Dr. Kevin Leman is one of my favorite parenting experts. I love to hear him when he comes on Focus on the Family. His parenting advice is excellent and funny too.
One of his teachings is called Reality Discipline (he talks about it in his book, Making children mind without losing yours.) Reality discipline is based on letting your child suffer the natural consequences of their negative behaviors. For instance, your child doesn't do their homework, you let them go to school without it. Or, your child does not want to eat the dinner you cooked, you let them go to bed hungry.
Now, while I know Reality Discipline is not the answer to all of my parenting challenges, it is a great tool to have in my arsenal. To be quite honest, I have been patiently waiting to use it ever since I heard Dr. Leman talk about it. And last week, the opportunity arose.
It was about 5pm on Tuesday and our playroom was moderately messy. I pulled the boys in and told them we were going to do a quick clean up (it was seriously a 20 minute job if we all worked together). 30 minutes later, I was the only one who had cleaned up a thing. My boys were playing with toys, fighting, laying on the floor and doing everything but cleaning up. I fussed, I threatened, I may or may not have raised my voice. I was more than mad. But for some reason, I decided to get creative. First, I sent them to time out where they had to silently sit and watch me clean up. I took the liberty to trash and/or give away any items I wanted.
Then, while I was cleaning, I got an idea. I decided that the playroom would be closed for a few days since they had chosen not to clean it. I made sure that their DS' were in there too. I hung this sign on the door to remind them not to go in there.
The next day, Graham told our babysitter the story. He said, "...and she didn't spank us, it was worse. She closed the playroom." When I heard this, I was so happy. But today, I was proud, because the boys cleaned up with out very much headache remembering (hopefully) what their mother was capable of doing.