Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rather Mean Voice

Figuring out what to do in disciplinary situations is one of the toughest things I have found in parenting.  They do something out of line and you have to decide the most effective course of action in a split second.  You can't just think about what will make them stop.  You have to consider all the ramifications on their spirit as well.  And just when I think we have it all figured out, my oldest informs me that it's time to change our game.

His bedroom is upstairs and our living room is downstairs.  He has a bad habit of sneaking out of his room at night and playing trains in the playroom.  Because the playroom is a loft, we can hear him whispering, "Choo choo" without even straining our ears.  We tell him over and over to go back to bed.  We have consequences for not staying in bed but they don't seem to be very effective.  Eventually, without fail, my husband tromps up the stairs and says in a firm voice, "Get.  In.  Bed...NOW."  My oldest scampers into his room and falls asleep shortly after.  This has become routine in our house.

The other night at dinner my husband said to our oldest, "You know that Daddy is serious when I say, "Get in bed now, don't you?"  

My oldest said, "Yes, I do.  But you say it in a rather mean voice.  Next time could you say, 'Could you please get back in your bed?'"

We were both shocked for a minute.  Our three year old was reminding us how to be respectful and kind.  My husband recovered faster than me and said, "Well, would you listen if I asked you nicely?"  He said he would and they agreed to try the nice way that night.

Guess what?  It worked.  My husband kept his cool and reminded him to stay in bed with sentences full of "please" and "thank you".  My oldest was equally as sweet and went to bed without a fuss.  Will he stay in his room instead of playing in the playroom?  Probably not.  But we learned how he likes to be dealt with and we can respect that from this point forward.

How often do we, as parents, ask them how they like to be spoken to?  If you're like me, you probably don't very often.  But I'm going to start and I challenge you to do the same.  Talk to them when both of you are playing quietly on the floor or shooting hoops in the driveway.  Ask them.  They just might tell you.

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