Growing, Not Dying

Welcome to my insights, ponderings, and experiences. Hopefully they will enrich you in some small way, or at least make you laugh.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Game of Chance

Many people today comment how "children today are so much smarter than they use to be." I truely believe that. My oldest son (now 7 yrs) was walking at 9 months old and using sentences at a year. He has always been a very grown up spirit in a small body. He has never understood why there are different rules for him than for the adults. Authority, especially "because I said so," is a waste of energy. If he doesn't understand 'why' he will do whatever he feels like. I have spent a lot of wasted years and energy trying to "make him obey." It is far better to show him his choices, explain the probably outcomes, and then let him decide. It takes a lot more time and quite often he decides to do something that he later regrets. Still, it involves a lot less yelling on my part.

The only exceptions are safety issues, his or others. Usually he will conform simply because he sees it is very urgently important to me. Other times I have to give him a mini-lesson. For instance for a while when he was about 4 he kept taking his seat belt off. It was too constricting. So, following my best friend's example, I hit the brakes hard while driving all of 5-10 mph. It was enough to through him forward in his seat. It took 4 or 5 times before he "got it."

Other times there is no way to give a lesson and he'll do it anyway. He came home one day from a friend's house and told us the older kids (teenagers) were jumping off the swingset onto the trampoline. We talked about how they could get hurt. He was the one telling us how dangerous it was. After talking I was almost sure he was going to go back and give those kids an earful. The next day he came hom missing some skin off his leg and in tears. He was hurt pretty bad, but more so was confused. He had jumped off the swingset onto the tramp. I reminded him we talked about this yesterday. His response was, "But Mom, I didn't get hurt the first time."

I spent a lot of time trying to think of how to help him "get it." Here's what I was inspired to do. Maybe it will help someone else out there too. I got a dice out. I asked him to roll it. Then i asked him if he would get the same number the next time. Then I had him roll it again. We did this several times until he was giggling. Then I asked him if he could roll a six. Well, of course he couldn't do it on purpose, but we agreed there was a chance it might be a six and if we rolled it enough times we would definitely get a six eventually. I told him doing things like jumping off the swingset is like rolling the dice. There is no way to know if you will get hurt the first time, but it if you never roll the dice, you can never get a six. So now when there is something I think he might get hurt at I remind him it's like rolling the dice and he answers, "and if you don't roll you can't get hurt."

Now, just to reassure those of you who think I may be teaching my son not to take risks, he still weighs his options like: what are the odds of it "being a six," how badly might he get hurt, could someone else get hurt, or how much trouble will he be in with Mom, and then decides to go ahead and do it anyway. Often he just figures the payoff is worth the consequence. I'm finally learning to let go and accept I can not/ don't want to physically control him. Thus the best I can do is teach him and let him live with the consequences of his choices in the most loving way I can muster.


Blogger HollyTheWanderer said...

I like that dice one. That would make a good family home evening.

Fri Mar 25, 09:09:00 PM MST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probability, logic, thinking and discipline all in one lesson. Very neat!

Sun Mar 27, 10:47:00 AM MST  

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