was pitch black and everyone was still in bed shouldn't have clued her in to that fact.
"Motion!" she said next.
I let her rub some lotion into her cheeks. Then I suggested she go back to sleep. She started screaming her objections. Andrew carried her back to her room and put her to bed. The minute her head touched her pillow she was out. She woke up late the next morning a "happy girl."
Boy, do I love my happy girl!