I have been using the ticket system with my 5-year-old for about a week now. When he loses his tickets he’s sent to his room for the remainder of the day. However, my son seems to be dealing with some abandonment issues with his father. I’m concerned that sending him away to his room may be feeding into that fear. I’m worried I’m sending him the same message he had received from his father . . . “You were naughty, now go away from me.” I’m curious if there’s something else I could do when he loses his tickets. I’ve thought about taking away all toys, including his prized possessions (his trains) but still allowing him to be a pat of the family. What do you think?
Hello, and thank you for writing. I understand your concern, but I caution you against psychoanalyzing your 5-year-old son. You are not his father, and you are not abandoning him. You are his mom, and your job is to raise him to be respectful, responsible, and resourceful.
The explicit message you are sending is: Because you were disobedient/disrespectful and lost all your tickets, you are not allowed around the family for the rest of the day. Instead, you will be in your very boring room that has no entertainment value and only a bed, books and maybe crayons/paper. Once you are able to go 14 consecutive days without losing all your tickets, you will regain your privileges and freedoms. Implicit in your message and actions is the confirmation that you love him, unconditionally, and will do what you need to do to help him grow into an adult who is a blessing to the world.
Humans don't usually change their behavior until the cost of not changing is too great. If you lessen the consequences, it's quite likely that your son will not be motivated to change. Make his behavior his problem to solve, and give him the opportunity to do so in his quiet and boring bedroom.
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