I hope all of you are having a wonderful Wednesday. Thanks for stopping by. Today's behavior blog was set and ready until...my oldest son decided to misbehave and become my new blog topic. Cameron is a great kid. But, like a lot of great kids, he is still prone to messing up. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of great adults who fit that mold as well. Therefore, it's on that note where I will begin.
The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers, gave me the "beat" of how to approach today's blog. He sang, "You have to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, and know when to run." My lyrics doesn't have the same smooth style but it goes like this: You have to know when to be mad, know when to be glad, know when to close the distance, and know when to step back.
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Last night, Cameron brought me his library books around 6:30pm and asked if we could return them together. He knows I am a sucker in a library. Instead of just returning books, he would get to peruse and get more books even if it meant staying up past his bedtime on a school night. It's a game I love playing to tell the truth- but don't tell him I said that.
I was busy finishing an email on my computer in the basement. I told him to get his coat on and we would be on our way soon. Right before I finished my email, I heard a familiar walk across the main floor overhead. The hard footsteps meant only one thing- the wife was coming to see me and she was not happy. I tried to think of what I did wrong so I could weasel my way out of it- but came up blank.
The good news was I had avoided trouble (this time). The bad news was Cameron had "back talked" her and was currently hollering and throwing things in his bedroom. Back talking is a behavior that's pretty common in children and I will address it more fully in a future post. But due to his back talking, his library privilege had not been "renewed." The other behaviors came after mama laid down the law.
My initial reaction was shock but it shouldn't have been. Cameron had smaller behavior problems earlier in the afternoon. He could have been tired after a long school day plus "daddy school." Though I don't know the reason, we now had a problem in the Thomas household. Sometimes I want Lauren to handle behavior problems. This time though, it sounded like a war was brewing and I wanted to show support to my wife.
Here's where my "song lyrics" come into play:
You have to know when to be mad- Truthfully, I wasn't mad at all. Lauren had already handled the situation. Although she didn't ask me to help her, I don't think she minded the added support. A tip I learned long ago was it's not always prudent to handle an angry child with anger. That's because anger between two people typically builds off of each other. There are some exceptions to the point but this was certainly not a case that qualified.
Know when to be glad- Maybe it was just me but I was excited he was so upset because he could NOT go to the library. It tells me my wife and I are doing something right. I'd be much more concerned if he didn't like the library. I remember heading up the stairs with a small smirk on my face.
Know when to close the distance- I was two floors away when the problem occurred. There was no doubt I was going to be in Cameron's room. As for how much more distance needed to be closed, I'd have to wait to see how this situation was going to shake out. I don't mind placing my hands on a child who is completely out of control; but I like to evaluate things before I take it to that level.
Know when to step back- Right as I entered the room, Cameron had slammed his closet door. I gave him the "I dare you to do that while I'm here" look. When Cameron saw me, I received the "fear of the father" glare I suspected I would get. I'm sure he thought to himself "What is my dad going to do to me?" It was at this point I threw a proverbial curve ball. Instead of speaking harshly, I calmly said "I can't believe you would act like this because you love going to the library. You are much smarter than what you showed to mom." I held his gaze for probably 5-10 seconds (which to most kids feels like 5-10 minutes) then I walked out.
I could have handled the situation in a variety of ways but what would have been the point of piling it on? Lauren laid down the consequence and I helped Cameron get his behavior under control. In short, I got what I wanted. All it took was an eye gaze and two sentences. You might be surprised to know that even with the toughest kids in my professional life, this tactic worked almost all the time. Later in the evening, Cameron cried and gave mom a heartfelt apology. That's when I truly knew the problem was resolved.
This Friday, I will be answering a parenting question. The crux of it is what do you do with good kids in terms of making them better? Think about it for a couple of days, come back Friday, and we'll compare answers. Until then, all the best to you and the ones you love.