“If you don’t stop pushing the cart into the displays,” I let my words dangle, hoping I’d instilled the perfect sense of menace.
“Will you take us home and beat us?” My cheeky son asked brightly.
My face burned as I caught the alarmed glances suddenly turned my way. I met the eyes of one particularly concerned woman and, feeling the overwhelming urge to reassure her, said, “Don’t worry. If he was beaten on a regular basis, he wouldn’t be asking about it so happily.” Awkward silence followed as I commandeered the shopping cart and beat a hasty retreat.
Obviously I don’t actually beat my children, but I still find myself struggling with ways to help them learn the consequences of their behaviors. Time outs work fairly well for Elizabeth. As does making her sit in her room alone. There’s nothing my little ham hates more than not being the center of attention. Joseph often puts himself in time out if he’s feeling a little emotional, but other than that, punishments make my brain work as hard as rewards. I muddle along with punishments as diverse as pulling weeds to deadheading the rose bushes.
One of the mommies on my moms‘ forum said she uses charts with points towards rewards added or deleted. Another mom charges her children portions of their allowance for each transgression. While I see the merits for both of these techniques, it’s also a lot of work and I’m, well, tired a lot of the time.
For the moment, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and cross my fingers that the kids keep doing what they’re doing – being cheeky little monkeys with a healthy respect for their mother even if she doesn’t beat them on a daily basis.
What sort of consequences do you use in your house?