Discipline is such an important part of raising responsible adults. Children should learn two lessons – where the boundaries are and the consequences for their decisions. My mom didn’t do much spanking, but you knew that it was always a viable option. The thing that she used to do that was just as effective was to give us instructions through clinched teeth. You knew that was your final opportunity before she was going to blow. You had two choices - March or Die!
Establishing the Law
Children will grow old on their own, but not necessarily mature. Your guidance is needed to train them to make responsible decisions. Our fireplace separates the dining room from the living room and the fellas loved to chase each other around the fireplace. My youngest retells the story of him running around our fireplace one evening. I told him to stop running once. He slowed down, but started running again. I called him by his first and middle name and reiterated the need for him to stop running…Okay ma. He started up again and in his words “and then you came out of nowhere ma. You grabbed me and said (through clinched teeth and slow cadence) I said to stop running! The shock of not seeing you coming was enough to make me stop and we didn’t have to have that conversation again.” I found that looking my guys straight in the eye, and speaking distinctly through clinched teeth was very effective. Definitely a teachable moment!
We typically spent most of the day at the ballpark or racing from the ballpark to the soccer field so by the end of the day, I was pretty worn out. This particular day my oldest, who was about 8 years old, wanted to stay to scout a team they would be playing next week. He asked nicely if we could stay at the park. I told him that I was tired and that we needed to leave. I think he thought if he just started watching the game, I would wait for him. I gathered my two other children, got in the car and went home. On the ride home the guys kept asking were we really leaving their brother. Sure enough we soon get a call with a shocked voice on the other end “Mom, you left me!” As the fellas got older, they shared how impactful that single act was on them. Never again was there any doubt that when the Valentine-mobile was leaving, all occupants needed to be onboard. This lesson was learned so well that even if I was just going to get something out of the car, all three would come running from all corners of the park. It was funny listening to them explain the law to their friends who were riding with us. They knew to move quickly if they didn’t want to get left.
Seize any opportunity to reinforce the law. When we saw children misbehaving in public, I would look at my three and say “We don’t act like that, do we?” The same goes for college players who are ineligible due to grades. When I hear those announcements I can only imagine how embarrassed their poor player’s parents are. It was bad enough that they weren’t passing, but to have the whole nation know – UGH.
Finally I want to finish this post with a story about JR Rider. He was an NBA player with the Timberwolves in 1996. The Timberwolves mothers were dressed up and enjoying the game together. JR was playing well but committed two technical fouls. He was ejected from the game, but wouldn’t leave the court…it was a teachable moment. JR’s mother had to get up out of her seat, in front of a national audience, with her good hat on to tell the child to get off of the court. I was mortified for her. When he saw his mom moving in his direction, he started making his way off of the court. We never heard anything that she was saying to him, but I can just envision her coming at him with her teeth clinched!