Since spanking wasn’t effective with my son, I began learning about parenting with logical consequences. The consequence must be related or appropriate to what the problem is. In other words, you don’t take away TV privileges for coming home late. A logical consequence of coming home late from a friend’s house is not being able to go to a friend’s house! A logical consequence of not riding your bike safely, is not being able to ride your bike!
We lived on a street that was about three blocks long, no cross streets or intersections. This was pretty safe for young children to ride their bikes, skateboard, etc. BJ was about 5 or 6, and I think in his first year of riding a two wheeler. I gave firm instructions that he could ride his bike two blocks to the corner, and then turn around. DO NOT go around the corner because I cannot see you. I repeated this several times. I watched the first time or two, and then went inside and watched from the living room window. It was not long, and he didn’t return. I walked out to the curb… looked down the street… no BJ! Before I could walk the two blocks down to the end, around the corner he came, pedaling hard. Grrrrrrrr …
The consequence for going around the corner, was not being able to ride his bike for a week.
After a week, the bike came out, I went thru the same pep talk. You can ride up and down, up and down, up and down, but DO NOT go around the corner. Within a half hour, he went around the corner. The bike was put up again.
I could not simply put the bike in the garage… as he would try to sneak it out. I had to suspend it in the air with a rope. One day, I found him in the garage with a neighbor kid, standing on a chair, trying to untie the rope. Thankfully, I caught them or they both might have brain damage from a falling bike! Sorry, but another week was added to the consequence for trying to untie the bike. Two more weeks pass without riding his bike. Oh my, how he howled!
Finally, two weeks are up, and BJ gets to ride his bike! Mom is excited too! I get down to his level, look him in the eye and say, “ok son, you can ride your bike, up and down, up and down, up an down, but DO NOT go around the corner! Do you understand? Do you understand that your bike will be put up again if you go around the corner? “ “Yes mom,” he nodded his little head. I breathed a sigh of relief. My precious pumpkin, his sweet smile and the light in his eyes gave me hope. He’s finally learned his lesson! “Go to it son! Enjoy your bike! Remember, DON”T go around the corner!”
“No mama, I won’t.”
An hour later, I look out the window, no BJ. I walk out to the curb, no BJ! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
I walk down and around the corner, there he is, a few houses away, playing in a yard with another child. Exasperated, I picked up his bike and walked it back to our house. He came running after me, crying the whole way. The tears ran down my face as I took his bike to the basement and suspended it from the ceiling.
The bike stayed in the basement for a whole summer month that time. Parenting is exhausting… but we can’t give up. Their future depends on our persistence. They don’t call it “tough love” for nothing.
dr pers ©2007