The Positive Discipline Tool this week was: Follow Through. The message here is clear - Say what you mean and mean what you say!
Easier said than done sometimes. This is one of those tools that I find very effective, but I am also the kind of person who exaggerates quite easily. It is hard to follow through when you say things like, "If you break that glass you won't be allowed to use glasses anymore in our house". Yeah right, like i'm never going to let my child have another drink again. Why do I say things like that? Well, it has taken a lot of practice, and I still slip up now and then, but I have really tried to reign in the exaggerated threats and only say things that I can really do. I have to be very strict with myself and make sure that I follow through EVERY time.
My daughter, age 5.5, now knows that I mean what I say, and most of the time she does not test me. When she does test me, I am forced to think of a consequence that I can follow through with. Sometimes the consequence just as disappointing to me as it is to her. One long standing consequence in our house is that if chores aren't finished by the end of the day then we don't get to go to the park. When I have to follow through on this one it makes my entire day more difficult. Not only do I have to be the bad guy, but I also don't get to get out of the house myself and either does the baby, so that leads to a very long afternoon for us all. I have thought about changing the rule on this one, but there is really nothing else that works for us. I have tried no bedtime stories if the chores aren't finished by bedtime, but I think bedtime stories are too important to miss out on. One time I threatened to give away any toys that were still on the floor at the end of the day, of course I couldn't do that, there wouldn't have been anything left!
One area that we are really good at this is bedtime. We never waiver on time or routine. When we say it is time, there is no complaining or negotiating, just into the bedtime routine. We started this one very early with our daughter and have maintained our stance to this point. We hear stories from friend's all the time about bedtime struggles and it always makes us grateful for our bedtime plan of action. We also always give our kids a warning when we are doing something fun when the last one or last time is coming. We say, "last one" and we mean it. We already do this with the baby when feeding him and doing silly sounds or games that he loves.
The point is: you have to say what you mean and then mean what you say, even if it means sometimes being the bad guys or being crazy strict about certain things. Children love routine and boundaries, they give them structure, something to rely on!
Next week we will work with: Agreements.