Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Consequences, consequences, consequences.....

I am a big believer in them.

For example, this morning as Toby was preparing to leave for school instead of wearing his warm winter coat, he put on a hoody over his school uniform.

Me: "Aren't you going to wear a coat today Tobes, it is January still?"
Toby: "No Mum, it's not cool to wear a coat. I'll be fine in this."
Me (swallowing all the words that have risen to the tip of my tongue about being silly, catching your death, what if it rains etc etc): "Ok, well at least wear a hat and some gloves and then you'll be lovely and warm." I thought this was a good compromise.
Toby: "I don't need a hat and gloves Mum! I've got a hood and pockets!"

Managing to refrain from lecturing him about dressing appropriately for the seasons, I kissed him goodbye and sent him on his way. Although if he does come home from school dripping wet because it has rained, or freezing cold, I will probably relish saying "I told you so".

Of course there are some battles that we have to have with our children - for example a 3 year old should hold your hand whilst crossing the road. But whenever I can, I give the decision making to the child and let them learn from the natural consequences. Some consequences are less desirable than others, and some children are so stubborn they won't even admit to you that they didn't like the consequences. Max refuses to put up his hood when it rains. I have so many other important battles with him, so this is one I am not going to have. When I tell him he will get wet and cold, instead of then putting up his hood he replies "I like being wet and cold". I am quite certain that he doesn't, but he certainly won't admit that to me!

The worst aspect of all of this is when it does all go wrong for them, and then they moan to me about it! Last week we were playing in the park which has a small stream running through it. Max and Jonah, appropriately attired in wellies, decided to play in the stream. I shouted my usual "When you get water in your wellies and up your trousers, you will be very cold" but of course they never believed it could happen to them. A few minutes later, Jonah clambered out of the stream, took off his welly, turned it upside down and out gushed all the water. Crying at me because he was wet and cold, he sat down on the path and refused to move. It's hard to take responsibility for your own actions, but at 4 years old he was learning this.

Hard as it is as a mum (especially and control freak like me!), allowing children to learn from the consequences is so important for them. We can't always be there to tell them what to do and part of our training and 'letting go' is to allow them to make mistakes. They learn how to make decisions, they learn about taking responsibility and most of all even if they try to, they can't blame their parents for their actions - and in our society of blame and passing the buck, this is a really important skill to learn.

So, I will wait for Toby to come home today, cold and bedraggled and I will try hard not to gloat over the fact that I was right (again).

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