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Disciplin question!

(7 Posts)
bullandwings Sat 22-Mar-14 08:33:10

My son refuses to brush his teeth and as I know that he loves to take his bike to school, I say that unless he brushes his teeth, he will be unable to take his bike to school. He will then quite happily brush his teeth knowing that he will be able to take his bike to school.

Okay. About 14 min later after he does brush his teeth and before we are on our way to nursery he will throw some work papers on the floor. I explain to him it is not the done thing and ask him politely to pick it back up. He shakes his head and says no. I remind him again that if he doesn't do as he is told and pick up the paper he has thrown on the floor that I will be unable to allow him to take his bike to nursery... again.

So he picks up the paper and eventually we are on our way to nursery on his bike.

My wife says that if I threaten to take away a privilege such as not allowing him to take his bike to school if he doesn't brush his teeth. I shouldn't use the same bike threat for throwing paper on the floor moments later as I have (according to my wife) already indirectly promised him he can take his bike to school.

I was hoping for some input on this matter and thank you in advance.

Kind regards

Father of a 3 year old


FunkyBoldRibena Sat 22-Mar-14 09:31:21

If you make the threat of 'you need to do all of these things before school or you won't be able to take your bike to school' and have say 5 things he has to do and one of those is 'be helpful' then you can use the threat/promise as you wish. As throwing papers is not helpful.

However if a child threw some papers on the floor then I'd stand there until they were picked up whilst encouraging him 'right lets pick these up before we go and get your bike, I can't get your bike until the papers are picked, if we don't go now we will miss getting your bike out' rather than keep threatening him.

tacal Sat 22-Mar-14 20:27:46

I am not sure about this. If it works for you and you are all leaving the house happy then I suppose it could be ok. My ds loves taking his bike to school. It makes him really happy and we both enjoy the experience of him riding his bike to school. I encourage my ds to take his bike and would never think of using it as a threat/punishment. But my ds is quite a sensitive child so threatening to take his favourite thing away would be too upsetting for him. I can see what your wife means. If you have promised the bike for the teeth brushing you have made a deal with him, so seems unfair to go back on your word because something else has happened. Sorry, I am no help with this.

LondonForTheWeekend Sat 22-Mar-14 20:30:05

Trying not to be smart but what have you done in the way of stopping teeth being something to fight over?

BertieBotts Sat 22-Mar-14 20:49:45

I think it could be either or.

On the one hand it's working, doesn't seem to be distressing him in any great deal and it's not really any different than threatening something like a TV ban/loss of pocket money/time out etc which you'd use for lots of different things.

But, if taking the bike is a reward for brushing teeth, then it's unfair to threaten to take it away for another indiscretion. The thinking behind this is that if you remove a reward then it invalidates the impact of that good behaviour and makes them think "Why should I bother being good anyway if they take it away as soon as I mess up" (probably not so eloquently at 3 but the feeling is the same)

Funky's idea is a good one to have the bike as a reward for general good behaviour in the mornings.

Also another point to think about - I appreciate getting out in the morning is usually a flashpoint and totally get that you need to do whatever works to make it run smoothly - but in general, I tend to think it's not helpful to rely on threat of punishment for everything, it works well in the short term, but in the long term it's not really teaching them anything other then "pick the easy option". So if this is just a "morning = stressful and requiring shortcuts" then no issue at all, but if you are using stick-and-carrot methods most of the time then it might be worth a rethink. (Plus, not really an issue at 3 but kids can get a feel for this kind of behaviour management and end up playing you for whatever outcome they think is best!)

BertieBotts Sat 22-Mar-14 20:51:38

I guess to break it down, if he decides that not picking up the papers is worth forgoing the bike for, then what incentive does he then have to brush his teeth? Or vice versa for whatever combination of behaviours.

BertieBotts Sat 22-Mar-14 20:52:04

(And however unlikely that particular situation is it's the principle I was trying to illustrate!)

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