Guiding Behaviour

This version of ‘dear compassionate’ comes via a conversation I had with a mom in passing. ¬† I told her about my blog and she said well I have a question for you…

Here it is:

picked up my son and his friend from school. ¬†As we were walking up to our front door my son kicked a halloween decoration, to most likely show off in front of his friend, and it broke. ¬†Meanwhile he lost his tooth today, so I was thinking that a good consequence would be for the tooth fairy to leave a note letting him know that due to this incident she wasn’t going to leave him any money in exchange for his tooth. ¬†

This mom is on the right track, but since she asked I was given the opportunity to share and inquire and see if we could get closer to some of the issues at hand. ¬†I asked her what she wanted to teach him and she said, ‘the value of money.’ ¬†So here are my thoughts:

  • Teaching: ¬†Remembering that the key to directing a child’s behaviour is teaching. If you want to put a consequence in place, ask yourself what your goal is?
  • Linking: Children learn by making connections. ¬†Hence it is important to tie to the incident directly to the teaching moment. ¬†In this case – the tooth fairy might be too far off what actually happened.
  • Money: Sometimes we forget to show our kids actual cents and dollars, as we often use bank cards or visas. ¬†If you want to teach your kids about spending and saving incorporate actual money. ¬†Let them watch you or allow them to exchange actual money with a cashier. ¬†Talk them through it and let them know that once the money is spent that it is gone.
  • Connection: ¬†I invite you to include connection into your consequence. ¬†For example, let’s say this mother and son decide to replace the decoration with some money from his piggy bank (remember that it doesn’t have to be the same value as the original item – it is the concept we are after). ¬†As they go off to the store it opens the door for a little time together and an opportunity to talk.
  • Whole Picture: ¬†Our kids do things for all different reasons. ¬†Sometimes they are just being silly, they may want to show off, they may want our attention and so forth. ¬†It is important to take a step back and see if there is anything bigger going on. ¬†Maybe there isn’t, but if there is, it allows you to take a look. ¬†In this case, maybe while they are out shopping they can talk about showing off. ¬†We have all shown off before. ¬†Highlight all the reason he doesn’t need to show off – he is already perfectly special just the way he is.

Our kids often do things that push our buttons.  It usually means they have crossed a value.  Our gut reaction is to get mad, yet if we can take a moment and step back we can open a space to get at the core of what happened and in the end give us a chance to build a better relationship with our kids.  I know and understand that it is so much easier to write this and that at times in our parental journey we flip out before we get the chance to think things through.  Ironically our kids often behave in the same way.  Leave a space to be human and screw up.  The same way we leave space for our kids to be human and screw up!   Oh and do something nice for yourself today!

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There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein