Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Suck it up!

So for a while now Jonah has been afraid of the vacuum cleaner. Eli could care less... sometimes the vacuum actually puts him to sleep! I have been telling Jonah that the vacuum is "not scary, just noisy" for a while, but it hasn't seemed to help. Every time I would open the vacuum closet he would wimper and head for the hills (and by the hills I mean the couch because the vacuum can't get you there!).

I couldn't figure out what to do to make him get over this fear. I felt like I'd tried everything. Then my brain finally kicked in gear and yesterday we made some progress as I applied my psychology background to the situation.

In the psychology word what I did was called systematic desensitization. I needed to get Jonah to see that he could be on the floor while the vacuum was running and even touch it and nothing bad would happen.

So I plugged the vacuum in and turned it on. I know that Jonah finds holding my hand comforting, so I had him hold my hand while I pushed the vacuum with the other. He was nervous, but I kept telling him "See... mommy pushes the vacuum and then pulls it back" over and over.

Pretty soon he thought this might actually be fun and when we got to his room he said "Jonah do it". So I let him touch the handle and help me push it. He didn't do it for very long, but I was stunned that it was that easy. Then when I vacuumed my bedroom I got a piece of paper and tore some little bits off and showed him how the vacuum cleaned the floor. This was like magic for him, and before long he was running around pointing out bits of paper for me to vacuum up.

I guess before this I always just figured that he would "get over it" and just needed to "suck it up" (haha). But what he really needed was a little bit of help. Now he understands what the vacuum is for and that it really is "not scary, just noisy".

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