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For example, yesterday my highly emotional 8-year-old was having a very anxious morning. I mean a R-E-A-L-L-Y tough morning.
At some point during the morning he had gained full control over the step-stool from the kitchen and was carrying it around so nobody else could use it. Not that anybody else truly NEEDED to use it, but seeing as it was deemed “untouchable” by all but said 8-year-old, the war was on!
Side note: I have been praying for creative parenting over the past week. I have been working on letting natural consequences take the lead of sinful behavior and on consequences that actually relate to the unacceptable behavior.
So the perfect consequence for this silly little act of rebellion, which was covered in greed, selfishness, and immaturity, was to make him carry the stool around the rest of the morning. He would have to take it to the closet with him to put on his clothes. He would have to sit on it to eat his breakfast and to put his shoes on. He would be “one with the stool” until he walked out the door for school.
As you can imagine, he wasn't too thrilled with his consequence.
He began having an honest-to-goodness panic attack. He began writhing as if he were in pain, then he took off out the door and began thrashing around outside. Lots of screaming and crying continued over the next 20 minutes.
Was the consequence unrealistic?
Was the consequence unrelated?
Was the consequence the best type of consequence for this particular son at this particular moment?
What I did do was to hand out an appropriate consequence at an inappropriate time.
I didn't take into consideration his emotional state before handing out his consequence. But in my mind, he was being irrational, resulting in inappropriate behavior. So when he acted out in this completely normal 8-year-old boy way I responded with a consequence for a completely normal 8-year-old boy, instead of looking at the full picture. This particular morning was not the time to give this kind of consequence to this particular child.
So how can we reach the heart of our children in creative and fresh ways while still taking into consideration the child and his or her personality?
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when determining a consequence
1 – What is the offense? Think about the heart behind the action. Was it an immature act of childishness or an act of defiance?
2 – Is this consequence age and child appropriate? Each child is different and will interpret discipline and consequences in different ways. For example, we have a different way of disciplining our adoptive child than our biological children, based on her past and background.
3 – What is the mental and emotional state at the particular time of offense? Are they already on the threshold of an emotional breakdown or tired from a super late night? Take this into consideration.
4 – Is this something that I am willing to be firm and consistent on? Make sure this is a battle worth fighting. If you aren't willing to give it your all, you should go a different route.
5 – Is this a consequence made in a battle of wills hoping to come out on top as the victor, or to mold the heart of your child? I am constantly having to check myself in this area. Is this simply a battle of wills between the mama and the 4-year-old or is it a tactic to help shepherd the heart and character of the child?
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