Recently I have been reading a couple of different books that have talked, at least in part, about teaching appropriate behaviour through consequences rather than 'punishment'. The principle is that you can help children to change inappropriate behaviour in ways that maintain their self-respect as well as their respect for you and their emotional security. I have found what I've read to be really practical and easy to understand. It has also complimented what I have learned in my study related to emotional development in children.
Today I had the opportunity to put what I've learned in to practice. It was quite amusing actually.
My three year old has recently had a bit of regression as far as toilet training is concerned... She basically just won't go to the toilet until she's a bit wet already - which has meant many changes throughout the day and quite a stretch of my motherly patience. I've felt at a bit of a loss as to why it's happening and how to get her back on track, but I felt empowered today to be responsive as opposed to reactive.
Today we had been having a lovely afternoon - My younger daughter was napping and we had been enjoying playing a few games she has and had started on some craft when she had one of these accidents. When she had been to the toilet we discovered that there were no knickers left in the drawer. I neglected to mention that there was some in a clean laundry basket and calmly told her that she could put some pyjama pants on, we would need to pack up the craft, and then put her knickers in the wash. When the craft was packed up and I said it was time to do the washing her response was, "You wash the knickers, I will watch TV."
Ha! I had a chuckle to myself about that but calmly told her no, and that she needed to help me. When we were in the laundry and she was throwing things in the machine she noticed that "There's lots of knickers." We will see how things go in the next few days, but I am hopeful that if I can be less reactive to stressful parenting moments and respond to them in this way that we can negate the battles that have seemed unavoidable in the past.
In this moment, I am just grateful that a situation which would ordinarily have soured some nice time together turned out quite differently with a new perspective.