We recently finished reading How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber in our local peaceful parenting group. I've mentioned this book before. I feel it is a must read, so very helpful, even if you've been parenting peacefully for a while. It's a great refresher.
Last week we had a situation in which the book especially helped me out. Josh (9y) had gone to the neighbor's house to swim with his friend. He came home, showered, and changed into dry clothes. The next day he mentioned swimming again while we were driving, and I realized I hadn't seen his swim shorts anywhere since the day before. I asked where he'd put them. He said in his closet. I was upset about this, and the thought of sharing how upset I was crossed my mind. Instead the conversation went something like this-
Me- Where exactly in your closet did you leave the shorts?
Josh- On the shelf.
Me- What happens to wooden shelves when they're wet like that?
Josh- They can warp or rot.
Me- So do you think that's an appropriate place to put wet shorts?
Josh- No, probably not.
Me- Can you think of a more appropriate place to leave them?
Josh- I could put them in the laundry.
Me- You could. That would get the other clothes and possibly the hamper all wet too.
Josh- Yeah. I could put it straight into the washing machine.
Me- That would keep other things from getting wet, yes. But then they wouldn't be available to wear again until after they were washed.
Josh- Oh, yeah....
Me- I was thinking you could hang them in the shower to dry.
Josh- Yeah, that's a good idea!
Making him feel badly about leaving wet shorts in the closet would not have made him want to do better in the future, and it doesn't help him understand WHY it isn't a good idea to leave wet clothes in the closet. This way he got to think through the reasons for doing things differently next time, and he got to contribute to finding a solution, in an accepting and respectful way.