Do you want your teenager to trust you? When he finds himself in a dangerous situation, do you want him to know he can count on you? When she has a problem and doesn’t know what to do, do you want her to be down-deep sure that you are in her corner, with her best interests at heart?
Good news! Time-outs today build trust tomorrow.
“If you dump your juice again, you may only have water and you will clean it up.” Giving him water and a towel to clean the mess teaches good manners. And it teaches that you will do what you say you will do. Every time.
“If you stack the toys on your sleeping sister one more time, we’re going home.” Going home teaches that she should respect and care for her sister. And it teaches that you protect your children.
“If you don’t put your homework in your backpack, you’re not going to get credit for it tomorrow.” Responding calmly to the frantic text message from school the next day and not bringing the homework to school teaches your child to finish a job before moving on. And it teaches that you have the big picture in mind, and can make decisions without getting sucked into the drama.
“If you or your ride have been drinking, I will help you get home safely at any time.” Showing up (without yelling) to take your kid and friends home and withholding the consequences til the morning prove that safety is the first priority. And it teaches that you can be relied upon.
It’s never too late to start demonstrating to our children just how reliable we are. Not reliable to freak out when they freak out, but reliable to be the grown up.
Every time you discipline your child with a lesson and a consequence, you are also teaching this most important and sometimes life-saving lesson, “You can count on me.”