24 April, 2009

I killed the whinge with kindness

Yesterday afternoon my 9 y.o. came home with this note in his homework book: "Please have your son redo the cursive handwriting sheet. He refused to correct it in class." Hmmm. So, "Come and do your homework. You have this cursive handwriting to do." I barked as I started dinner preparation. "Oh, Muuuuuummmm. No fair. I don't want to." He shoved it onto the floor and grudgingly started his maths homework instead. "You have no choice. This is what your teacher requires you do it. No TV until you do." I stabbed the carrot with the knife, slicing it into rounds. "But it is so unimportant. Whyyyyyy?" "I'm not discussing this with you. We've talked about handwriting before. Do it." "Humf. (mumble, mumble)" "If you don't get it done before tea. You will not have reading time until it is done." I ordered. I wonder what consequence I can think up that will break the resistance? Chop, chop, chop. "Humf, humf..." came from the kitchen table. "Here are some carrots to give you some energy." I commented to my grumbler as I headed to give the rest to his brothers who were watching TV. (I frequently give raw vegetables to my boys during my meal preparation, it cuts down on grumbling and is healthy too. They love raw vegetables even more than cooked.) He made no comment, but continued to scribble his homework down. A little while later I cut open a packet of frozen beans to add to the vegetables already cooking, and knowing how much my oldest loves frozen beans, I handed him a couple, despite the continued grumbling. He immediately replied, "I don't know why you are being so kind to me." He then went on to complete all his homework without further complaints and indeed had a great attitude for the majority of the remaining three hours of his day! All of my consequence construction had not achieved was achieved by kindness. It was a very interesting response. Even more so when I reflected later on the similarities to comments by Martin Luther King Jr that I only read that morning as I re-read Yancey's "Soul Survivor". "A big danger for us is the temptation to follow the people we are opposing. They call us names, so we call them names..." p106 Of course the context is very different, but it made me wonder how often, in an effort to control my children, I end up using the same tactics as them. Ending up in the argument that they wanted me to have or I start mumbling and complaining, just like them. In yesterday's case, I'd set the limits, but continued to show love and kindness and it won the day. Something for me to ponder. I'll let you know if it works again!

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