Do your kids respond to your no? Do they understand the law of sewing and reaping?

My family recently visited a neighborhood playground, and my kids jetted by the playground equipment to the creek. Exploring the rocks and trickling water enthralled them. I have so many memories playing in a creek as a little girl so when my children experience that same joy it brings a smile to my face.
A nine-year old boy also ran to the creek with his friend. His mom chased after him, begging him not to walk along the creek rocks, but he kept on. Anger rose on the mom’s face and she yelled, “Get back here now!” He kept on. She screamed, “No. I don’t want you in there. Your shoes will get all wet and I don’t have a change of clothes. Get out!” The boy was not phased. He kept on, completely ignoring her, and not even glancing up.
When she yelled, “NO!” ten more times, he did not flinch, but continued circling the creek–not a care in the world and not an inch of respect for his mother. The disrespect that oozed from this boy made my skin crawl; he acted as though she was invisible. The most excruciating part was that the mom continued conversations with her friend, avoiding his actions.
After a while, when he ventured further on the rocks, she yelled, “No!” once again and finally threatened to take away his electronics. Then counted down from five and said under her breath, “Okay, you lost your electronics.” When he climbed out of the creek a while later on his own accord, she laid into him, “Now you have wet socks and shoes!” That seemed to be her greatest frustration. Not the disrespect.
I know there might be more to the story than I saw, but the boy’s mom clearly had the expectation that her son would respond to her. As parents we all have weak moments and times when our children will challenge our boundaries and push our limits–that is their job. I can attest to that. But, if we don’t give immediate consequences for disrespect, it will continue. This is a constant area I am working on. For children who deal with autism and other diagnoses, what works might be completely different than what is suggested here.

In the book, “Boundaries with Kids,” Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend share, “Children can handle the logical consequences of their mistakes, like a timeout, loss of TV privileges, or loss of a trip to the mall, much better than they can handle relational consequences like anger, guilt, shame, condemnation, or abandonment.”

In other words, yelling and harsh words get us nowhere, but consequences do. “If your boundary training consist only of words, you are wasting your breath. But if you “do” boundaries with your kids, they remember them.” (Cloud and Townsend)
As we find practical and logical consequences when our children don’t do what is asked, and praise them for times they do, our children will gain confidence and freedom in realizing that they are responsible for their choices.
Cloud and Townsend also share, “This is the lesson consequences teach a child. ‘My behavior becomes a problem for me.’

Too many times, children’s behavior does not become a problem for them. It does not cost them things they value. Consequences provide… motivation.”

It’s easy to feel harsh if we don’t let our children join a family outing because of not completing a chore. But if they are old enough and know what needs to be done before a certain time, and they don’t complete it, not allowing them to come is far more powerful than nagging. The next time your child is asked to complete a chore, they will know you mean business the first time and that the choice is up to them.

If we are exhausted from asking our children umpteen times to do something, this book teaches that we should take a look at ourselves.

What consequences are in place if they don’t follow through? What will they lose if they don’t respect our boundaries? And, do we praise them when they do respect them?
Enforcing boundaries is the quickest and healthiest way to teach the law of sewing and reaping to our children. They will experience this concept in the real world, so let’s teach it to our children now so one day they will become independent and responsible adults.

Boundaries will allow our children to understand that our “No” matters–that our “No” means “No” and that our “Yes” means “Yes”. How are you helping your children to listen and respect your “No”?

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