When Stephanie’s mom picks her up that evening, we have the unfortunate responsibility to inform her that Stephanie not only had a difficult day, but that she also bit two of her friends during outside playtime.
Her mom’s immediate comment is that Peter will be incredibly upset to hear this news since he places biting at the top of his list of unacceptable behavior.
Stephanie arrives the next day in her regular play cloths and Peter informs us that he is not picking her up early as he has decided that Stephanie will not attend the party.
Needless to say, we are more than surprised when Peter arrives early evening with Stephanie’s party cloths and tell her to hurry and put them on or they will be late.
A standoff occurs when Stephanie refuses to put on the party cloths and her dad begins putting them on for her while she is resisting and crying.
He struggles with her for what seems forever, and finally succeeds in getting her dressed.
By the time they leave the daycare, Stephanie is screaming and her dad is frustrated, exhausted and bewildered.
We find out the next day that he had reacted very angrily to the news that Stephanie had bitten her friends. In the moment, he told her she would not be going to the party as her punishment.
This incident was somewhat complex because:
1. It involved a professional relationship for the dad.
2. Behavior that ranked highly unacceptable.
3. A punishment that was difficult to carry out since he would need some explanation for his daughter’s absence.
4. The punishment solution really went against his better judgment when he thought about it. He felt guilty about having taken that action.
-Even make a decision driven by anger. Take a break and arrive at a plan that you feel will support your values and be a teaching opportunity.
-Play the guilt card more than once. When you make hasty decisions that you rescind, you diminish your credibility if that style becomes a pattern.
-Become physically or verbally abusive. You can never take that back.
-Apologize and explain your change of decision if that is the case.
-Understand that on occasion you will have to make decisions in complex situations. Think them through! They can be invaluable teaching moments.
Love, trust, and credibility are the basis for a strong relationship with your child. You will be tested all the time!
Make sure your words and actions support your values all the time so your child gets a clear message of what is expected!