Have you ever wondered, “Oh, great. What do I do with this kid now?”
A dad shared his story. His simple rule about driving was: “Feel free to drive as long as it doesn’t cause a problem for anyone on the planet.”
His son, Justin, missed curfew.
Meeting him at the door, Dad said, “I’m so relieved you are okay. I’m going to do something about this problem… but not now… later. Try not to worry.”
Justin responded, “Cool.”
The next day wasn’t so “cool” for Justin. When he asked to use the car, Dad said, “This is so sad… no.”
Justin asked, “But why?”
Dad answered, “I suppose when I am really sure that there won’t be a problem with you following the rules of the home, I’ll be more confident that you can follow the rules of the road.”
How did Dad handle this so well? He bought himself time by delaying the consequence.
From Principal Boyd:
Yesterday I had a discussion with a young man about some vocabulary used in school, if you get my drift. At the conclusion he said, “Great, I will be grounded another month.”
Two things came to mind. One, I encouraged him to focus on the people impacted by his language and the fall out rather than what the impact was for him.
Secondly, I prayed that the parent would take some time, think, consult, and pray before responding with a consequence at home. I hoped that instead of instantly applying an old standby consequence (that apparently was not working too well anyway) that they would realize that doing some planning could yield a consequence that would be meaningful and effective for this young man.
Delaying consequences is a great tool for parents and teachers. It gives us a chance to make the response fit the situation. It gives us a chance to shift from assessing the effectiveness of a consequence simply in terms of the pain it causes and think more about the message sent and lesson to be learned. And, yes, it could give us a chance to use the consequence to help the child see the impact of choices on other people rather than just the impact on them.
Following our Lord’s lead in being slow to anger allows us to realize that thoughtful, planned consequences are a true example of love and faithfulness.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15 New International Version (NIV)
In His Children’s Service, Robert C. Boyd