One thing is for sure I am consistent.
If I say I am going to do something- I will so it. Okay that's a lie... I just thought about all the failed workout programs and diets I say I'll stick with... BUT when pertaining to consequences that I give my kids....let me tell you- if I say it- I do it.
One thing that has made following through easier are three simple secrets that I think that every parent should know about fighting battles.
#1 Avoid threatening your child with things you KNOW you won't follow through with.
If you aren't really willing to take something away- DON'T YOU DARE SAY IT. I can't tell you how many times I have regretted saying something and knowing I would have to follow through with what I said. I once overheard a mother say to her daughter, "If you don't behave we are canceling the trip to Disney Land!" Really? Do you think she would really cancel plane tickets, hotel rooms and the chance to take her family to the happiest place on earth? Don't say it! Plus how in the world do you measure "BEHAVE?" That is way to vague. Which brings me to #2.
#2 Use very clear and specific language that empowers the child to CHOOSE.
If you set CLEAR expectations on what the child is to do and what will happen if they do or don't follow through- chances are they will finally figure out that listening gets them what they want. Plus they learn to think and choose for themselves. It places responsibility on them and not you.
Let me give you perfect example...it happened yesterday. I was just about to put Baby Bean to sleep when Little Man burst into the room when he was supposed to be getting ready for a popsicle break before nap. Let me say that he knows I enjoy feeding and putting Little Bean to sleep alone in peace. It's my moment to be alone with just him. The conversation went something like this:
"If YOU CHOOSE to walk in his room and disturb your baby brother again- then YOU CHOOSE to miss out on the popsicle we were going to have. If YOU CHOOSE stay outside the door then YOU CHOOSE to have your popsicle. What do YOU CHOOSE?"
What do you think happened?
He walked in the room (pretty much in tears because he knew what I was going to say) and sure enough woke up his baby brother who was just about to fall asleep for his nap. So then I said in a calm and matter a fact voice (although- I was feeling mega frustrated), "Shoot- the minute YOU CHOSE to walk through that door was the very minute YOU CHOSE to not have that popsicle."
Burst of tears... followed by more crying... followed by begging and pleading for me to change my mind....
As tempting as it was to just make the horrid whiny drama stop- I held my ground. I said it and I had to follow through. Now what would have happened if I would have said, "Okay just don't do it next time." I would have ruined my credibility.
So this is what happened next. I knew that it was obviously nap-time and that I really needed a mommy moment to pull it together after his crying episode- so I acknowledged his feelings of being sad and told him that I am totally okay with him crying if he wants to but that it was now rest time for both kids and he needed to be in his room. He didn't have to sleep but he needed to be in his room until the music was over (lullaby music playing).
These were the exact words I used.
"If YOU CHOOSE to walk out of your room before the music is over, YOU CHOOSE to miss out on another popsicle. If YOU CHOOSE to stay in your room while the music plays, YOU CHOOSE to have a popsicle tomorrow."
He cried for a minute or two but shortly after...silence. He had crawled into bed and fallen sound asleep. It is completely normal for kids to test limits with you. But they will be less frequent if they understand in advance and know you mean it. Brings me to the final one...
#3 Avoid battles around things that are out of your control.
There are three and they have to do with your child's physical body. Something we have no control over.
2. Bowel Moments.
Trust me you are asking to loose battle that you can't win. Unless you have a magic spell that can force a kid to chew and swallow- then it's out of your control. I could do a whole post on each of those so- I will save your eyes right now. Just trust me on this one- avoid starting battles during these moments. They have the power to win. More to come about these later!
Have a great weekend and go enjoy those kids!