It appears that we’re finally almost to a point in the Noodle’s development where he understands basic consequences. It’s taken a lot of repetition, but I think he’s finally starting to understand what we mean when we say things like:
If you hit Momma again, you get a time out.
If you throw rocks at someone at the park, we’re going to leave.
If you throw your food, we take it away.
The idea of consequences is one that we’ve worked long and hard to instill, because it’s important that the Noodle understand the If/Then reality of the world. We’ve been doing those things for a long time now, but I think it’s only now starting to sink in to the Noodle. He’s finally starting to understand what we mean when we say “if you do x, we’re going to do y.”
Of course, what that means now? We have to really be willing and able to carry out the consequence. We can’t just say stuff, we have to think through the ramifications FOR US too. The other day, for example, in the midst of a massive tantrum during bathtime, I made the mistake of saying “if you hit momma again, no more bath.” Now, in my head, it made sense–he loves bathtime and was overstimulated because of the bath. But the reality is that cutting out a bath really isn’t a great consequence, at least not when you haven’t washed the yogurt out of your toddler’s hair yet. But, follow through is important, so sure enough, when he hit me again I had to pull the plug on bathtime. Yogurt in the hair and all.
It’s a great example of how you have to keep your wits about you as a parent. You can’t just react, you have to think, really think, of what you’re saying. You have to not promise things you can’t deliver or threaten things you’re not willing to follow through on. Being a liar in your rewards and punishments isn’t the greatest way to build trust and consistency for your kid.
But trust me on this–taking away bathtime before you’ve got the toddler clean is really just a punishment for you both.