Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The children, a cat and consequences of the natural kind

It's been two weeks of school for my kids and I'm so happy to say there has been no crying for definitely this week, last week and I think even the Friday of the first week.

Guess what they're doing these days?

Practising for sports day!

We HATE sports so are kind-of dreading it. I just hope it's warmer than it was last year.

But let's talk about this other thing first.

Julia and I were emailing about some things today that made me remember I've wanted to talk about something with you.

I'm a big believer in natural consequences because I honestly think we all (me very definitely included) baby our kids far too much and they're going to grow up "soft".

I don't think I told you this but last year I instituted a system where Nanny S would collect them from school on a Friday WITH a plastic folder to fetch their artwork so that we didn't have to remember one more thing on the weekend that had to go back to school.

After a few weeks like this, the school phoned me and asked me about it.


So I told them my motivation - that I have enough to do and that's why this is one thing we can do there and then to remember it.

The principal told me that they want the kids to bring it home so that THEY can remember to bring it back. I said, "oh mine won't remember" and she said, "that's fine. it's not your job to remember for them". (BTW, this kind of hardcore-ness is part of what attracted me to the school initially)

I was quite taken aback because I agree... but they seemed kind-of small to be doing all this remembering and responsibility business.

But I remembered my love languages training with Carol, and how she always says that kids can do more than what we think they can do.

So I checked my understanding and said, "so if they forget their folders, you're not going to leave me notes every day?" (I hate the darn notes!!!)

No, she said.



I loved it because hey, the sooner we get them feeling responsibility for their own things, the better.

Anyway, true as Bob (do you say this?), the kids did forget for a few weeks but then started remembering to remove their art and place their folders next to their bags in a little storage bin I have next to the door.


I have NEVER said, "don't forget your folders".


Which reminds me of my one work friend, K, who is VERRRRY hard core. I joke and say that when I grow up, I want to be a parent like she is.

E.g. All 3 her kids did music lessons at one point. She didn't have the au pair at that point but in our old team (OH how I miss them) we could just leave and come back as we wanted. So she told the boys to be at a certain place at the school for pick-up at 2.45 sharp. She had to fetch them and take them to the music school for their 3 pm lesson.

Well, 2 out of 3 boys were waiting. The 3rd is a bit of a dreamer :) and didn't pitch after 5 mins so she left.

He missed the lesson and when she fetched him eventually, she told him, "L, you owe me R110 for that music lesson".

He was all "but I don't have money...." and she said, "I don't care. I paid for that lesson, you were not ready and missed it, and there are no refunds, so I want my money back".

He had to wash their cars for a few weeks to earn the money back.

And... he never missed a lesson again.


Do you?

However, here is the rub.

I'm very frugal. Would I actually stick to it when (considerable) money was involved?

The kids are taking swimming lessons and it is a lot of money for 30 minutes, or 25 once all the "I need to pee. Yes, me too." business is over.

We'll see.... will I let them miss more of their lesson for faffing around?

Julia and I were talking about what that line looks like between letting consequences happen and your child maybe failing something, or getting 0 for an assignment, etc.

I don't know if I'll be able to stick with it (I'm a bit of an achiever :)) but I realise I may have to once or twice early on, let natural consequences take its course and see if they learn.

Also, the (not so) small matter of grace. God extends His grace to me every day; surely I should do so sometimes for them?

By the way, the kids also have to take something to school every week for the theme table.

I make the announcement ONCE and brainstorm with them. Then they have to go fetch the things and put it ready.

This week Kendra listened immediately (rare!) and went to get the book. Connor just ignored me and carried on with whatever he was doing (much more the norm). However, on Monday morning, Connor went, "MUMMY! we forgot to get that photo".

I said, "not WE, YOU!" but since it was just a walk past the photo album to slip a photo out, I did it.

I figured that technically he did remember in time since we were still in the house :)

Do you believe in letting natural consequences run their course?
Share some examples with me.

PS I love playing with words to find three that start with the same letter to make my blog titles interesting.


  1. This is such a good topic. I try really hard to let my kids take responsibility for themselves and face the consequences. As they get older, I think they need more and more responsibility so they're ready for the real world. Like... the girls do their own laundry now. If they don't have clean socks, it's not my problem.
    Ethan is responsible for getting himself to the bus. I shouldn't be required to dress myself and the three little boys to drive him to school if he misses it- he needs to learn that it's his job. If he has a certain number of absences, he fails the semester, regardless of grades. Last year he had to make up days on Saturday for being lazy earlier, and he hated it.

  2. We were just discussing this tonight. I watched this documentary one young black boys and prestigious schools and was appalled at how much their parents were doing for them. They were earning their diplomas! So we chatted about it for a good while and G disclosed that this behavior is more common than not. I made it clear he was mistaken if he thought we would be earning our children's degrees!

    I'm very much a live and learn mom, I feel you have to be. Although I am starting to get more and more disapproving glances over it. I'm not battling over things not directly involving me. I aim to produce responsible, INDEPENDENT, and productive people. I would much rather teach them to fish, ya know?! I suppose I'll get a real taste of this soon enough.

  3. Hmmm, good one. I MAKE like I'm all about teaching them responsibility, but I think truthfully because I want everything to be perfect, I run around behind them "fixing" stuff. Alot of the time, it's either because of time saving or because I don't have the energy for what I KNOW is going to go wrong, so I just do things myself or force them to do it MY way..but that does need to stop. I absolutely believe in living-and-learning. I think I need to stop blowing a lot of hot air and actually LET them live and learn versus me fixing everything. We have lots of issues.. forgetting to take things to school, or bringing things back home (they are allowed to take a water bottle to school, but they never remember to bring it back. I've now said that they are not allowed to take another bottle to school UNLESS they return the other one.. even if there are millions of bottles in the cupboard, even if you are dying of thirst, this is the new rule. Another case with the dog.. I have said do not leave ANYTHING laying around, he will chew it. Don't leave toys, shoes, or ANYTHING laying around! I have said that if Rocky chews something, I will not be mad at Rocky, I will be mad at YOU for leaving it laying around. Rocky chewed Liam's sandal (not too bad, still wearable) and he was upset and I had to say "told you so." They have since gotten better at not leaving their stuff laying about. Good post.

  4. My child never listens - like EVER! I think he's at that stage/age (he's all of 2years old now)...I'm not sure? But judging by how he listens now, we may just have to institute this type of reminder system when he's older so that he can learn. I can imagine that it's rather hard to draw the line though and I'm definitely more like you. I talk once and tell him to fetch something or pick something up and then end up doing it too. Bad, I know...need to start giving things like this some serious thought especially as Ethan gets older :-)

  5. I DO love the K story! Tomorrow I am going to do my own consequences post based on the events that transpired yesterday but these are my thoughts in the meantime:

    We are all different. Even as adults. I try to remember that some kids need a bit more than others and that sometimes a concept will take a bit longer to click. Goodness me, I am only now starting to manage certain things that I should have been managing as a teenager already!
    So. I do extend a lot of grace. However, I also need to teach them that the world is not so gracious. This is the not-so-nice part - that's the tricky part because really, where does one draw the line?

    I also like consequences. But yes, it is SUCH a fine line. I get VERY twitchy when consequences affect me in the way that I lose money. Of course I will get twitchy if consequences have the potential to affect my childs future negatively.

  6. I think it's a sliding scale...some things I will rescue and some I won't. As she gets older more and more will fall on herself. I had a discussion about this recently with a colleague. Her 18 year old son was battling to send in his assignments on time if she didn't nag him. I said to her he really should man up on this without her, was she going to shadow him at wirk one day too?! She stepped back and he failed the semester. Since then he really turned it around and started owning it...but he now owes her R50 000, for the money he wasted redoing that semester. If she never has to nag him about doing what he's supposed to it was money well spent in my opinion. Tuition fees at the school of hard knocks...(plus he's paying her back - so it's more of a loan really).

  7. Gosh I battle with this but am trying this year to let go - I think it has to do with control as well. Cameron is terrible! He forgets to do homework, forgets to get things signed etc etc. For the most part, because the teachers like him, he manages to talk his way out of it but this year the one teacher is rather strict and he keeps getting black dots - I am leaving it - well I ask "is there anything for me to sign/help with" - the rest is up to him. Doing the same with Kiara now too - she hasn't done homework until last night I think when D forced her.

    The teachers at both schools tell us often how they need to start taking responsibility for themselves so I am trying it. It is hard though because I feel like I am not being a proper parent if I don't check up more but reality is at 9 and 11 they really shouldn't need as much "reminding" as I give them.

    Both kids have had to pay for school uniform items - I can't be buying new shoes every month because they loose them!

  8. I think that's a good story, but the younger they are, the more you have to help them.

  9. When my boys were in school, I was working corporate. I couldn't just up and run when they forgot something. They quickly had to learn to live with the consequences of their actions or lack of actions. I believe they grew up pretty responsible.


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