Since his seventh birthday I've really noticed how grown up my little boy has become. He is really starting to take things into his own hands when it comes to behaviour of his parents that he doesn't like!!!
Ever since he was four, whenever Yannick showed behaviour that I didn't find very friendly, I have made a point of asking him whether HE would like to be treated like that by me or others. He's always responded well to that cue, thought about it, and over the years this has taught him to stop in his tracks and if possible to apologise and start over in a nicer way.
Recently I have noticed that Yannick is actually using that method on me and Frank! And very effectively too! As some of you know when I'm grumpy (especially when I'm hungry) I tend to growl (especially when I feel stressed by something). Yannick doesn't like that and these days always asks ME whether I would like to be treated like that by him! Stops me right there, and I apologise and start over.
Yesterday he surprised me even more. Twice.
After school he told me that the teachers had been asking what methods of punishment parents use on the pupils in his class to get them to behave right (I am sure they worded it slightly differently!). He gave me some examples (that I don't want to repeat) and then I asked him what HE said. His reply was 'nothing'. At first I thought I misheard as I thought he meant that he didn't say anything, but, yes, he meant that I do nothing. Hm. That sounded wrong and weak! I quickly thought about it and yes, in a way it is true as I don't 'punish' as such. So my answer to him was 'we talk about it, don't we?' and he agreed. And that is what we do. We talk about it and try to come up with ideas for better behaviour for the next time when he feels the urge to behave in a certain way again. Sometimes I have to give him a bit of a push by saying that he cannot do something as much as he likes to if a certain kind of behaviour doesn't stop – but we never ever get to the point anymore that I have to enforce this threat. I am also always trying to tell him why I want him to do things in a certain way so that he understand my requests better. Of course he is not a model child and sometimes I let the reins slip a bit simply so that he can get a little silly and mad; he is such a cautious and composed child normally, he needs that!
We used to use the 'naughty step' when he was much smaller but these days I really don't like this kind of thing as in my mind it doesn't teach a child very much apart from that when I don't like your behaviour I don't want to see you. I believe in modelling the behaviours I want to see in him and thinking about alternatives together. Not that I am always doing the right thing – but we are pushing each other into the direction of mutual respect that we both want. I saw that clearly when this happened:
Again yesterday, Yannick was playing on the iPad and got hungry. So out came for the fourth time and slightly impatient 'I'm hungry'. As I had served him some snacks already I realised it was time for tea but I was busy myself trying to figure something out for him(!) about how something web related worked (don't ask!), and I didn't like his tone, so I just growled back 'so do something about it'. He went off to find some sweets from my bag which I wasn't happy with either so I intervened and said 'no, it's time for tea, leave that alone'. This lead to more bickering from both sides while we were in the kitchen trying to sort out a sandwich. All the bickering got me so cross that I started with 'I'm going to be really cross…' when he stopped me and said 'mummy, let's stop this and forget everything, let's not talk about this anymore'. This surprised me so much that I completely snapped out of my mood! He did too and the evening was just fine after that!
Somehow he must have realised that this argument was really about nothing. I was very impressed!