We have time for lots of craziness!
Kids do things they are not supposed to. It is inevitable. Children are independent humans with a mind and will of their own. How parents handle these issues is not really a concern of mine. There are a several different strategies for teaching children to obey and handling disobedience, but I thought I’d share what we do AFTER handling issues.
Simply put, we just give them another opportunity to obey. We start over.
Let’s say we told my daughter that she should go into her room and play. Instead of going on her merry way, she complains and whines. Even if she is still on her way to her room, we handle her attitude and then start over. We tell her exactly (or close:) to what we told her before and give her a chance to respond appropriately.
If my son were to snatch or yank a toy from his sister we would address his actions and then set up the situation again. We would give his sister the toy and have him ask nicely.
Its like a reset button.
My husband and I feel like this helps the children to handle any guilt, shame or bad feelings of doing something they are not supposed to. Whenever my husband and I have to address behavior, after we handle it, it is forgiven and is as if nothing ever happened. Giving the children a chance to try again helps them see that in us. When we start over, we are calm, and use the same tone of voice and body language as we did before.
Sometimes we have to ‘reset’ several times before we get the right response, but it always ends well. The child has reconciled his or her actions and our relationship with the child is also strengthened. By helping him or her make things right, they never have to go away feeling guilty, embarrassed, angry, upset, or feeling like they got away with something. All of which could interfere with our relationship, even if for a short time.
In the instance of my daughter whining about going to her room to play, allowing her to change her attitude and try again, frees her to go in her room and enjoy it. If we would have told her to have a better attitude and that was all, she would continue to sulk and would not be able to enjoy her room right away.
This is just a routine thing in our home, and we don’t give it much thought, but one day my daughter did something she was not supposed to and I addressed it and kept working on dinner. I do not remember what it was since it was several months ago, but she was a little distraught when I did not give her a chance to reconcile and asked rather politely, “Aren’t you going to let me try again?”
“Yes, of course,” Was my happy response, I remember that much.
Being able to reset is also like practicing obedience. We have been able to break many habits by just having the children say or do the right thing. For instance, my son is almost broken of answering questions with, “yeah.” We prefer him to say, “Yes,” “Yes, Mommy,” or “Yes, sir,” anything really that is more respectful. (although I heard recently that this is only a concern in the South, so if you think I’m crazy, I’ll admit that I do call my son, “sir” and my daughter, “ma’am,” so the expectation is hardly one sided! :)
When JJ answers, “yeah,” we don’t say anything that would make him feel bad we just politely say, “Yes, Mommy,” or whatever it was he should have said. He usually repeats it excitedly, and we continue on with the conversation or activity.
We do the same with “I want” sentences and questions that are not asked politely. The practice has been worlds of help. In many situations we do not even have to address wrongdoing, we just help them correct it.
When it comes to parenting, I don’t want what is easiest for them or me. I want what is best, and that is not always what is easiest, but I believe this habit definitely makes life easier both in the short and long term. I have expressed this sentiment in several posts, but one of the most important things in the world to me is letting my children know that they can do anything. Allowing them a chance to reconcile their behavior shows them that they can obey; they can do what is best. It shows them that doing what is nice is a wonderful feeling. Practicing obedience shows them that their parents have full confidence in their ability to do what is right and that we are behind them, helping them and guiding them.