Natural Consequences–or in other words, “there goes the bus, Malia”

*sigh* Friends of mine have long touted “natural consequences” as a way of teaching children. If they do x, y will happen. If they don’t do y, z will happen, etc. I’ve tried these tactics a few times…without remarkable success. Today, unfortunately, Malia got a first hand lesson in it.

She has been really struggling in the mornings. She has always been the “Poky little Puppy”…she takes FOREVER to eat, to get dressed, to do just about anything. Ever since school began, she has really had a rough time in the mornings. We moved her bedtime back, thinking that would make a difference. She’s been getting up earlier, but still super cranky. I mean, full on MELT DOWNS in the mornings….won’t get dressed after the shower, won’t eat, etc. It’s been incredibly trying on my patience. So, when today began like most others lately…and she had a fit about getting dressed…I walked away. I told her that if she wasn’t dressed and out to the table very quickly, she would miss the bus. Daddy went in a few minutes later and gave her that same warning. She kept whining and crying and rolling on the floor. Kassia and Shawn came right out and ate their breakfasts…cheerily, I’ll add. 8:30 came and Malia showed her face, 1/2 dressed, hair still not brushed (but dried and frizzy by this point). I told her it didn’t look like she was going to make it, but here was her cream-cheese bagel if she wanted to give it a shot. More tears, more whining. Shawn asked me if I was coming (we throw the football together at the bus stop). So, I told Malia I was sorry she had chosen not to get dressed quicker and she had chosen not to eat faster…and I went outside with Shawn and Kasi. You could hear Malia’s hysterics from the street, and I apologized to the neighbors. I think they empathized…or at least found some humor in it. Then the bus came. Steve (the bus driver who knows us so well), glanced up towards the door and asked “where’s the other one”? “Having a melt down inside”, I replied. He laughed a belly laugh and said, “seems to be happening a lot lately”…and drove away with just Shawn on the bus.

The mother of all melt downs ensued. I calmly told her to pull herself together, finish her breakfast and come tell me what she learned from this. A few more tears later, the discussion went like this…

Mom: “Does the bus wait for you, Malia?”

M: “NO!”

Mom: “Do you need to get dressed right away, Malia?”

M: “Yes”

Mom: “How quickly do you need to sit down and eat your food?”

M: “really fast”

Mom: “Are you going to do this again?”

M: thinks, glares at me…”NO…can I go to school now?”

So, I told her this was her one “second chance”. If this happened again, I wouldn’t be driving her to school, she’d spend the day in her room. I brought her to school a half hour late…and I hadn’t even showered. I wrote a note to Mrs. G, explaining my need to teach Malia what happens when you don’t “get moving” in the morning. Then I ran into a Mom I know on the way out and I told her what happened. She empathized…”sounds like my house…only, they don’t miss the bus…they get screamed at until they get on it”. I told her I don’t have the energy for screaming…and it’s a stinky way to start your day. She agreed and thought maybe she’d give my tactic a whirl. Here’s to natural consequences…sure hope Malia has learned something. I, somehow, feel calmer today.

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