Parenting is hard.
Often times I think we end up making it harder than it has to be.
We over think things, trying to come up with big solutions to the problems we encounter every day.
We try so hard to change our child’s behavior that we are blinded by the reality that we cannot change them! It is impossible! The more we try to do that, the more frustrated we become.
Instead of trying to change your child’s behavior with nagging, lecturing or punishing – try using the ‘magic tool’ parents so often forget they even have. It is the amazing ability to share with your child the real life experience of dealing with the “consequences of their choices.”
Every choice has a consequence and the sooner your child learns this, the better things are for them, for you and those they encounter around them.
I have had an extra opportunity lately to adhere to my own advice of allowing consequences to ‘teach’ my child.
Instead of allowing myself to get caught up in my child’s resistance to do something, I can instead pull out a consequence to their choice and place it into the equation.
It is rather freeing – at least for me!
I can simply remove myself from feeling like I have something to do with my child’s decision to ‘buck’ the system.
So this week when my child decided completely out of the blue that he did not want to eat breakfast before school, I let him make that decision and also deal with the consequences. Instead of lecturing to him about it being MSP testing and that his teacher told everyone to eat a good breakfast with protein, or explaining to him he would be hungry long before lunch, or begging him to just eat a little something, I just said, “OK,” and didn’t allow a power struggle to emerge.
I wasn’t sure how to handle this complete disregard to what he needed to do in the morning, but wasn’t quite sure what to do. I let it go, until the next morning when he refused to eat breakfast again.
Now I knew, he was hunkering down for battle! Trying to make some point but honestly I wasn’t interested in going into battle – what mom does?
I had time to think while he was away at school that day and decided that there would be no afterschool snack or after dinner dessert for him. He had made the choice to not eat breakfast, which of course is his choice to do, but the consequence of that choice meant that he would be unable to enjoy the yummy “cheez’it” crackers he so loves afterschool.
Instead, he could certainly enjoy anything in the fruit bowl or any veggies he found in the refrigerator.
Let me tell you, the look on his face when he asked for his snack that afternoon was priceless! He asked for his normal snack and I broke into my two line answer, letting him know that since he chose to not eat breakfast there wouldn’t be the normal snacks that day, but he could certainly eat as much from the fruit bowl or veggies he could find.
He was dumbfounded.
He asked why, and I gave a simple answer explaining it again to him in simple, clear language. He asked why again and I simply told him I was done discussing it then, but would be happy to discuss it further after dinner.
He never came back to the discussion.
Can I just say that this morning, he got up and ate a great breakfast! I am assuming he didn’t really like what happened when he made the choice to not eat breakfast. Lecturing didn’t make him change his mind, me trying to control it or him didn’t change his mind, it was his own thinking and experiencing a consequence of his choice that ultimately led him to make a better choice this morning.
Isn’t that how we want it to go as parents? For our kids to grow and gain the ability to make good decisions?
Consequences will help you and your child get there, just allow them to come into play. It makes your job as a parent so much easier!
What consequence at your house has been a game changer for your child lately?