Monday, July 12, 2010

Oh No, Daddy!

            I’ve had the opportunity to try my hand at this new method of discipline a few times over the last couple of weeks, since reading about not using punishment per se. It requires a lot more creativity and quick thinking, but my overall verdict is that it seems totally doable. If Celia throws the cherry pits on the floor, we simply say, “Oops. That made a mess. Now let’s pick them up. That’s what we do when we make a mess.” And we get her to help. It’s pretty commonsense, and she rarely complains because she knows she just made that mess when she wasn’t supposed to.
            A few days ago I was washing dishes and she was around the corner in the bathroom standing on a chair washing her hands. I figured she couldn’t do much harm there, and I really wanted to have a clean kitchen so I left her alone for awhile.
            Then, she said the dreaded sentence. “Oh no, Daddy! Wet!”
            I instantly shut off the water and went racing into the bathroom.
            The sink was completely flooded with scalding hot water, Celia was drenched, and water was everywhere on the floor. I ran in to shut the water off. As I neared the sink I noticed the cause of all this commotion – toilet paper was circling around in huge wads, clogging the drain and whirling around wildly.
            I started thinking on my feet. No use yelling or scolding her. I needed to use the new methods of discipline to show her consequences. But how?
            I stuck in my hand to pull out some toilet paper. It was brutally hot, and I said, “Ow!” as I pulled my hand out quickly. Celia quivered as she watched me. It was then and there that I figured out my plan.
            “Celia, when you put all that toilet paper in the sink, it clogged the sink up. That’s not good. Now I’m going to have to pull it all out.”
            “Oh no, Daddy.” Celia looked truly upset.
            I reached in and scooped out some more floating pieces. “Ow!” I said with a grimace.
            Celia watched as I pulled out more and more, then I decided to go for the clog. I grabbed a small strainer to block any more from going down, and reached my hand all the way in to pull out the pieces that were clogging up the sink. “Ow!” I yelled as my hand turned bright red.
            As the sink started to drain, I explained to Celia. “You see, Sweetie, I had to hurt my hand to get that toilet paper out. Look at my hand.” I showed her how bright red it was. She stared quietly and I continued. “My hand hurts now, Sweetie. I have an owie on my hand because you put toilet paper in the sink and I had to get it out.”
            She was quiet. I didn’t press the point any further. At that point, the sink was drained, and I grabbed two small towels. “Let’s clean up the water on the floor.” I handed Celia a cloth, and together we wiped up the water. I wrung out her cloth and gave it back to her. I was amazed that she helped clean up the whole mess.
            I didn’t mention it anymore after that, and I have a feeling I won’t have to worry about her clogging the sink with toilet paper again. This method of discipline really seems to work. I just hope we can continue to think quickly on our feet, because I’m most certain that this is just the beginning.

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