Have you ever said, “Is that a warning or a threat?” It can be a snide little question but it is
packed with meaning.
Mom says, “Joey sit down.” Joey doesn’t sit down. Mom says, “Joey, sit down right now or you are going to be in trouble.” Joey doesn’t sit down. Mom says, “Joey, I said sit down. Don’t make me come over there.” Joey doesn’t sit down. Mom says, “Joey, sit down or I am going to put you in time out.” Joey doesn’t sit down. Mom says, “Joey, I’ve had it. You are grounded for a week.”It seems funny and outrageous but we all are guilty of falling into the trap of threats.
Clear warnings are much more effective and keep the blood pressure of parents down to a normal rate. When giving a warning, be sure to obtain and keep eye contact with the child. Speak calmly but with a firm tone. Next, make sure that the instructions are understood. Choose a specific, age-appropriate consequence and let the child know exactly what will occur if he or she chooses not to obey. Lastly, praise obedience or follow through with the discipline.
Here is an example using the same scenario:
Mom says, “Joey, please sit down. “ Joey doesn’t sit down. Mom says, “Joey, I have asked you to sit down. If you don’t sit down, you will _____.”
The goal is that after a while warnings will no longer be needed. The child will learn that you mean what you say and that obedience is the best choice.