Sometimes you can't use natural consequences (like you didn't wear your jacket after I told you to, you might be cold...), so we have to rely on logical consequences. One thing I often say is "If you do this (fill in the blank), then this will happen (fill in the blank)." And with our son acting very 3 (pushing every boundary we have), I am using that more and more. By the way, even if he doesn't like my logic, he perfectly understands what I mean and what will happen. Just yesterday at the park, he kept trying to climb up the slide. Unfortunately, I think they do that at his school, which means we have to undo it in kindergarten. :) But with me, my rule is "we go DOWN the slide, not up". I again stated that he was not to go up the slide. (Just to clarify, I am not trying to be silly or petty...it is a legitimate safety issue when other kids come down the slide. I have seen what can happen...it isn't pretty :) Anyway, my child persisted. That is his mood recently, at least at home. I haven't had complaints at school yet. He wants to do what he wants to do. I don't want him to sound like a monster. All of our other kids went through this too at this age. There is just an awareness that he does have some control in his life he hasn't realized before. Unfortunately he is going to learn sooner or later that with control comes some consequences. Anyway, I just picked him up, and I moved him back to the ground and reminded him of the rules. After about the third time, I used my statement. "If you go up the slide again, then you will have to sit with me on the bench." Guess what he did? He looked at me, squared that jaw, and climbed back on the slide. I just picked him up and carried him, kicking and screaming, to the bench. A funny sidenote...when I asked him to tell my mom about visiting the park, he actually shared that part with her! So maybe, just maybe, it is starting to sink in that I mean business. :)
All that to say, I have been thinking of some other "if, then" statements...not just for the toddler but for all of my kids. These are the ones that are not said, but are implied or are inevitable...
- If you break my rule and I have to carry you to the bench, then everyone is going to stare as I try to hold onto this screaming, wiggling kid.
- If I ground you, then I will have to deal with more of your attitude than before.
- If I ground you from a fun event, I may have to stay home from the same fun event too...just as much of a punishment for me than for you.
- If I tell you that you cannot get up from the table until you have eaten at least half of the banana you insisted you needed for lunch, then I better clear my schedule for the afternoon and be prepared to wait you out.
- If I tell you we will leave the restaurant if you cannot change your attitude, I better be ready to walk out the door hungry.
- If I tell you that you will have to hold my hand if you cannot stay near us, then I better be ready to hold your hand everywhere, no matter how hot or how tired I am!
- If I say I am going to take you to school in your pajamas if you don't get dressed in time (thankfully this hasn't happened yet...), then I will likely be the talk of the teacher's lounge. :)
- If I send you to bed early, I better be prepared for a lot of crying and screaming (on your end, not mine :).
- If I ban you from playing outdoors, I better be ready for you to be underfoot the next few days.
- If I ground you from playing outside, I better be prepared for the pitiful looks of your friends who stop by to ask you to play.
- If I give you a consequence, I need to remember to tell Daddy or you might just "forget"...at least until your sibling tattles on you. Oh, and they will.
- If I take away electronic privileges, I better be ready to outline in detail what that means.
I could go on and on, but for your sake (and mine since I have to get up early tomorrow), I won't. All that to say, parenting is no easy task. And managing behavior is no easy task either. Oftentimes, discipline or consequences are just as hard on us as they are on the kids...if not harder. But we do it anyway, hoping that we are showing our kids the difference between right and wrong, showing them that our behaviors have consequences, and expressing that life has boundaries, whether we like it or not.
And oftentimes we don't (like it), even as adults.
But that is life.