The Truth of Consequences

just a minute!

Whether it is arranging fifteen tiny creatures on chairs in an obsessively straight row or having to change into the sparkly Hello Kitty underwear, there is always some reason we are late.

Little Girl wanted to go to Library Story Time today. Or so she said. Like every other time we try to get out of the house, a thousand things were more important than getting ready. I leave plenty of time for the usual culprits: lengthy bathroom trips, taking a long time to put on her own clothes, diaper situations from Little Guy, etc. However, she always manages to fixate on something just as we’re going out the door, making it difficult or impossible to leave on time.

Last week, we were really late to story time; the made-it-just-in-time for the last half of the last story kind of late. In the car on the way over, and after story time I reiterated that she made a choice to be late by not listening to me and doing what I said right away.

Well, this week she said that she was going to choose to be on time. She was getting ready like a champ; she ate breakfast, went to the bathroom, let me brush her hair, got dressed, and I was just telling her to put on her shoes when she needed to arrange all of her tiny animals on every piece of dollhouse furniture she had. “Just a minute, Mommy!” she said. I told her calmly that she needed to put on her shoes right now or we would be late, and possibly miss the whole thing. Then I went downstairs to get ready.

I strapped Little Guy into his carseat, put on my coat and shoes, and looked at the clock. We would just be on time. Still no Little Girl. I gave her one more reminder, and then did a load of laundry. And a load of dishes. Still no Little Girl. Then I realized that today was an excellent time to teach consequences with something more painful than just being late: missing out on an event (made all the better because we didn’t have to go). I took my coat off, took Little Guy out of his carseat and let him crawl around on the floor while I cleaned up some more. Little Girl came down after fifteen minutes and said she was ready to go.

“We can’t,” I said. “You chose not to listen to me when I said we had to go, and the consequence is that we missed Story Time.” I cleaned some more during the inevitable crying and gnashing of teeth until the storm was over, and then we talked about it. She agreed that in the future she will listen to me the first time. I think she is starting to understand that her choices have consequences. We’ll see what happens tomorrow when we try again to leave the house!

How do you/would you teach consequences? Do you think that this was enough of a lesson that she will remember it?



3 thoughts on “The Truth of Consequences

  1. This is a great example of what will be (hypothetically) happening when she has to get ready for school. (I don’t know if you’re planning on homeschooling or not.) Kids love to get distracted and have no reference of time. If we push they push back harder. I have one child who loves getting ready in the morning and one child who requires lots of encouragement. So what I’ve learned is that you have to have everything layed out, packed and done the night before. Do only what is necessary for the morning. If you have to get somewhere by x time, get up and get moving yourself earlier. Sometimes setting a timer for the kids works. If they want to play say ok, when the timer goes off, that’s it. Then you pick them up and carry them to the car and if you have to put their shoes and socks on when you get to wherever you’re going. It does get easier when they are a little older and they can get excited once they know how great it is to arrive somewhere on time and what it means to see their friends and play. Keep trying! Keep taking them to story hour and other places!

  2. Pingback: Magical Moments | No Telly, No Trouble

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