Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When is it a threat and when is it a consequence?

As a mom, I really want my kids to listen to me and do the right thing simply because I ask them to. I don't want to be the mom always yelling, "Stop that or your in timeout/we're leaving/I'm taking that toy away/etc." I agree with assigning natural consequences to a behavior, but sometimes I feel like I can't stop my kids from doing something without making a threat.

My normal procedure of disciplining my kids is first to ask them to stop what they are doing and tell them the reason they are not supposed to be doing that action. Ideally, I would like for that to be the only warning. Really, who wants to be saying the same thing over and over again? In reality, I know I will have to repeat many key phrases umpteen times until my kids are finally grown and hopefully leave the house! I guess my usually consequence when they continue the behavior is timeout, loss of whatever they might be fighting over, separating them from each other, or leaving and going home if we happen to be out and about.

Recently we started a good behavior chart involving stickers and money because I also want to make sure a majority of my parenting is positive and rewards good behavior. So far it seems like the chart is working well. The kids like getting their stickers at the end of the day and it gives us a chance to talk about how the day went and what they need to try to work on tomorrow. But, I've realized even that can be turned negative when I am threatening that they won't get a sticker on their chart if they continue doing XYZ.

Last weekend we were at a birthday party and Payton was just pestering Ella for no reason. I was seriously thinking to myself, there a tons of other kids here and you can bother your sister at home anytime. What are you doing? First I ask her to leave  Ella alone. I then put her in time out right outside the open door of the party room. She seriously did not care. I would think it would be embarrassing to be in timeout at a party, but I guess not. Finally, I threaten that we will have to leave the party if she doesn't stop. I hate that I had to resort to the threat and I'm not sure if I would have in fact left if she didn't stop. I would like to say I would have, because there is nothing worse than making a threat and then not following through with it. On the other hand, leaving the party would have been totally unfair to Ella. Thankfully Payton did find some other distraction and left poor Ella alone so I didn't have to worry about what to do next.

For the most part my kids are usually well behaved. Some days are great and being a SAHM seems like the easiest job out there. But there are those not so great days where I feel like my whole life is a series of, "if you don't stop doing X, then Y is going to happen." My question is, how do other parents get their kids to stop a behavior without making a threat? When is it a threat and when is it simply telling your kids what the consequences will be? Thanks for the input!

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