Have you ever found yourself driving your kids to school or the bus stop and as you are turning into the car park you hear the ominous words: “Uh oh!” Your heart sinks. “Mum/Dad I’ve forgotten my lunch, hat, homework, class pet, togs, pjs, excursion permission note, musical instrument, or that project you’d stayed up all night finishing for them!”
What do you do?
Most parents I’ve watched, despite their schedule for the day, find themselves tearing home and back to school to deliver the forgotten item. The child expectant, barely thanks them as they run off to play and the parent is left to come down from the shot of adrenalin plunged into their bloodstream.
There is another way! It is revolutionary!
It allows the person who is responsible for the dilemma to reap the consequences themselves! It means mum and dad keep their sanity and it leads to less of these moments in your future!
So what is this way I hear you asking? Go about your day exactly as you had planned. Do not rush home. Do not rescue your child by fixing their problem. You may have to endure manipulation in five short acts: the silent treatment, a tantrum, “I hate you”, tears, and “everyone else’s mum/dad would go and get it!”
After agreeing that you might just be the worst parent in the world, and contemplating that you may not love them as much as their friends’ parents love, it will pass. Then you will have the opportunity to ask whose homework, zinc, book report, recorder, lunch and tuckshop money it is anyway? You will be able to commiserate with them over how unfortunate it is that they forgot it and later on that afternoon when they’ve calmed down and it’s all blown over you can invite them to implement a plan that will mean they can avoid ever experiencing that consequence again!
After the first time my eldest daughter left her hat at home and begged me in tears to go and get it. My heart hurt for her, afterall she was only six! But I knew that I had to be strong! This was a perfect opportunity to teach her, via natural consequences, the life lesson of personal responsibility! Let’s face it, she either learns the lesson now or alternatively I could be driving home every second day for something forgotten for the rest of my life! So she missed playtime at Prep that day, not a huge issue as some nice friend stayed undercover to play with her. When she got home that afternoon she implemented a plan that means the school hats now live in the boot, even accompanying us on family outings and holidays. My daughter’s never forgotten her hat since and my stress levels remain low! Win win! Feel free to try it too!