Here’s an idea that might just get your kids’ attention. Don’t yell at them when they break the rules. Instead, quietly and calmly speak to them about their behavior, and let the consequences that you have already determined have their intended effect.
Home School Legal Defense Association recently published an article in their Early Years email newsletter that illustrated the rationale for this. I am reposting the article with HSLDA’s permission:
Have Realistic Expectations
When a police officer rises each morning, he rubs his eyes from the dream of a world in which everyone drives the speed limit and stops at all the traffic lights, nobody takes anything that isn’t his, all the neighbors get along, and banks don’t need guards. Then he smells the coffee, and reality sets in: Someone, somewhere today is going to test the limits (literally!); it just comes with the job.
Imagine this scenario: As you pull out of your driveway and start toward the gas station, you momentarily lose track of the speedometer, and you suddenly are jolted into awareness when you catch the flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror. You pull over to the side, and the officer approaches your window. As you roll it down, meekly smiling, he starts in—and it’s sure not a whisper—“How many signs do we have to put up before you realize that 40 MPH means 40 MPH, not 50, not 45? For crying out loud—do you think I have nothing better to do than look at your driver’s license? It doesn’t look like your car has been washed in months! And how many french fries are on the floor back there, anyway?”
No, it is more likely that he will quietly ask you if you know why he stopped you (and you’ll hope you give the “right” answer!). He will point out what rule you have broken, and may ask if you understood what you did that violated the law. He will then probably mete out the consequences (which are pre-designated, so he doesn’t have to arbitrarily make them up), any protests or excuses or explanations notwithstanding. All calmly. It just comes with the territory. He hopes you’ll learn from it. Then he gets back in his cruiser and pulls away.
Back to real life: Maybe you awakened this morning, still drowsy from the dream of a day when everybody gets himself up, makes his bed, tidies his room, speaks gently to the siblings, offers to take the smallest cookie, bundles the trash, folds the laundry, finishes his schoolwork by noon—all with no reminders. Then you smelled the burnt toast—and reality set in.
Someone will very likely test the rules today. It is just part of the territory when you’re a parent. You can prepare yourself in the family service arena by having age-appropriate expectations and pre-determined consequences (and a sense of humor!).
Reprinted with permission of HSLDA http://hslda.org/