Do we not all hate to discipline our children? As for me, I would so much rather be their friend, but there comes a time when it is a necessary (I won't way evil, because it's not) part of life.
In my 19 years as a mom, I have learned something. Depending on the way you punish your children, they can either hate you for it and focus their negative energy on you and "how could you be so mean?" or they can focus their energy on themselves and how they messed up and how they need to improve. I have found that by using natural consequences as often as we can, we are able to teach our children without unduly harming the relationship we have with each other. Of course there are times that we have to implement grounding or extra chores, but as often as possible, we like to let nature takes it's course. An example of this would be if my son didn't do his chores before his ride came to pick him up for school in the morning, that he would have to miss his ride, finish his chores, walk to school (it's only a mile away) and endure an unexcused tardy. These types of consequences can be implemented using a calm voice and the children are left to only be dissappointed with themselves for failing to fulfill their responsibilities.
I would like to share a recent example of natural consequences that unfolded PERFECTLY.
...left her school glue out on the sofa table right next to my rocking chair in the living room. I saw it there, and felt my pulse quicken slightly in anger over the fact that she had so carelessly left it right after I had cleaned up. But then I slowed down and thought what I could do. Why was I so upset that it had been left it out? I realized the main reason it was bothering me was because if I didn't do something about it, this person (middle)...
...would get into it. My options where that I would have to put it away myself or go and find her and ask her to put it away. But what if, just what if, I left it out and let the natural consequences play out? Worst case scenario, the toddler opens it and pours it all over the place and perhaps even tastes it. It says it's non-toxic right on the bottle, so no harm there. (Just kidding. I would not really let my toddler consume glue just to teach the teenage girl a lesson. Not too much glue, anyway.)
So I sat...and I waited...and who should come along but the toddler. And what should he do but open up the bottle of glue and pour it all over the table. I watched with detached interest to see what would happen next. Nothing. The toddler got bored, asked me to wash his hands, and left the glue tipped over on it's side where he had found it. And so it hardened...on the sofa table, which is metal and rusted and rustic, by the way, so no harm done really.
Enter...the 12-year-old boy. He walked by, saw the mess and said out loud, "Kyla left her glue out and Johnny got it all over the table! KYLA! JOHNNY GOT YOUR GLUE ALL OVER THE TABLE! COME AND CLEAN IT UP!"
Enter...Kyla...With an extremely distraught look on her face. She looked at the mess, then looked at her mother, who had decided to turn her back on the whole thing and continue with the dinner preparation. She touched the mess, and stared at it some more, then looked at Johnny, then at the mess again. It was beautiful.
"Um, Mom?" she said. "Do you know how to get glue off tables?"
"No I don't," I said. "Why? Do you need to get glue off a table?"
She told me what had happened and sheepishly admitted that she didn't know what to do. I suggested she look it up on the internet. You can find anything on the internet, you know. She did find out how to remove dried-on school glue off a surface, spend a long time cleaning her mess and I never had to get involved in doling out a punishment. It was awesome!
Did she learn to never leave her things out again? Of course not, but I figure with about 300 more teaching moments like that, she will have it down pat!
How do you discipline your kids? I would really like to know. Leave me a comment and tell me what you do!
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