Crime and punishment

October 6, 2011 § 5 Comments

“I’ll kick your butts on the street.” These are the parting words my 4yo uttered to a new classmate and his kindly mum who had invited family porridge in for a coffee on the way home from school. This happened shortly after he had point blank refused to help tidy the mess he had helped to create, and pulled the cushions off a very smart chair that I had instructed him to leave well alone. Chances of being invited back are slim.

I try my hardest not to get exasperated with behaviour like this. 4yo allegedly transforms into an angel once inside the classroom, so I can understand that the superhuman effort that this must take may mean that he needs to let off steam when I come and collect him. But I have to draw a line. And refusing to tidy up, being rude to a host and wrecking furniture is crossing the line.

Thankfully, for now, I just need to say “we need to have words” and he’s quaking in his boots. I have no idea why. I’m not in the least bit scary. In fact “push” and “over” spring to mind. But mention the dreaded “words” and he starts to beg. “Please not words, mummy. No, we don’t need to have words!”

Time out doesn’t really cut it any more. Having recently reacquainted myself with Supernanny courtesy of the morning TV schedule, I tried the time out technique this morning. “No jumping on my bed please,” I state in a cool and calm manner, in a firm, low, slow voice. (You see, I had been paying attention). Then, “This is your warning. If you continue to jump on the bed, you will be placed on a time out.” I’m proud of myself, channelling my inner Jo Frost. So inevitably, 4yo is placed on the step for time out. I brace myself for the fight, tears and recriminations. However he surprises me. Sits there and does his 4 minutes. Gives me a winning smile and a hug. Says sorry. Gets off the step. Runs into another room to create mayhem. Hmmm. Why do I feel like he thinks he’s won the battle? Because TIME OUT IS TOO EASY! An adult conversation about responsibilities and behaviour, that’s what he needs. He needs the dreaded “words”.

I’ll never forget my OH telling me about a friend who was telling off his little boy. Halfway through his father’s lecture, the boy held his hand up and said “One moment, dad. Allow me to check my bothered pocket.” He turned out his pocket. “Nah, empty,” he said, and turned away. How I would react to that I don’t know. But I think it’s a small piece of genius. Just got to make sure my 4yo never catches wind of it. Words would surely fail me.

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