"As children grow older, parents must give them greater freedom, including greater freedom to make mistakes. "

No Good Reason For 7-Year-Old's Threat

Question

I got a call from our daycare provider today saying our 7-year-old told his best friend that he was going to bring in a real gun and shoot him because the friend had taken something that belonged to him. This resulted in the principal giving us a call and having our sobbing child explain to us what he had done. She also told us how grave this incident was and that we should not take it lightly. What is the best way for us to handle this?

Answer

Let me start with commending you for stepping up and choosing to raise your great grandson under very difficult circumstances. Having worked with the Foster Care System during my career in education I can say without hesitation that you have already done right by this child. The typical role, or should I say desire of most grandparents is to provide grandchildren with our undivided attention, since our time with them is often limited. Your situation is obviously not typical, therefore as a parent/guardian the philosophy to adopt is one of unconditional love and undisputed leadership. The problem with many of today's parents is they are paralyzed by fear that their children will no longer love or like them if they chastise them for any reason. They want their child's friendship above all and will sacrifice respect to get it. Parents come in pairs for a reason.........proper discipline requires effort.

The day care incident is serious, yet I would hesitate to try and explain or analyze the reasons behind this outburst. In others words it really does not matter what his friend did, but his response to it is what needs to be addressed. The first step is for your grandson to give a verbal and written apology to those directly involved (friend and day care worker). Next if you want to make a strong impression regarding the seriousness of his offense remember "the time should be greater than the crime", i.e., the consequence will need to be memorable. I am not sure what consequence has already been given, so I will speak in general terms. For a first offense such as this I would recommend something along the lines of no after school activities, and an early bedtime (entertainment-free room) for at least a week to get his attention. A primary goal for all parents should be in the words of Jordan Peterson: "to not allow our children to do anything that will cause us to dislike them." In those times when they do something despicable and we know they all will, our responsibility is to make it a problem for them and not us.

In closing I highly recommend you pick up a copy of "The Well-Behaved Child", it will serve as a valuable resource in the years ahead. Hang in there and let us know how it goes.

David Martin
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
57djmartin@gmail.com
412 925 9882

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