Unintended Consequences: How one mom’s quest to teach backfired

Written by Tiffany

As my parents guided my brother and I toward adulthood, one of the lessons they taught us was the power of decision making.  They taught us the importance of weighing the choices, considering the consequences and making the best decision possible given the available facts.  The understanding was that once the choice was made, my brother and I were responsible for dealing with the consequences.  There would be no drama or the decision making power we had been granted would be revoked.

This is a lesson I am trying to teach my six year old Alex.   I gave him the option of deciding if he wanted to play outside with his friends before his homework or to do his homework first and play.

We talked through the options.  He decided to play first.  I gently suggested that maybe he should do his homework first so that he didn’t have to worry about it.  He told me that he wanted to play and would do his homework afterward.

I firmly reminded him that I wanted no argument when it was time for homework.  He smiled and agreed.  Choice made.

Homework time arrived and Alex came in from play.  His assignment was to take the week’s spelling words and write each of them in a sentence.  The words were bucket, milk and problem.

We reviewed the assignment and I began dinner preparations .  I looked over and saw Alex staring at his paper.  His jaw firmly set.

“What’s up?”  I asked casually.

“I can’t think of anything!”  he remarked.

“How about writing that you like chocolate milk?”  I asked.  He looked at me like I had four heads. “ I don’t know how to spell chocolate” he panicked.  Translation – chocolate is too long of a word and I don’t want to write it.  I felt my eyebrow inch upward.

Pressing on I said, “How about writing there’s a hole in my bucket?”  Yes, I did mutter “Dear Liza, Dear Liza” after saying this.

“I don’t like that!”  Alex stated his voice rising into what I refer to as the “whiny octave.”  “I can’t think of anything!”  he pouted.  My eyebrow inched further upward.

“Look, buddy” I stated “You agreed to do homework with no drama tonight.  Are you going to freak out about this assignment and throw a fit?”

“Well, yes!”  He yelled “I am!”

Eyebrow firmly arched, I debated my options.  We were entering the “danger zone.”   I could make him sit there and do the homework or I could send him to his room.

I pointed toward his room.  This gesture means go to your room and don’t even think about coming out until you have given yourself an attitude adjustment.

Alex glared at me for a moment and then stalked away stomping upstairs.  I was in the middle of shouting “And don’t even think about . . .”  When boom the door slammed.  “Slamming the door!” I finished.

I followed him upstairs, chastised him for slamming the door (I might have said something about doors being a privilege and how I could remove it from the hinges) , told him to never look at me that way again (I might have asked him if he had any clue what his Grandma and Papa would have done if I had dared given them that look) and reminded him to stay in his room until he could act properly.

Several minutes later he came downstairs contritely and sat quietly at the table.  He began writing.  I wandered over to look at his paper and saw that he had written a sentence for the word “problem.”  The sentence read, “I had a problem with my mom.”

It was written beautifully.  The letters were formed perfectly and there were no spelling errors.

He looked at me (I think rather smugly) with a sly smile.

“Well, buddy”  I replied.  “I guess you did.”

And we laughed and all was right again.

I guess I hadn’t planned on his sentence to be my consequence for my decision to send him to his room!

About Tiffany

Tiffany is the mother of a curly haired six year old boy who wants to be Batman when he grows up! When she is not engaged in an intense light saber battle, watching Transformers (cartoons and movies), asking her child not to jump from the top step or being told, “you’re playing action figures the wrong way, mom” she contemplates how wonderful it would be if her child were a twin or triplet.  Tiffany is the Human Resources Manager for Step2.

  1. I have to say your household reminds me SO much of my own! I have two girls 10 and 7 and I cannot begin to tell you how many of those exact moments I have had! Kids are sometimes more sarcastic than us adults and many times our discipline backfires on us but in the end we always win (or so we like to think) in your case he did his homework which you wanted – WIN! This gave me a great Monday morning chuckle!

  2. That’s funny 🙂 Regardless of the “backfire,” I probably would have parented the same way 🙂

  3. ive also had a few hiccups with my son but i just keep telling hm pratice spelling when playing with him thats what ive done sice he could walk like lets check the mail and id spell mail good job mom keep it up

  4. Well he finished his assignment and you both laughed at the end. I hope that’s how me and my boys finish disagreements when they are older.Cute!

  5. LOL! Good that there was a great ending. I hope the homework deal has worked out better in future tries!

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