Stop pestering me!

Posted by Samantha on December 13, 2011 in Boundaries, Discipline, Parenting Dilemmas, Punishment |

I heard a good story recently about a Mum who used boundaries really effectively to improve a situation that involved two children, some manner of computer game and a lot of pestering.

It seems that this family worked out that the children would be allowed play the games console for a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon once all homework was completed and ready for school the next day.

So far, so good.

Of course, what actually happened was that the children began a version of “Can we play yet?” shortly after waking on Sunday.

Now the parents are being driven demented by the pestering.

After some weeks fielding her youngsters nagging, this mother decided that she was not willing to be pestered like that anymore.  She made it clear where her boundary was: if children behaved in a generally cooperative and non-pestering manner on Sundays then they would be able to play their game at 3pm.  She also made it clear that asking questions over and over again was not part of “generally cooperative” behaviour.

The result?  An end to pestering (on this issue!).

Why is this not simply threatening punishment – or ‘removal of privileges’ as punishment is more commonly referred to nowadays?

It’s a question of emphasis.  Boundaries emphasise the positive outcome of helpful behaviour.

Punishment emphasises the sanction that follows undesirable behaviour.

Yes, the end result is the same: if pestering happens, there will be no computer games that day.  But the route by which you get there is very different.

The other big difference between boundaries and punishment lies in the sentence “this mother decided that she was not willing to be pestered like that anymore”.

Boundaries are about YOU.

Punishment is about YOUR CHILDREN.

We enforce boundaries not with the express purpose of controlling and manipulating our children’s behaviour (a purpose of punishment) but to TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES.

Though we are not unaware of the beneficial secondary effect in terms of a change in our children’s behaviour!

It may seem minor this talk of “emphasis” when the end result is the same (pestering = no computer game).

I assure you the emphasis is not minor and the result is not the same.

Punishment creates resentment.  Boundaries generate respect.

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1 Comment

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