"To be an effective disciplinarian, you must be a model of self-discipline. "

Meaningful or Logical?

Question

Having a hard time with my 3.5 year old boy and what would be a logical consequence - every morning and after nap time he struggles with getting out of bed reasonably. He usually wails and thrashes saying he wants to stay in bed but we need to drive his sisters to school in the morning and proceed with the day after nap. I don't argue with him just remind him what he needs to do prior to coming downstairs - use potty, get dressed, make his bed and open his windows - and then I leave the room. He eventually gets this done but usually has dawdled so much that he doesn't have time to eat his breakfast (on the days he is not finished I put him in the car as is and he finishes when he gets back before anything else). I don't do eating in the car so then he eats when we get back (the drop off carpool takes about an hour). I really don't want to wake him earlier because I feel that he will just absorb more time into his drama/theatrics. Is the delayed breakfast enough of a consequence or should there be more? This drama fest has gone on for months and it's begun to wear on me.

Answer

Aren't 3-year-olds great? They provide much amusement- and sometimes aggravation- to the family routine! Your question was "Is delayed breakfast enough of a consequence?" Let me answer you by asking you this: Is your consequence changing his behavior? It sounds like it is not. It also sounds like you are well on your way to solving this problem because you are willing to enforce a consequence. If you are consisting in providing a MEANINGFUL consequence, then you will see change. You know your son better than I do, so you know what is meaningful in his life.

Not knowing what he values, I will offer my thoughts on what most kids his age understand: bedtime. This sounds like a great opportunity for "the Doctor" to step in. The Doctor says that children who are weary and dreary in the mornings obviously need more sleep. So each time he wakes up and acts like a little monster, he will be going to bed immediately after dinner that night. Then follow through. Don't act like this is a punishment- this is a favor you are doing for him so that he can get all the sleep he thinks he needs.

When he realizes that he is going to bed at 6 pm while his siblings are still up and playing, he will decide that it serves him better to just get out of bed and get the day going instead of engaging in all the theatrics.

Keep on, Momma!

Liz Mallett

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