I was vacuuming for the 3rd time this week, and can you guess what was all over the floor?
Those little reminders that I’m still desperate for grace.
And before I could finish my sentence “Please stop what you’re doing and pick up these toys…” I stopped short. I didn’t add the usual “Or I’ll…” to the command. I stood there and just watched and waited for their obedience. I realized that if they aren’t able to obey simply because I’ve asked them to, then we have a big problem. A problem that threats that Or I’ll’s can’t cure.
My desire is to teach my children the lifestyle of respect.
I want to show them the joys and sacrifices of relationship. We all have a role and jobs to do in contributing to a family – which is a gift. We are privileged to have a place together, and with our place comes responsibility.
And while I use rewards and consequences to shape their behavior and guide their choices, those don’t last forever, and they are not supposed to replace their will.
What will last are character, integrity, dignity, compassion, respect, and the discipline of delayed gratification. These are all a part of teaching my children to operate out of an inner place of wisdom and goodness.
So even though I still use rewards and consequences in training my little people, I was reminded in that vacuum induced toy-rant that my use of these alone cannot accomplish the mission we have as a family.
Here are 5 reasons why I didn’t say “Or I’ll:”
- My kids don’t need to be threatened all the time. This is the ugly side of using consequences too quickly. It becomes a habit to manipulate behavior by stating upfront the consequence for not obeying. (And I won’t number the times these threats have been vain.)
- They know they need to obey already – a threat doesn’t reinforce something good, but rather reinforces the idea that “mom is mean.”
- Sometimes natural consequences are better than mom-inflicted ones.
- Expecting obedience teaches them to take more responsibility verses operating out of response to the greatest stimulator and allows me to observe their behavior, growth, and questions. When there isn’t an “Or I’ll” to compete with they are allowed to ask why, what for, etc. within reason.
- Clear instruction improves our relationship and doesn’t trigger their fight or flight. When constantly rewarding and doling out consequences, I am parenting to the “want” of a child. Putting that child in the position to choose their behavior based on their wants is to train them to make emotional decisions versus training them to be a disciplined leader themselves.
I’m learning that my children are wired to respond to me. There is no such thing as “no reaction” in relationship chemistry. What I observe as negative in their behavior may have more to do with my leadership style than their lack of obedience.
Cooperation does not equal obedience.
Here are 4 helpful resources on the topic of “wiring” and behavior:
- ParentGuru.com – I’ve learned so much from Dr. John Rosemond.
- How the brain processes fear.
- The fight or flight portion of the brain.
- An overview of the brain’s communication.