I needed to make a new house rule today. If you haven’t read my short post on house rules just clink on the link.
Today I found lots of snack garbage in my daughter’s room.
This is a problem because our dog eats the garbage and gets sick.
I was disappointed because it’s expensive to fix the dog and not being neat about your room isn’t a good quality. I’ve talked with Celina (my daughter) about this before.
This time I said: You’re not responsibly eating in your room because I found lots of snack garbage not being thrown away properly.
As a result, the new rule is; no more eating snacks in the room.
If you don’t follow the rule, what should happen?
Daughter: Take my phone for a week.
Me: Okay, thank you.
There was no fighting, no anger and no bad feelings.
My daughter knows I love her. She also knows I am the boss and what I say about rules is based on the good of the group not just for me. I think this is a good example of leadership as a parent.
One week later: While cleaning I found snack trash again in my daughter’s room.
When she came home I made sure to connect with her by talking about her day. I also reminded her how proud I am that she is doing such a good job at school.
Then I said, by the way, have you been eating snacks in the room again thus breaking the house rule?
She said yes and as a result lost her new iphone 5 for one week.
I told her it breaks my heart to have to do this but she made the consequence.
Some important notes:
Many parents can’t wait for the child to get home so they can punish them for breaking a rule. It’s as if they can’t wait to catch their child doing something wrong. (I like to catch them doing something right). This is not effective for maintaining a heartfelt loving relationship. I know because in the past as soon as Celina returned home I would tell her about something she did wrong. I would even role play in my mind about how I was going to get her. (I had control issues) This puts the love between parent and child at risk.
Always connect first is a key ingredient
Second, never say “it’s okay but next time”. This means your rules are not important because you don’t enforce them. This sends a message to the child that you are not a real leader.
When you enforce the rule it should hurt
I felt bad taking Celina’s phone. She knew I did. I did not enjoy it. However, some parents are vindictive when they enforce rules. This too will thicken the wall between parent and child. The thicker the wall, the less influencing power you’ll have in the relationship.
Punishing your child should not be a chance for you to feel superior. It’s not a chance for you to feel good. What’s been working well for me is when we are both disappointed over the behavior and consequences.