One of the hardest things we can do as parents is follow through with discipline. Especially when the punishment for the child also ends up being a punishment for the parent(s). Tonight, I am at home with my 2 year old while the rest of the family is at my 7 year olds baseball game.
Noah, my 2 year old didn’t eat dinner. We told him that if he didn’t eat dinner then he couldn’t go to James’ baseball game. Hoping that this would encourage him to eat, but knowing full well if it didn’t, I’d be staying home from the ball game as well.
My husband is one of the coaches, so clearly he has to go to the game. I love watching James play ball and he only has 8 games a year. Missing one is a big deal to me, but so is making true on my punishments to my children.
After being around a lot of families this week at summer camp, I was very aware of the empty threats that we as parents constantly make. We have good intentions, we hope that just the mere thought of the threat will turn our child’s attitude around. What happens if it doesn’t though? You just say the same “empty threat” over and over and over again and not follow through?
Then who is winning that battle? The child is learning that they can pretty much get away with doing whatever they want and because you have set a precedent, they no longer believe the “threats” coming out of your mouth. When telling kids if you keep doing this, or don’t do that…I am going to do this, you’d better be fully prepared to follow through.
Sometimes it isn’t easy, sometimes it punishes you just as much and sometimes it is down right embarrassing. Though maybe, just maybe if you follow through the first time, they will believe you the second or third or whatever. It is very hard to follow through with something when it also effects you negatively. The reward, your child learns that you are in charge. That they don’t just get to do whatever they want without any consequences.
Yes it hard, sometimes it breaks your heart. It is part of being a good parent. Part of bringing your child up to be a functioning person in society. That is my hope for all my kids. That they learn how to do the give and take with people in life outside my home. That they don’t just expect to get everything they ever want, no matter what.
Noah was screaming by the door as everyone left for the ball game. “I want to go to baseball game”, he yelled over and over. He was upset and when I reminded him that he decided not to eat, he cried some more. He will get over it and so will I. Maybe next Thursday he will eat his dinner, so he can go watch his big brother play baseball! Or…maybe not and I WILL stay home again. No empty threats here.