From discipline to sleep habits, consistency is practically a commandment of good parenting. But sometimes you gotta change the game
Illustration Credit: Jojo Ensslin
Monique Blouin* remembers vividly when her daughter was 12 and started flirting with rudeness. For three straight days, the sixth-grader responded to everyday requests with rolled eyes and a defiantly posed hip. Then Annie muttered that her mom should just chill out. “That’s it!” said the Montreal mother of two teens. “You’re not going to hockey practice.”
At the time, Annie was playing at the highest competitive level for girls, which meant Grand-maman’s funeral was about the only valid reason to skip training. Not surprisingly, Annie staged a loud protest. Blouin remembers thinking The coach is going to have a fit, and their next game is a tough one, and it’s not the team’s fault if she’s being rude..., and says, “In the end, I caved.”
But when the sass continued, Blouin went from regretting the penalty to regretting that she’d dropped it. Fortunately, with support from the coach, she had a second chance: The next time Annie crossed the line, Blouin didn’t let her play. Annie worked herself into such a state that she ended up with a migraine. But the rudeness has stopped — now that Blouin has hockey in her back pocket.
Hands up if you’ve ever wanted a do-over with your kids. Maybe you wished you could erase the sound of your voice uttering a ridiculous consequence (grounded for life, eh?) or hesitated to comfort your teething toddler at 3 a.m. for fear of messing up his sleep habits (and your own).
Venting and hand-wringing won’t turn back time, but changing your mind is OK, says Richard Young, a professor of counselling psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “Situations change or rules may not work the way we’d hoped,” he says. In some cases, reversing a decision can teach your kids valuable life skills. Follow these guidelines next time you need to press the reset button.
*Name changed by request.