So many of these tips simply require imagining a role reversal. To put yourself in the child’s shoes, just picture whoever is an authority/provider to you. For most of us, this is our boss. They tell us what to do, we do it, and then we get paid.
We often use the analogy of “the boss” to compare the parent-child relationship. When condemning spanking, we say “What if your boss hit you because he didn’t like how you did the job?” or regarding “time-outs”, how would they go over at your work place?
What we do suggest as negative consequences is the removal of privileges or incentives.
“You didn’t do your schoolwork, so I’m not taking you to the movies.”
“You hit your sister, we’re not playing with you.”
The important thing to remember is that these are FUTURE privileges. The “boss” analogy can help us determine what’s fair.
Imagine the following:
You’re expecting a big payday on Friday, because you’re earning a bonus for getting the project done under-budget. But at the last moment, you realize you made a major error with the order, and cost the company money. You didn’t meet the “under-budget” goal after all, and you don’t get the bonus.
Now imagine that Friday comes around, you did NOT make an error, and you find $500 extra on your paycheck that week. After the celebratory weekend you head back to work and later you make an error, and cost the company. Can they get the $500 back from you? Fat chance! The champagne and caviar store does not take refunds!
We’re all tempted to do it, too. We say, “Practice your spelling for 30 minutes and I’ll let you watch that 10 minute video”. She does a fine job with her spelling and goes out to play. She decides to make some of her famous “clay pots” on the porch again, and proceeds to smear mud all over the outdoor furniture. She comes back in, washes her hands, and says “I’m ready to watch that video now”…
Often the first thing that comes to mind is: “No way! Not until you clean the porch!” In your mind you’re sticking to the protocol of denying privileges as a consequence for leaving a mess. She throws a fit, you end up cleaning the porch, and everyone goes to bed unhappy.
What went wrong?
You took something she had already earned. She could clean it later. You could take some future privilege if she didn’t. You told her she could watch the video today, there were no other stipulations. In the adult world you’d be charged with fraud! And fraud, of course, is a violation of the NAP.
With this rule in place, we need to be extra careful about what it is our kids earn and own. If the cell phone belongs to them, you can’t just take it away when you’re mad. This is another reason why establishing clear property and usage rights upfront is a cornerstone of NAP parenting.