Another way to learn....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I walked into the kitchen after working on the computer. I had left my 3yo to have some "independent" play time. I got a familiar smell on the way there and realised as I turned the corner he had enjoyed every minute of his 'free play'... spreading baby powder over the floor. I also realised there was a broom next to the powder bottle. I was finding it difficult to make out if the broom was there because he tried to clean up on his own or if it was used to spread the powder further . The broom did both those jobs!

I wasn’t angry, afterall it’s only powder and I had got done what I needed to on the computer with no interruptions. So I said the normal, “what a mess”, he replied, “I want to go to M’s house” calmly again I said “ we can’t go to M’s house until all this is cleaned, here is the vacuum”. As diligently as he made the mess he was now cleaning it and I made sure I swept some crumbs for him to vacuum up too. It was a lesson to me that not all discipline needs to be punishment sometimes cleaning up after yourself is an important lesson and a consequence in itself.

So here are a couple of tips to teach your child independence and self control:

  • Give your child the benefit of the doubt at least once: On this occasion I chose to look at the broom in the room as a tool for cleaning and not as an instrument for making the mess. So this changed my mood almost immediately.
  • A bargaining tool helps: In this case he wanted something that I was happy to give him anyway since my friend is M’s mum.
I had two choices shout at him and make him sit in a corner while I tidy up the mess.  This would have led to crying on his part, more screaming and some possible wrestling to get him to stay in the corner... and who knows where from there....

My second choice was to use his bargaining tool and my positive view (that he may have tried to clean this up himself hence the broom) to explain that he needs to use a vacuum to clean up the mess.

On this occasion option two worked and I learnt that cleaning up may be an appropriate discipline technique.

Have you ever surprised yourself and reacted differently to how you normally would? What was that like? How did your child respond?


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