Here's a great story:
Mom: "Are you still awake? Good...why aren't you dressed? Get dressed NOW or you're going in your underwear."
Mom: "Alright, let's go. Grab your backpack."
Me: "But Mom, I'm not ready..."
She grabbed me by the arm and escorted me out the front door. No shoes, no shirt, not a stitch of clothing besides my tighty whities. She held me by the wrist and led me to the car. I can't remember this very clearly because I was somewhat upset. I do remember that I was crying uncontrollably. Likely pleading and begging in some fashion. She put me in the back seat, got in, and drove away casually as if nothing in the world was out of place. And as I began to calm somewhat, I sat, mostly naked and full of fear, in the back seat pondering my next move. I didn't have any more outs. I had no clothing and no plan. .... I was going to school in my underwear.
Never once did it cross my mind that this could be a bluff. My mother didn't bluff. She wasn't turning the car around. Heck, we were halfway to school already! Here I was, in my undies and headed toward certain ridicule and major embarrassment of the worst kind, the ridicule of grade-school peers. And all because I'd chosen to sleep when I should have been getting dressed. When I should have been enjoying a nutritious breakfast. I slept this upon myself. I had learned my lesson. It wouldn't happen again. I'd always get up from now on at first call. Various other reasoning and begging followed. I gazed into the rearview mirror, looking her in the eyes. I grovelled. And she stared back and me, cold and firm in her resolution.
We pulled into the driveway of my school, and up the lane to the front doors; the main car-rider drop off point. My mother didn't even put the car in park. She just looked at me expectantly in the rearview. Not a speck of emotion. "Well?...," said her eyes. I began to cry again. She put the car in park, killed the engine, unfastened her seatbelt, and got out. I was completely prepared. I had mentally readied myself to be dragged from the car, in a cliched kicking and screaming fashion. My mother went around back of the car and opened the trunk, from which she removed a brown paper grocery bag. She came back around to the side and opened my door. She stood there looking at me, like I was the worst child ever. And she handed me the brown bag with my clothes inside. "Get dressed."
Twas indeed the last time I ever failed to hearken to my mother's wakeup call.
Read the whole thing
We've been talking a lot lately about discipline and the importance of consistency
, and I think this story illustrates a great point:Don't threaten something unless there will be consequences, and if you do threaten, follow through!
My aunt and uncle did a similar thing with my cousin when she was 4. She would never get up and get dressed, and she put up a real fuss in the morning. So one day they just took her to kindergarten in her pyjamas. Her teacher and the other children made her so embarrassed (she changed quickly) that she never did it again.
The best discipline for most infractions is usually the natural consequence of the action. Sometimes, of course, that isn't possible, as this post when I talked about the 16-year-old boy who had been caught speeding. But the consequence the mom did find certainly fit the crime!
All we need to do is once or twice follow through on these things, and then kids know we're serious. They'll listen to us from now on. My children rarely talk back to me (though they do grumble when they do chores, etc.) because they know I'm serious. They know there will be consequences. And they learned that because a long time ago, when they were young, my husband and I followed through in big ways with a few things. Message learned.
Consistency is hard, but it has such a payback because it means the rest of your years of parenting will be much easier. You only have to do drastic things a few times to get your message across. But when kids see that you are prepared to do drastic things, they listen! And they react.
Have you ever come up with some creative consequences for your kids? Leave a comment!
Labels: discipline, parenting