Friday, August 1, 2008

the power of NO

I have to share a quick story about Nicklas. Hubby and I are so lucky to have Nicklas as a son. For the most part, he makes parenting easy. He was an easy baby - he slept through the night, rarely was sick, and was generally happy. As a toddler, he was easy going. He shared his toys and listened well to instructions. I can only think of one "tantrum" he had that ensued with a quick exit from WalMart.

Now that he's school age, his incredible intelligence and sensitivity guides him in life. He rarely challenges hubby and I and we expect a lot from him. (I know we probably expect too much as he's only seven but his maturity levels leads us to forget his young age.) I'm sure there are some that would say we're too hard on him. (The MIL made a comment once.) Maybe it's the fact that he's the first born. Or maybe it's because we're afraid to let up on him for fear he'll revert backwards. I'm not sure but balancing our discipline and parenting styles with his age and maturity is becoming increasingly difficult.

Anyway, back to my story. Last night we were getting ready to sit down for dinner and Nicklas was shirtless (he and Seeger had been squirting water at each other outside so he took his shirt off). Since we had a guest over who was joining us for dinner, I asked Nicklas to put a shirt on. His response was "no".

For those of you who know Nicklas, I'm sure you're surprised. He is typically well-mannered, helpful, and although he doesn't always appreciate my requests, he does them with little complaining. So the "no" thing is something new for him. He's getting older and learning he can make his own choices. And now, I think he's testing us. Or maybe he's just testing me because this is the fourth time he's responded in that manner - but always to me, never to hubby. (We're both tough but hubby's definitely tougher!) Every time he's said no, it's been with an air of uncertainty. He'll say it quietly or as he's turning his back to walk away. He learned at a young age that it isn't appropriate to say no to a parent; that if he's asked to do something, he's expected to do it. So this change in him has been a bit surprising. The first time was a few weeks ago. I don't even remember what he was responding to but as soon as the no came from his mouth, I gave him a warning, "Nicklas, you don't say no when I ask you to do something. This is a warning and if it happens again, no Wii for a week." The second time (about a week later) he said No and quickly apologized when he saw the look I gave him. (I let it slide, since he went to do whatever it was I told him to do right away.) The third time was not long after and since the no was tentative and barely audible, I didn't follow-thru on the original threat. I probably should have since my number one rule in parenting is to ALWAYS follow-thru. But we were on vacation and it didn't seem like the time or place. But I did give him a second warning, telling him I was serious about losing the Wii for a week if he said no to me again. And then it happened last night. So of course, I had to issue the punishment. When he told me no, I responded that he lost all electronic media privileges for a week. (We limit his total combined time on of watching tv, playing Wii, or being on the computer to two hours a day.)

The good news is he quickly apologized and was a sweetheart for the rest of the night. I know he felt bad and I'm sure it will be awhile (hopefully LONG while) before it happens again. I feel sad and bummed for him because I know he's sad and bummed but I also know he'll quickly get over it and it will be good for him to do more reading, outdoor time, and playing with his toys. Of course, he has all sorts of questions about his punishment. Does it apply when he's at other people's houses? Does it count when he's playing Harry Potter "Scene It"? He's not yet a teenager but he's already honing his negotiating skills!


Christy said...

That is surprising about Nicklas, but I am glad that you followed through. I think your parenting style in the past is the reason why your kids are so good and well-behaved. They're a pleasure to be around and I'd hate for that to change!

Anonymous said...

My your guest must have felt awkward :)I'm kidding.
Natalie, don't feel bad for a second you are the BEST mom and I tell you that all the time. I hope if we ever have kids they model your boys! You have to stay strong :)