I’ve had a recent happening at our local grocery store that turned into a great parenting experience.
The first happened about two weeks ago. I was with LoudBoy and Birdsnest getting a few things. At the checkout, Loudboy asks me if he can have a pack of gum, to which I reply “no”. End of conversation as we have packs at home. As I’m getting ready to pay for the groceries, I see LoudBoy has his legs held tightly together.
“Do you have to go to the bathroom?” I ask.
“Nope” LoudBoy says.
Great, so we grab our bags and make it out the front door of the store. I turn to grab his hand to save him from crossing the parking lot alone and see he’s trying to hide a pack of gum… the very pack I told him he couldn’t have. While I was certainly a little mad at his decision, in some ways it was really good to have this learning opportunity just drop in my lap. I led him back inside to the main counter, where a 16 year old girl was occupying the area where one of the store managers normally sit. I had to explain to her that my son tried to steal gum, for which he was very sorry. You see in these situations, or situations where he’s not comfortable he doesn’t have a voice. He’s incredibly shy by nature and is a very caring individual who when shamed doesn’t know how to express himself, least of all by talking.
The look on LoudBoy’s face was priceless, a mix of fear, shame and regret for what had occurred. The girl was really nice about the whole situation (too nice given the lesson I was trying to convey) and the whole thing was probably over in about 45 seconds. On the drive home, he was balling, and kept saying how “scared” he was. He couldn’t put into words the emotions he was feeling and I guess scared was as close as he could come. Later, he did say that he was scared the police were going to get him. We must have had that conversation on the way home, how if you break the law you’ll go to jail that type of thing. For Birdsnest’s sake, I asked her what she would do if one of her friends tried to steal something, a little role playing for her to start thinking. I don’t think either of them will be shoplifting any time soon, it was quite the impression!
That was all the discipline we needed for those circumstances. Holly and I have certain expectations of our children and once the expectation is met, or the point hammered home, we tend not to belabor the point. I’m sure other posts will get into some more of our parenting philosophy, but in general it is love your child, have fun or loving physical contact with them in various manners, make your expectations of them clear and if expectations aren’t met then discipline to emphasize the consequences (we use time outs, though other methods have also been used and alternative methods are likely forthcoming in the near future – had the talk with Birdsnest about what “grounding” means).