By Emory Luce Baldwin, LCMFT, Certified PEP Parent Educator
Logical Consequences didn’t come easily to me (see Part 1), but by copying examples from my PEP class leaders I was getting some encouraging results and feeling more confident—less like a Monster Mommy and more like a Sane, Calm Mommy. But I still yearned to craft a Logical Consequence of my very own.
Luckily, my on-site parenting coaches (aka, my children) gave me more opportunities to practice. One day, while fixing a nutritious yet tasty lunch in the kitchen, I heard my darling daughter and her equally darling friend laughing wildly upstairs. In a hurry to give them lunch before taking them to preschool, I waited until I was home again to check out what had taken place in her room.
It was a total shambles. Every toy and book was on the floor. Every item of clothing was emptied out of drawers and the closet. I’d heard that drunken rock stars get up to such shenanigans in their hotel rooms, but I never imagined I’d see a pink and purple version of such debauchery in my own home.
Fortunately, I had three hours to restart my breathing and refresh my brain before the little darling came home again. When she did, I ready for her. I coolly invited her into her room with two very large black plastic trash bags and me.
“I’m so very sorry,” I said softly. (Respectful: That was R number one!) “We gave you too many nice things here in your room, and there was too much for you to take care of.
“So let’s put most of it away where it will be safe until you are ready to take care of your belongings again.” (Related: Belongings not taken care of, so belongings leave room. R number two, yea!)
“Are you going to throw my toys and stuff away?!” cried Little Darling, reasonably afraid of punishment.
“No. We’ll keep your things safe in the basement. We aren’t throwing your stuff away.” (Reasonable: I nailed R number three!)
“When do I get my stuff back again?”
“You can keep three sets of clothing in here, and three toys and three books. If you can take good care of these belongings, and when you think you are ready for more responsibility, every few days we can bring back three more things.” (Promoting Responsibility: I did it! I nailed all four R’s!)
In retrospect, what surprised me the most, beyond discovering I was capable of previously unknown levels of elegant civility when faced with stupefyingly naughty misbehavior, was how much I was enjoying the experience by the time we finished bagging everything up. Yes, I had given up the sense of power that comes from nagging, threatening and yelling. In return, I found a marvelous sense of self-control and self-respect that served both my child and me very well.