Using Logical Consequences:
More than just serving time!
If there’s one thing that has really given me a run for my money as a mother so far, it’s discipline. Holy. Smokes. I had no idea what I was in for when that little (and I use that term loosely) 8lb 15oz bundle arrived nearly four years ago, and again when bundle #2 arrived nearly a year and a half ago.
You see, I thought, foolishly, having been a teacher, disciplining my own children would be a cakewalk. I had taken college classes on behavior management…I’d been trained in it…I’d studied it and written papers about it! I’d taught difficult kids, no doubt about it, and I’d not only lived to tell the tale, but did a pretty good job of it. In fact, and I now read this with irony in my voice, a principal once wrote in a reference letter for me that “…her classroom is well managed, and I’ve never once seen any of her students in my office for disciplinary reasons”. Oh, if he could see me now! <insert exasperated sigh here>
To say my four year old sometimes test the limits would be like saying sometimes your feet get sandy at the beach. I’ve found myself re-visiting my old textbooks and trying to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. I found this immensely easier to do as a teacher working with a student than as a mother working with my child, as it’s hard to take an objective look at your own child. I’m taking a step back from the situation and trying to be more teacher-like about matters of discipline.
What I’ve found really does work is what can be hard to do in the heat of the moment (you know, when your child, say, just accidently-on-purpose dumped out the lemonade you just poured him because he decided mid-pour he’d really rather have chocolate milk): Logical consequences.
I think my job as a parent/teacher/role model is to teach my children not only what they should do but why they should do it. In the previously mentioned “lemonade dump out” incident, the mom in me wanted to scream and shout and send him to his room while I cleaned it up, swearing that we’d never have lemonade again…EVER! He would then laugh, knowing this was baloney, and I’d get even more frustrated since now, he’s laughing. I know he should be doing the cleaning (the old teacher phrase is “Whomever does the work does the learning!”), but I needed a break from him, and he thinks cleaning is loads of fun anyway, so what’s the point, right?
Here’s where I’ve been doing wrong, and what I’m working on changing. What I should have done is thrown a dose of logical consequence his way: He cleans up the mess (the “fun” of that will wear off). I mention that the lemonade dumping has made an unnecessary mess, and I don’t want food and cleaning supplies wasted. His only beverage for the rest of the day will be water; if he can show me he knows how to use a cup without spilling then we can try other drinks again tomorrow.
It’s a new school year, and it’s a new start. Logical consequences are going to be flying around my house, no longer merely a highlighted phrase in my old textbooks. Time outs, shouting, and my exasperated sighs have proven themselves useless. I hope these boys are ready…because I am!