This was the best morning, playing with the toys, sharing with our brother, laughing together, playing tag and mom even got to fold clothes in peace. It was so enjoyable for the first 2 hours. It was time to pickup the toys, get the boys into their clothes and head out to the park. I asked the boys to put away their toys in the toy box. Nothing. James kept running around and Lance was sitting on the couch surrounded by toys. The sense of entitlement from the boys was rearing up as they expected me to do the cleanup. My first instinct was to nag and remind the boys to pickup. How many times do we as mothers ask, beg and plead until we are just exhausted or all out mad?
I’ve been working on a new discipline technique, Love & Logic. Gone are the days of begging, I wouldn’t beg from anyone else so I’m not going to do it with my children either. Love & Logic works on the premise of telling your children once then if disobeyed there is a natural consequence that follows. Ever since I started this technique, small consequences have generally worked but today there was flat-out ignoring the directions and looking at me like “what are you going to do about it!?!!!” Well I certainly did something about it. I told the boys that mommy would wear herself out if she had to put away all the toys so every toy that I put away would be put up and not played with for the rest of the day. I don’t know if they thought I was joking, but neither boy budged. So I said in my saddest voice, “That’s so sad”, up the toys went and I put the whole toy box over on the other side of the gate. I really thought that they would be upset. They weren’t. Lance just looked up at me and said the classic Love & Logic phrase of “That’s so sad” right back to me and then added I’m sorry. He hopped off the couch and off the two boys went to play happily with each other.
I sat down in a huff. Those boys should have fallen all over me and cried about their toys. How dare them not have a physical reaction to my discipline! Is this approach not working? Then I remembered that the goal of discipline is to correct a problem, not just inflict pain. Lance had gotten the message. He said it was sad. He repented. That’s what I wanted, right? I needed that reminder today about forgiveness, repentance and discipline. It doesn’t have to be mean, loud, long, disruptive or even tearful. Wow, to think what my life would be like if all my correction went that well! I got over myself and then I thought, oh no! There’s no toys for later today when we get back from the park, this day is going to get ugly fast. I found quite the opposite. My twins always have a built-in playmate. They chose to utilize that today. They played ring around the rosies, chase, red light/green light, emptied the silverware from the dishwasher, pretended to fix the door and patch the wall and sang together all with loads of laughter. I would not expect that I could do this day in and day out without them getting bored and into serious trouble. They can, on occasions though, just use their imaginations for play like they did today. So when the ugly attitude of entitlement creeps in and the boys just won’t mind, I think this little trick of all the toys going away, just might be the best thing after all. No toys as a punishment does not always mean a bad day for everyone.