Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Natural Consequences- Bah!

Before I had kids I thought I would rely heavily on natural consequences for discipline. That was before E. He manages to render natural consequences powerless at the drop of a toy.

Here's how it's supposed to work:

If a child doesn't want to wear a coat in the dead of winter you let them go without. Then a happy (albeit somewhat smug) mother stands at the door watching as her son spends exactly one minute outside. She smiles as he runs back to her to grab his jacket. She doesn't have to say, "I told you so," because he just knows and they will never have that battle again. At least, that is what I picture.

Or you let your child's teeth feel dirty and icky if he refuses to brush them. And you wait until he comes crawling back to you with toothbrush in hand, begging you to put the toothpaste on the brush.

And if he throws a book across the room, he loses the privilege of reading it. Then he becomes very sad and he vows never to toss books into the air again. He keeps that promise.

This is not my life. I have a superhuman toddler who could care less if he's freezing. I could finish a good-sized book--like the Bible--waiting for him to come in because he was cold. He doesn't mind that gritty film on his teeth. And he'd go get a different book if I took one away. I know, because we have a graveyard of forgotten books and toys on the top of our bookshelf.

What I really need to know is: what is the consequence for a complete kicking-and-screaming meltdown because he doesn't want to leave the sand mountain? Or the sobbing because I didn't realize that he really really really wanted to put the banana in the blender when we were making smoothies? Or constantly "digging for gold" in his nose? (He doesn't mind the natural consequence of nosebleeds.)

Maybe the question I should be asking is: Who are those angelic kids the books reference when they prescribe the natural consequences method and how can I get one of them next time?

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