Lessons in Consequences

Posted on | August 6, 2013 | 10 Comments

“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” I thought to myself, as I finished toweling off the child who had thrown a fit first about getting out of bed and then about getting into the shower. Eventually, I’d had to run a bath because the screaming was too much over taking a shower, but the screams continued throughout the bath and on into the getting dressed.

“I HATE TAKING BATHS,” he yelled, directly into my face.

“I WISH I LIVED BY MYSELF!” He pouted, trying to splash water on my work outfit.

“YOU NEVER LET ME DO ANYTHING,” He spat at me with words as I insisted he brush his teeth before school.

Last night, just before bedtime, we talked about going out to breakfast. He planned what he wanted to eat, right down to the last melon slice and he’d been talking about it all morning.  I waited until I’d wrestled his shoes on his kicking feet, and tucked a cereal bar and a sippy cup of juice into my purse. The yelling was too much.  When I’d told him he had to get in the bath, he’d taken a useless swing in my general direction and I’d grabbed his fist and stared him down until he stopped. It had been too much all morning.

Suddenly, with shoes on, hair dripping wet, and tears still on his face from the manic yelling that had taken place all morning, my little devil spun to angel and sweetly said:

“Is it time for breakfast at the restaurant now?”

I looked down at him for a moment then squatted to his level, eye to eye with my arm around his shoulders.

“Were you nice to mommy this morning?” I asked quietly.

“No,” he grinned a little.

“Did you try to hit mommy this morning?” I asked, my words soft.

“Yeah.” His grin faded.

“Do you think that’s how you should act?”

“No.” He looked down at the floor.

“We’re not going to do breakfast this morning,” I braced myself for the screams, “but if you can try to be kind today and tomorrow morning, we can try again tomorrow.”

There were epic screams. There were sobs.  I wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him it was okay.  I wanted to do anything and everything to curb the tide of the tears that were pouring down his cheeks. There was flailing and crying and so much three-year-old anger and sadness that I thought briefly about changing my mind just to have him stop the crazy.  But I didn’t.

Because there are consequences to bad behavior… even at three.

Even when it hurts me more than him.


10 Responses to “Lessons in Consequences”

  1. Melanie Burton
    August 6th, 2013 @ 9:23 am

    Someday, when he’s a daddy, he’ll get a taste of this on his own and will appreciate you even more for being the great parent that you are. Parenting is easily one of the hardest jobs out there and everyday, I just hope and pray I don’t screw my kids up. Hang in there!

  2. Law Momma
    August 6th, 2013 @ 10:50 am

    You and me both. It’s a full time job with no pay for sure.

  3. Delia
    August 6th, 2013 @ 10:27 am

    It must be in the air – C couldn’t watch cartoons yesterday because I caught him lying to me. He happily told me no time-outs at school when I picked him up…only he was sitting in time out at the time! It would have been so easy to cave and let him watch 1 show so that I could fix dinner, but I had to prove a point. And it wasn’t easy. Hope tomorrow is better.

  4. Law Momma
    August 6th, 2013 @ 10:49 am

    Me too. It’s getting so frustrating.

  5. Olivesinba
    August 6th, 2013 @ 10:30 am

    I think it sounds like you are doing just the right thing. Actions do have consequences, even at 3 and insults hurt feelings, even at 30. I am impressed you are keeping your cool under such fire, congrats and keep it up. There is a woman-in-the-making out there who will thank you fro this some day!

  6. Law Momma
    August 6th, 2013 @ 10:49 am

    Oh my gosh is it hard. IT IS SO HARD. No one really tells you that the hardest part about parenting is that you love them so much you HATE to make them cry.

  7. MaconMom
    August 7th, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

    So awesome and timely!!!

  8. KeAnne
    August 8th, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

    I swear, every time I read one of your posts, I have a sense of deja vu and wonder if we are living the same life. That scene played out almost exactly in my house this morning, and we’re trying so hard to teach D about consequences too. I think he’s getting it, but yeah, seeing him cry because he lost a toy due to poor behavior breaks MY heart in a million pieces.

  9. Laura Payette
    August 10th, 2013 @ 12:53 am

    We’re having almost the same situation at our house lately. The boundary testing and general drama are crazy. It sure tests your patience and resolve. Hang in there; you’re not alone! If you want some entertainment, I did a little video montage of one of our mornings this week trying to get out the door for work/daycare. It’s kind of hilarious in retrospect. So much drama! http://payettestork.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/a-peek-into-one-of-our-weekday-mornings-hint-drama/

  10. Robbie K
    August 14th, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

    Kudos to you for sticking to the consequence even though it would have been easier to give in. Three was so much harder than two around my house.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.
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