So often I see my threenager do or say something that shows a blatant sense of entitlement or no sense of gratitude or even a cordial acknowledgement for the privileges available to her. I love her confidence and perseverance but that’s something I will encourage only as long as it’s healthy. When that very quality turns into stubbornness and a full-of-herself kind of attitude, she needs to take a break and re-work on her basic manners and skills that seem to have gone out of order. I take this matter oh so seriously because I know that she is at that vulnerable age where she is at a great risk of growing into a spoilt brat. And I am not raising a spoilt child, come what may. It’s all about accountability and consequences…And it starts right here, right now… in that very moment. Here are some promises I made to myself because I want my child to be the best version of herself … with no regrets, pride only!
#1 : I am not letting this little human boss me or anyone around in a disrespectful way. NO WAY!
With great power comes great responsibility. My responsibility as a parent is to be in-charge. I am not letting my child manipulate me PERIOD. As soon as she starts to seek attention in wrongful ways, as soon as she tries to use her words and actions to guilt me into letting her have her way, I have to put my foot down. Give respect and gain respect … through your choices. It’s a 2 way street!
#2 : I am not always going to give her everything she WANTS.
I am going focus on her capabilities first and then give her what she NEEDS in order to keep up her momentum to becoming a grateful human being. She might not like limits and structure, but it’s necessary for her to understand the value of freedom and choice. When she’s reached there, limits can gradually turn into options, suggestions and advice.
#3: I am not going to clean up her mess.
I can patiently wait for as long as she needs me to, but she needs to organise and put back her stuff after she’s done with it. She is also responsible for where exactly they go because that will help her to locate them when she needs them later. I give her enough time, guidance and reminders throughout her playtime so she doesn’t feel overwhelmed, tired, or too hurried into cleaning up later. Thats all I can do.
#4: I am not going to do everything for her.
I have started to realise that as she is growing up, she is becoming more and more willing to be self sufficient. Me doing every little thing for her gives her the message that she doesn’t NEED to be self sufficient. She could just as easily get used to the privilege and not bother being independent. So I have started to resist the temptation to help her when not needed. Instead I spend time to guide her how to do those things safely and efficiently. I have also started to give her simple responsibilities in the daily chores while she watches her parents do the same at home. Work hard and play harder is a philosophy that teaches the value of and relationship between work and play.
#5 : I am always going to follow through on disciplinary consequences.
No such thing as empty threats, only reasonable consequences. You do the crime, you better do the time. Great choices = endless shout outs and rewards; Poor choices = nagging boo hoo’s and instant loss of choices. If I don’t follow through on disciplinary actions consistently, every single time, she gets an inconsistent message and therefore doesn’t follow through on her good choices consistently either. Words have meaning and she needs to respect that.
#6: I am not going to excuse her rude or bad behaviour.
Because she knows better. She might be just a little kid, she might be a girl, she might be tired, she might be playing silly, she might be too excited, but nothing is an excuse for disobedience or disrespect. Whatever happens, she needs to be aware of and responsible for her behaviour. Consequences will follow.
#7: And lastly, I am always going to make my child think and reason out.
Although the chain of why’s and because’s can be endlessly frustrating with an enthusiastic threenager, it’s still an amazing sign of understanding and reasoning. Walking me through the choices and consequences is the best thing my child can do to learn about accountability. Intentions and motives are the building blocks for choices. My goal is to make her understand how all of these connect together so she can find it all reasonable for herself and not just because I said so!
Its not easy to do the above and I do come across as a “mean mom”. But as a “mean mom”, I mean well and hopefully my child will realise that, sooner or later. I love her to the moon and back and she knows that it’s unconditional. But by now, she also knows that her sad choices hurt my feelings and tries her best to not break my heart. She knows that the softer I talk to her, the more hurt or serious I am. Seeing me hurt, I can see her feel the pain right away. And that very bond makes her reset her attitude and turn her choices around. That’s the little light of mine and I am gonna let it shine! LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE!!!