I'm in the bad habit of asking my kids "do you want a spanking?" or "do you want a time out?" I know it's horrible discipline 101 but I can't seem to break the habit. I need new verbage. Thanks, Laine
Small children truly excel at a handful of things, such as taking apart perfectly functional household items and creating furniture murals. They are exceptionally gifted at becoming completely and totally captivated by the smallest of sights, smells or sounds. At this stage, almost everything is a new experience in the world! Many times, the familiar sound of mom or dad's voice just can't compete. So, the burden falls to us, as the grownups, to take the necessary steps to make sure our message is being communicated clearly, briefly, and received accurately. Consider something along the lines of this...
Mom walks over to her son (4), squats down to make eye contact, and put her hand gently on his arm. The physical touch helps the child redirect his focus.
"Son, it's time to put your cars in the bin and put your shoes on. What is your job?"
(Waits for child to repeat back)
"My job is to put my cars away and put shoes on."
Mom smiles and says, "That's right, thank you!"
Does this sound cheesy and rehearsed? Maybe so. Does it require extra effort on your part to stop what you are doing, come close and make eye contact? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Totally.
Sometimes the reason parents give so many warnings, count to three, or threaten a consequence is because they have not taken responsibility to make sure that a clear message was sent and received. Is a reminder warning okay? Of course, especially at these younger ages, because it is perfectly possible that he will become totally distracted by something shiny on the way over to the bin that the cars are kept in.
What we are doing here, big picture wise, is allowing for immaturity. This process makes it far easier to determine whether a child heard and understood what was asked of him, and is being disobedient, or if he is just being 4 and overstimulated by life. There is a significant difference in how we handle childish immaturity and willfull defiance.
Questions or comments about this scenario? Leave a comment below and join the discussion!