Whilst trying to tame the monster of effective parenting and discipline, we have all made a myriad of threats that for whatever reason we have been unable to follow through, despite knowing full well that the long term gains will outweigh the short term pain. This inability to follow through can often depend on the threat itself and the possible ramifications, our mood at the time, where we are, who we are with (and hence who is judging) and what the reaction of the child may be if we do or do not follow through with our threat.
We all know that boundaries and the adherence to them is one of the most important aspects and tools to good parenting. But how far have you gone to follow through on a threat when every other cell in your body wanted to give in and avoid the fracas, not to mention the inconsulate look of despair on their’ too cute to be punished’ face? It is natural to want to recoil as we coolly but calmly explain that they can no longer have the promised treat due to their less than desirable behaviour. I have had great moments of living though a tantrum at a supermarket by steadfastly refusing to give in to the lollypop, biscuits or chocolate bar. I have patted myself on the back, ignored the stares of others and congratulated myself for teaching my child another lesson in life. But I have also had moments of not having the energy to stand by and watch the less than discreet displays of assertiveness at the hands of a 2 year old and thus given in to the little blighter only to curse at myself in the car for my moment of weakness. On reflection though I have decided that if I can pretty much follow through the majority of the time, then I will hopefully get the message across. And I am happpy to remind myself that it is far more beneficial for everyone to withstand the guilt and pained looks for the short term, and just say “no”.
There are some threats too that are much easier to follow through with. I have no qualms in taking away a Nintendo DS or computer game console for as long as it is deemed necessary. I have no problem turning off TVs, relegating a fight to the open spaces of the outside world and have on many occasions refused a child a biscuit, sweet or ice-cream or new toy. There are also some threats that I think I would struggle with but if I had the guts I know would work a treat! My husband is far better at following through with the harder stuff than me…and guess what? They still think he is just the best dad ever and have thus far not held on to any grudge!
Recently a friend of mine won the admiration of many a parent for her staunch follow though of a pretty precarious threat that I know many would have faltered at. Her 8 year old daughter was not doing everything she was asked, was annoying her brother and despite repeated requests to change her behaviour was lumped with the threat of cancelling her party that was organised for the end of the week. Subsequently due to the refusal of said 8 year old to come to the party (so to speak) and possibly not really believing that mum could be so cruel, she had to turn up to school the following day with the news that there was no longer going to be a party and nor would she be accepting any presents. Now whilst we all gave a little shudder, we were all pretty proud of our friend and her ability to stand her ground. And apart from that it was a worthwhile lesson for all those little unfortunate guests who missed out on the party. They still celebrated as a family and the birthday didn’t go by unnoticed, but the threat to cancel the party was adhered to and probably had more of an effect on mum than the little girl. One would now expect that in time however, should this child be threatening some unwanted behaviour around the time of her sweet 16th, she may just remember that little lesson from the past before she thinks about pushing any of those boundaries! And guess what? She still loves her mum more than anything and is far more inclined to listen her threats!
Do you struggle following through with your threats? Do you make unrealistic threats? Or have you had success following through when no-one believed you would?