Using consequences with a little toy-thrower

Posted by Samantha on June 15, 2012 in Anger, Boundaries, Consequences, Discipline, Empathy, Rules |

Yesterday I heard a great real life example of how boundaries, backed up with fair and reasonable consequences for violating them, provide a sense of safety for children, which results in improved behaviour.

Borrowing an idea that had worked for another parent, this Mom told her young boy – who has developed a habit of throwing toys around, specifically aiming them at his younger brother – that if he did this in future the consequence would be that she would put a stair-gate on his open bedroom door, put him in the bedroom and he could throw the toys in his room if he still wanted to throw toys.

Since then, she has had to issue one reminder, which immediately resulted in a cease-fire.

She is amazed and relieved (especially as she’s not sure that she will even know how to get the borrowed stair-gate in position should it become necessary to do so!).




This solution is a good example of a BeyondSupernanny approach.  The parent takes physical action to limit inappropriate behaviour without shaming the child, by labelling them naughty or punitively banishing them to a naughty step or any other “time out” place.  The parent is firmly in their role as the authority and leader within the home.  The action is taken with a view to safety and leading the child towards a more healthy, functional expression of his emotions.  It is respectful.  It is gentle yet strong.

If this consequence is accompanied with empathy while it is being carried out, it gets even better:

e.g. “I see you’re getting really frustrated with your brother for knocking over your game, but I will not allow you throw toys at him and hurt him, if you want to continue throwing toys I will put the stair gate on your bedroom and you can go there to throw toys…..”

The child can then be shown more functional ways of expressing his frustration with his brother, e.g. by expressing his irritation to Mom and being heard and understood about how difficult and annoying it can sometimes be to have a younger sibling!

Remember – if one child comes to you with a complaint about a sibling, you don’t have to fix it for them.  Your children will work it out between themselves if you leave them to it (and take care to give them some tools like negotiation and compromise, problem-solving, expressing honest emotions, making “I statements”, walking away, etc).

Only intervene – as this Mom did – if someone’s safety is threatened!  You are the comforter, the safe haven, the listening ear.  Believe me, it’s a nicer role than the fixer.  Unfortunately, the role of fixer tends to intensify the sibling woes it’s supposed to be addressing.

These boys are now well on their way to having a better relationship with each other and with their mother.


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