Monday, August 26, 2013

Josh Finds Internal Motivation

We have two boys- Josh (8y) and Bug (2y). We do our best to teach them the non-aggression principle, and to live by it ourselves, but we regularly have problems with Josh encroaching on Bug's rights; picking him up without permission, taking his toys without permission, that sort of thing. Bug is smaller and less able to clearly assert himself. Josh didn't grow up with this type of parenting, we only started just over a year ago, so there are some habits to break, some approaches to unlearn, for Papa and I as well.

So there I was yesterday, telling Josh yet again not to touch his brother without permission and to listen to him when he said 'no', at my whit's end.

Me- Seriously! What do I have to do to get you to understand that you CAN NOT do that?!

Josh, sullenly- I don't know....

Me- I feel like I'm going to have to resort to punishments. Nothing else is working. I'm seeing no improvement. Every day we go through this over and over with no improvement.

I sat there brooding, knowing punishment was NOT what I wanted to do in reaction to the situation. I 'knew' artificial rewards and punishments do not work. I 'knew' that was not the way to help Josh want to do better by his brother. And then it hit me! Josh did not need an external motivator, he needed internal motivation. So we sat down to talk.

Me- If you hit Bug, would that make it okay for me to hit you as punishment?

Josh- No.

Me- And if you took his toy without permission, would that make it okay for me to take something of yours without permission too?

Josh- No.

Me- What type of person would I be if I did not respect your body or your property like that?

Josh- Well, you'd be a mean person. I wouldn't trust you.

Me- Alright. Now, do you realize that you are being that type of person to your brother? You aren't respecting his body or his property.

Josh- I just forget sometimes.

Me- Do you want to be that person, or do you want to be a better person?

Josh- Better person.

Me- I can't do anything to make you a better person. Punishing you doesn't make you a better person. Only you can change yourself, by changing the choices you make. If you want to be better, you need to think of some way to remind yourself. Think it over and we can talk about it before bedtime, alright?

Josh- What if I think of something earlier?

Me- We can talk about it any time you want, but I don't want you to put it off, so let's plan to definitely talk before bed.

Josh- Alright.

And so we talked before bed. He decided that since he has trouble remembering, he would make a picture to hang up in the living room as a reminder.

Not only were we able to avoid punishments or rewards in this situation, we were able to give Josh some really useful tools for problem solving.

No comments:

Post a Comment