|Friday, Apr. 04, 2003 || Natural Consequences|
Rob and I have been talking alot about "natural consequences".
There is a book I read a few years back called "Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours" by Dr. Kevin Leman. Basically, he advocates that in most cases we need to let natural consequences happen with our children (he calls it "Reality Discipline").
For example, if a child breaks another child's toy, they should replace the toy, using their own allowance money. In the adult world, they would have to replace the item, right? Seems simple, but I think as parents we often make the mistake of doing too much for our kids, fixing things, taking blame.
A few weeks ago, I accidentally threw away a paper our 9-year-old needed for weekly homework. I did not realize, until after the fact, that he needed this for future assignments. I wrote a note to the teacher and asked if he could have another, explaining that I had made the error.
At first, she said he could not. I was a bit miffed! Then I realized, had he followed directions, keeping it in his folder and telling us that it was not a "one-time" assignment, as she had directed the class, I would not have thrown it away. I realized that she was just allowing natural consequences to take effect.
We have a 20-year-old friend living with us. All his life, his mom did everything for him. She would nag and complain, but he would wait it out, and she would end up, in frustration, taking care of it. One Thursday, my husband, Rob, told him that he needed to have his clothes and bedding washed by the end of the weekend. His room reeked! He said okay. Friday night he decided to stay at a friend's. He let us know. My husband said, "Okay, but what I am afraid will happen is you will not take care of that laundry. If you don't, I will have to incorporate plan B."
Well, our "tenant" did not do his laundry. On Monday morning, I took all of the bedding we had loaned him and washed and stored it. Rob took his clothes to a laundry. Rob left him a note with the pick-up ticket letting him know where his laundry was (he would have to pay to get it) and that he would need to provide his own bedding since he was so careless with ours.
He was livid! He wanted to know why, if it bothered us so much we didn't wash it ourselves. Rob calmly told him that was not the point. Just because his mom always did, didn't make it our responsibility.
A few days later he thanked Rob for doing what he did. He is finally realizing he has to be responsible for himself.
In a nutshell: we don't do our children any favors when we nag them into doing something, do everything for them, or make excuses for them. I think if we will all be honest, we can admit that we all want to just handle things for them - it is easier that way. But only in the present. In reality, we are crippling them for the future.
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