Calm/Assertive Procedures like this one give kids two choices and two choices only. Kids can either:
Suffer the consequences of not being cooperative
Either way, we can be calm and empathetic because we do not allow this third option to exist:
Do whatever you want, develop bad behaviors, and become a person people don’t want to be around
The possibility of allowing choice C is what makes us angry, excitable, and sometimes irate because we love our kids and we know where kids who get to use choice C often end up.
Calm/Assertive Parenting Procedures like this one take into account all possible ways that kids will try to get to choice C. We stop those channels to C and reroute back to either choice A or B. We do this all without ever trying to control that which we cannot control.
Here We Go…
How often have parents had to drop everything and run a uniform, basketball shoes, or a permission slip to their kids at school, an event, or a game? Many parents realize that when they save their kids from the consequences of their own irresponsibility, they steal opportunities for growth and learning—but they do it anyway!
In most cases this is simply because the parent doesn’t want their kid to suffer by learning this lesson the hard way. This CAPP will show you how to effectively and empathetically allow your kid to suffer not having the thing they “need” (the nuclear option). It also gives another consequence for those parents who don’t want to make their kid not be able to cheer because they don’t have their uniform or miss the varsity game because they forgot their shoes. In addition, interventions will be included that can gently guide kids towards responsibility without nagging or reminding. Speaking of nagging and reminding…
What Not to Do
Never nag or remind. Doing so gives kids the false impression that remembering things is our responsibility. It is almost unfair to act like your kid remembering his soccer cleats is his parent’s responsibility and then hold him accountable for forgetting (almost).
Don’t use any anger or lectures or threats. If you are reading this, you probably already know what doesn’t work, so read on!
What to Do: Setting the Limit
Apologize for nagging and reminding in the past. Let your kid know that this won’t happen anymore. From now on, let them know that you will only take responsibility for your own stuff and that you will not help them in any way, since that would be taking responsibility for kid stuff.
What to Do: The Intervention
Interventions are ways to gently scaffold for kids in order for them to be successful. To “scaffold” means to give kids just enough support so that they can be successful with a task. Proper scaffolding involves giving the absolute minimum amount of support whereby the kid can still be successful. If we give too much support, the kid won’t struggle enough, and through struggle comes growth.
The older the kid, the less scaffolding necessary. If you feel that you are continually using this intervention and your kid is still forgetting items at home, stop using interventions and only use consequences.
Your intervention will be a simple question. If you notice your kid is about to walk out the door without an item that they will need, simply ask, “Are you forgetting anything?” Do not stop what you are doing for yourself and/or your home (getting dressed, cleaning dishes). Doing so tells your child that their preparedness for life is your problem. It isn’t. Don’t trick them into thinking that it is.
You can ask this more than once for younger kids (under 8 or so). Don’t repeat for kids older than 8.
If your kid gets the thing they almost forgot, great.
If they don’t, even better. They are giving themselves the natural consequence of forgetting something: They don’t have it.
What to Do: Consequence #1
This is the nuclear option. You may not have the heart for it. There will be a lot of pain involved, but this will mean that a lot of learning will take place.
When your kid calls you from the game, activity, or school, just refer to your previous conversation in which you promised not to nag or remind or help with any problems that are not your problems. Let them know that you care too much about them than to trick them into thinking that you will always be there to save them from every problem that they have, especially the problems, like their current one, that they have caused themselves. Any attempts to argue about the new way that you live your life can be met with a simple “Fair enough” and nothing else. Don’t say anything to this attempt to argue besides “Fair enough”. You may have to say “I love you” before hanging up the phone.
What to Do: Consequence #2
If you are not yet willing to go with consequence #1, you can use this consequence. You may use this one if you feel that your kid can learn to change her behavior with this amount of suffering. This may be the way to go if your kid forgot something extremely important: a science project worth 80% of her grade or basketball shoes on the day of the district championship.
This consequence is very simple: charge a delivery fee for bringing items to your child. Make it worth your while. Twenty dollars per half hour spent in transit is a fair price. If your kid has money, simply take it from their room and inform them of the charge. If they do not have money, take their possessions to the pawn shop and get the amount of money necessary. If you would like, you can have your child decide which items they would like to put towards this effort. They can either hand over items at home, or you can bring items to the pawn shop, and have your kid hand them over until you arrive at the pre-determined total. This can serve as a valuable learning experience. If you worry about your kid having too much of a meltdown, simply go with option “A”, and do the transaction yourself.
You can’t teach your kid responsibility with words and lectures. You can, however, allow them to learn responsibility through the suffering of consequences.