Monday, March 9, 2009

How My kids Can Go from Being Praised to Being Punished in 3.2 Seconds

There are many social lessons that each parent chooses to teach their children and to varying degrees. We all vary on points we need to make with them and how much weight each topic should be given.
My biggies are behavior when we are out and about and gratefulness. My kids have never pitched a fit in the middle of Target screaming “Give it to meeeeeeeeeeeee. I want it NOWWWWWWW!” As I heard from a six year old yesterday five aisles down from me while I was shopping alone, enjoying my few moments of “quiet” . This child decided to have a drop-down hands-and-feet failing screaming bloody-murder temper tantrum while the mom screamed over the child. How nice. Even the Target employees were cringing. How did it end after what seemed like an eternity—this brilliant parent gave the child exactly what the temper tantrum had been over and no sooner did the object hit his hands, he glanced a knowing little smile at her. This was not his first time; nor his last.
Now had that been my child well… I cant answer that because I cant even wrap my head around it to imagine that. Is it because my kids are so great and I am the worlds-best mother, no. Its just because that is one of my biggies. We always behave well in public , especially shopping and any tantruming or the like is about the most backwards way to get anything with me. Here we get rewarded for being good- and on an unpredictable schedule. Kinda like the lottery—Hey you never know.
So we are at the grocery store and my kids are helping unpack the cart onto the belt we go through the whole check out process and the cashier comment—They are so well behaved! Michael and Meg smile.. they just won a prize! Our secret rule is whenever anyone gives them or me an unsolicited compliment on their behavior they get some form of a treat. Whats great about this method is it happens so infrequent—but just frequent enough that it instilled this super good behavior that is now pretty much automatic. Som I proudly pronounce you guys get a treat—great job !! Keep it up. We are all smiles as we bundle into the car. I search my purse as I have 2 coupons for Friendlys. They aren’t there—I guess I need to run home and get the coupons (they are bogo ones—can NOT use them!)So I announce—I’ll take you guys to Friendlys but first I have to run home and get he coupons so we will go in about an hour (it was still a bit early for dinner)
The horrific sound then emanates from the backseats: “Uhh.Mommm. I want to go NOW. I don’t want to go home….Moommmmm Lets just go now! Yeah I don’t want to wait an hour”
And just like that Friendlys was cancelled. We –I—do not allow ungratefulness, especially like that. And no sooner than I cancelled it and started preaching about gratitude—they knew they had crossed a line and there was no going back in my mind. So the tears flowed with the “please forgive me” speech. I buttoned up my steel exterior and held firm-nope, not going..maybe next time.
We are a middle-class family, cutting coupons like everyone but in the grand scheme of the world, we live a *charmed* life. They have much to be thankful and grateful for but sometimes they slip-and I know it’s a kid thing. I do. But like I said—that’s a biggie for me. And I think its a slippery slope when you give in even though it was minor. So now everyones a bit blue tonight, with quickly dashed ice-cream dreams. But I feel good in knowing that next time they are given a special treat-for what ever reason- they will remember to be grateful because it can go away just like that.


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