I read an article a while back entitled "Sometimes You Just Have to Turn the Car Around." Most of us moms and dads are guilty of giving far too many warnings of what we are "going to do" if our children's behavior does not improve and not enough actual consequences.
"5 more minutes" followed by "5 more minutes" followed by "Ok really. 5 more minutes."
Or "I am not going to tell you again" when both my child and I know that yes, in fact, I will tell him again. And then again probably.
One of the most challenging parts of following through with consequences is when the punishment is a punishment for Mom too. This morning, although Mommy had to suffer as well, she "just had to turn the car around."
The kids and I had driven 45 minutes to a play date. Some would say that is a bit far, but for this mommy, getting out of the house for an activity is the objective and the amount of gas used or miles added to the car become irrelevant. Upon arrival, my 3-year old spotted an extensive train set and parked himself there, foregoing any opportunity for snack or play with any other toy. Knowing him quite well, I anticipated drama if another child -- heaven forbid -- tried to share the train set. And drama was had. After several warnings of "you need to share or we are going home" combined with meltdowns, tears, and fits of anger when approached with this "sharing" concept, I realized what I had to do. And I did not want to do it. For one, I was quite enjoying my time chatting with the other moms, having some semblance of adult conversation. And also, my 1-year old daughter was playing nicely and not crawling up my leg, pulling on my hair, sticking her fingers in my eyes, or trying to fall down stairs. But, my "warnings" to my son were serving no actual warning, and the behavior was not improving. So when he was told that we were going home, the real fun started. A knock-down, drag-out wrestling match ended in me carrying him to the car in my socks (in January), strapping him in to his car seat and letting him scream to holy hell while I retrieved his sister and our belongings. Obviously she needed to cry as she was ripped from her fun bucket of toys as well. Almost immediately upon pulling out of the play date host's driveway, he became remorseful as the true impact of what was happening hit him. "I am a big boy! I am done crying! I will share!" He cried out over and over... as I drove home. It was not fun but I am proud of myself for turning the car around.
Tonight when we tell this story to my husband, you can bet it will start with, "Guess what YOUR son did today?"