Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day Seven?

I think this is the seventh day of the Consequence Contract, which has incidentally been the best form of discipline I have EVER used with my son. Aside from that very first day, I have had absolutely ZERO complaints and have enjoyed a full week of the relative serenity provided by the banning of electronic devices and the temper roller-coaster that often accompanies them.

In the meantime, I have issued two mini-contracts, one to each of my children, for slightly more minor infractions of our moral code of conduct. On the same day, my beautiful little girl got a contract which defined the terms of a one-day grounding for persistent teasing (something that I absolutely can no longer tolerate), while my son got almost the same contract as his sister for infractions that don't really need to be mentioned here. The outcome was that they both got home from school, read and signed a contract, and stayed in the house and back yard playing only together (and with mom and dad) until bed time. This was the first understanding of the fact that they could, indeed, earn another contract while still working through the duration of an existing consquence.

Hence, a new "culture" in our home has begun. In fact, my daughter told me the other day that her brother, quote "needs a contract" for something he said to her. I decided then and there that I like this rather peaceful and democratic system. Okay, so this bring us to this morning and the two mini-contracts that are sitting patiently on our kitchen counter waiting to be read.

Surprisingly, they are not for Chailyn and Kayden! They are for Chailyn and... his mom! This morning he and I had a run-in over something (the details of which are inconsequential). He began to race around the room, avoiding my beckoning, and then started to slap and flail a bit. Instead of quieting my mind, walking away, counting to ten, I grabbed his arm to hold him still... and yes, raised my voice (not too harshly), and dealt with it in a less-than-democratic-and-peaceful way. NOT a good way to start the day.

So off the children went to school, but before the big yellow bus even got out of our subdivision, I was writing a joint contract. Chailyn has to write a 3x5 card about how he could better deal with a similar situation in the future. My consquence? Left blank... to be discussed with, and written by... Chailyn.

I want him to also have the benefit of this tool that seems to be working well for me. Now of course, I won't let him abuse it (or me). I want him to think about how it made him feel when I lost my temper, and think about what might be a logical consquence for me.

But just as in the rest of this giant experiment called parenting, it's all trial and error... and we only hope that we make more correct hypotheses than not. Here's another one of my dad's sayings: "Do something, even if it's wrong!" What he meant was, instead of living life passively, doing nothing to make positive change, take a stab at it! If you get it right, great! If not, learn from your mistake and press on.

I want my kids to know that I make mistakes, that I am human. However, I also want to instill in them a sense of responsibility for their actions. Even if what I did was a mistake, I still OWN it. It was MY mistake. Once they learn that, it will be easier for them to apologize, forgive, and be forgiven. To live free of guilt and to try new things without fear of being bound by failure. Wow, if they can truly internalize those qualities, they will live a very happy life... and that's all we really want for our children, right?

1 comment:

  1. Okay, so the first "mommy-contract" session wasn't the learning experience I had hoped. His thought was to ban ME from computers until June 18th... that is until his father stepped in to ask if that was a logical consquence. Then he thought me giving him a chocolate bar would be a good idea. Ummm, can you say kickbacks? He ended up deciding that I would spend a half hour jumping on the trampolene with him. Okay. Deal. But honestly, I would have done that anyway. So, live and learn. Contract for kids= good. Contract for moms written by kids= a learning experience!