Friday, June 17, 2011

Best Dad Evar on Control

We have to jog a bit to catch up with our hero today. His two children are running ahead of him at what for them is running pace. The threesome are on their daily "walk". It's nice that it's summer and the sun is out later in the evening, but these walks are not kind to Best Dad Evar's forty year-old knees, especially when the two kids decide to run, run, run.

"Please stop running!" he shouts at a volume that would, for any reasonable person, indicate that he's really, really serious. The children give no indication that they've heard him. They don't turn around or pause their chugging legs. Luckily the girls are only six and three and they're not athletic enough to get very far away. Still, Best Dad Evar increases his pace to a run and catches up with the pair, grabbing each by an arm.
"Didn't you hear me say stop?!" He shouts at the two girls. They glance sheepishly at him ... but the look doesn't last. He let's go of their arms, feeling guilty himself for getting physical with them. They continue on their merry way, now skipping, as Best Dad Evar continues to walk behind them.

Mercifully, they soon arrive at the driveway of the family's suburban home. The girls run ahead, shouting "We're home!!" so loud that Best Dad Evar immediately thinks of his wife's tender ears, knowing they will be aggravated by this outburst and thus she will be annoyed by the time he opens the front door. So he lingers, leaning against the corner of the garage, his body and eyes turned toward the small, grassy yard. The yard bears a vague resemblance to a remote island beach ... in that it is littered with plastic bottles, plastic toys, trash, shoes and random lawn furniture.

He hears a voice, "Best Dad Evar, how do you control your children?"
"Control?!" he guffaws loudly. "You've got to be kidding me. They have little minds of their own, you can't control them."
"Okay, how about discipline?"
"Vince Lombardi couldn't discipline these two!" he says, chuckling softly at his own little inside joke, twisting the use of the word 'discipline'.
"Seriously, Best Dad Evar, how do you get your kids to behave?"
"Well, it all goes back to a Dr. Phil I happened to watch a few years ago. In it he said 'find their currency'."
"What does that mean?"
"Find the thing that is as important to your kid as money is to you, and then take it away if the kid doesn't do what you ask them to do."
"And that's what you do?"
"That's what I do. My parenting style is: threaten and take away."
"Does that work?"
"Well... yes, but..."
"But what?"
"What Dr. Phil didn't warn me about is that this method doesn't help your children recognize and properly respond to the tone of voice and actions you use to warn them when they're doing something stupid or dangerous. It also doesn't help them respect you enough to do what you ask without the threat."
"So you always have to threaten them."
"Bingo. Asking nicely does no good at all. I have to start with the threat and ramp up the intensity of the threat from there." He pauses, thinking. "Oh, and counting works."
"Yeah, I still can't fathom why. But when I say '1... 2... 3', they seem to instinctively know that when I get to three, I'm going to take a toy or a TV show away from them."
"Well at least you have that."
"Yes, but that still leaves the dangerous. The stupid, I can roll my eyes and deal with. The dangerous I'm still struggling with."
"So what have you come up with?"
"Tall fences, safety gates and keeping stuff waaaaaay up high."

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Joyce Lansky said...

I don't know what it is about counting, but that always worked with my kids too. Thank God it worked because I never was sure what I'd do had I gotten to three. LOL.

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Anonymous said...

When our three were young, I remember watching the service staff get 'that look' when we'd walk into a restaurant. I understood the look--I'd done my stint waiting tables and families with young kids aren't usually anyone's favorite people to wait on.

The kids were always well behaved, though--we'd have fun, but there were never any overboard shenanigans. Almost without fail, the server would compliment us as we were getting ready to leave, commenting about what a pleasure our kids were. My husband would smile and say, "we threatened them before we walked in the door," which was the truth. The very last thing he'd say before opening the door to go inside a restaurant was always, "Now remember, best behavior!" and by some miracle, they always complied. ;O)