This week, I got a great reminder with the tool card: Decide What You Will Do. Before, an emotional interaction with your child, you need to have a plan as to what you will do or how you will handle the situation. Once you have a plan in mind, let your child know what you intend to do. This can be dependent on the actions of your child or not. This goes hand in hand with the tool from week 16, Follow Through. These tools are most effective when used in combination.
I don't have a great example to share with you about using this tool, but I can tell you that when you don't do it things go bad, very bad. The other day, in the midst of an emotional dinner table confrontation between my daughter and husband, my husband started making threats and I joined him. He tried to get her to put her dishes away by raising his voice and telling her to do it, then he told her that she wouldn't be able to have her friend over for a sleep over the following night if she didn't get her dishes cleared from the table. Of course we had already committed to the sleepover with the friend and would not be taking that away, so it wasn't something that should have been threatened.
Children, especially young children, love routine and consistency. They need to know that they can count on certain things in their day to be the same and true. When they know that they can count on us to mean what we say and say what we mean then they don't have to spend time in their day worrying about what will happen "when" or "if". When we decide what we will do in advance we can tell our children, then they know what to expect should they make certain decisions. It is comforting for a child to know what you expect of him and how you expect him to behave.
When our daughter didn't clear her dinner dishes from the table, we should have reminded her that we would not be able to play any games with her until it was done. She loves to play games after dinner, and she has been told that she needs to clear the table in order to do so. All that she really needed at that moment was a simple reminder. We had already decided what we would do, we just didn't do it! Our emotional reaction caused our daughter to feel insecure, because it was unexpected, and equally emotional due to mirror neurons. It is no surprise that she responded the way she did.
I guess this week I learned that we need to decide what we will do and then actually DO it!
Next week we will discuss the Five Criteria for Positive Discipline.