Dear Kid Whisperer,
In the past, my son Tyler tended to be pretty peaceful, but as the summer has begun, he has started some kind of rivalry with our neighbor, Stephen. My son is six and Stephen is five. They argue so much that I won’t let my son play with Stephen anymore. So yesterday I heard screaming and I came outside to find my son standing at the edge of my yard screaming through our fence at Stephen. He was using a couple of four letter words that he had learned from his father. I yelled at him to come inside. He ignored me. I had to come outside and carry him back into the house. It took him a few minutes to calm down. I don’t know if I handled that correctly, but I think the more important question is what do I do now? I have read your blog and I have gone to your workshops, so I knew to delay the consequence and not punish him, but I don’t know what that consequence should be. Help me!
Tammy, Troy, Ohio
(Names have been changed to protect the little annoying children in question)
Yes, let’s concentrate on what to do post-outburst. Congratulate yourself for not reacting and understanding that you did not have to give a consequence immediately. You did not know what to do in that situation, so you didn’t try to do it. Good work! Landmine #1 averted.
Now you are in a good place: you are figuring out what to do when the kid isn’t around and when you have the time and mental energy to think of a consequence that is reasonable and logical. Let me show you how I would handle this. Feel free to try this out.
I would wait until everything is going well and deliver my Love and Logic® response. I would wait until the next day when it is time for little Stevie to go out to play. I would say the following calmly and without malice or sarcasm.
Kid Whisperer: Hey, buddy. I was just thinking about that outburst you had with Tyler yesterday. Yikes. Those words you used! Sheesh. It really made me feel sad and embarrassed for you and for our family.
Kid: I don’t care!
Kid Whisperer: How sad not to care. I’ll tell you what. I don’t like feeling sad and embarrassed, and I’m afraid that if you go outside this house, you may do something else that makes me feel sad and embarrassed. I’m going to be watching what kind of choices you make here inside the house, and when I feel like I don’t have to worry about being sad and embarrassed by you, you can go outside of the house.
Kid: That’s not fair!!!
Kid Whisperer: I know. Your brother and I are going to go get ice cream. Dad will be staying with you.
Kid: But I want ice cream! I want ice cream NOW!
Kid Whisperer: I know. I’ll be happy to be seen with you in public when I feel confident that you won’t make me feel sad and embarrassed like you are doing right now.
Kid: How long will that be?
Kid Whisperer: Won’t it be fun to find out? I love you and I’ll see you soon.
Notice that I never used anger, threats, warnings or lectures? I was calm, loving and strict! I let him know with what I said and by how I said it that this problem was his, not mine! I set a limit once and didn’t let his “noise” get me off track! I hope this can help.
-The Kid Whisperer