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Is it really mean to withdraw a promised treat over bad behaviour?

(23 Posts)
Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sat 20-Oct-12 14:25:12

Promised the dd's we'd go swimming this afternoon. Need to keep them out of the house for a bit, dh has to go to work tonight and needs sleep. Told them if they were noisy we wouldn't be going. Needless to say they've been really noisy and arguing and now I've told them we're not going swimming. Dd1 is upset, dd2 doesn't seem bothered. I on the other hand am pissed off. Was looking forward to it and was going to get fish & chips on the way home as a treat.

Was I being unreasonable? Feel really mean now. I guess we could go tomorrow. Just don't want to be inconsistent. They have to learn that when mummy says it, she does actually mean it. They are 5 and 3.

QTPie Sat 20-Oct-12 14:33:04

I think the rule is "never threaten anything that you don't genuinely mean". So yes, you said "if you are noisy, we won't go swimming" and you have to deliver it. So what you did was exactly right. If you go back on it now and say "oh we can go after all" then they will not respect your threats in future.

Maybe they can earn going tomorrow IF they are well behaved?


difficultpickle Sat 20-Oct-12 14:35:51

Don't threaten withdrawal of treats if you don't mean to follow through. Consistency is key and the more consistent you are the easier it is all round. I always think long and hard about threats before I make them.

Ds (8) lost a cinema trip tomorrow as he pulled a girl's hair at school yesterday (apparently another girl told him to). He has four different aspects of school life that he has to be good in in order to earn a weekend treat. He was very well behaved all week in all areas until the hair pulling incident. He was devastated last night when I told him we wouldn't be going but he understands why the treat was withdrawn. It will also make him think twice when this particular girl (who apparently is a known troublemaker according to other parents) tries to get him into trouble.

meditrina Sat 20-Oct-12 14:37:03

What you did is right - never threaten a consequence you will not impose.

But you need to think of different consequences - ie something they will mind but you'll be glad to change.

SavoyCabbage Sat 20-Oct-12 14:37:04

Now you have said it you have done the right thing by following through and not taking them. We've all done this I think. Said stuff and then realised we have sabotaged ourselves. I once had to take away every single toy my four year old owned and my friend had no tv for a month.

deleted203 Sat 20-Oct-12 14:39:04

Absolutely agree - you can't make idle threats. The swimming has to be off. I would go for a long walk in the park with them and perhaps pick up fish and chips on the way home if they have behaved well. As you say, if they are very well behaved you could go tomorrow.

DameFannyGallopsAtaGhost Sat 20-Oct-12 14:40:12

Yep, forced march around the park instead, then DH can get his sleep.

youarewinning Sat 20-Oct-12 14:45:26

You are right by following through.

NEVER take away the TV though! I made that mistake just the once. grin

Its the same as if your out, only threaten we'll leave if .................., if you will actually leave.

wishes I'd always followed my own advice!

HeinousHecate Sat 20-Oct-12 14:46:08

I think it's reasonable to withdraw a treat for bad behaviour. There must be consequences for bad behaviour and those must hurt. It's no good saying right, because you have been fighting all day, I am not going to allow you to eat your sprouts today grin (unless they love sprouts )

However, I think it's only fair to warn them of the consequence and not just drop it on them. So, if you do X again, then Y will happen.

Unless it's something really bad of course, sometimes something requires an immediate punishment and not a warning. But by and large, I think it's better to give them the chance to stop the behaviour.

But what you can't do is threaten something and then not do it. Kids learn fast grin and it only takes a time or two for them to have it sussed that you're not actually going to do it. And then you've lost grin

naturalbaby Sat 20-Oct-12 14:53:03

I've got exactly the same scenario! I'm taking ds2 instead of ds1 because of his behaviour this morning. I feel really mean and guilty because I know he's misbehaving because he's so tired, but I threatened it so now I have to follow through.
I do give them the opportunity to earn their treat back the next day or whenever, so I'll take ds1 swimming on Monday.

Fluffanstuff Sat 20-Oct-12 14:56:20

Your doing exzactly the right thing , and your also right in giving him the opportunity to earn his treat back. Make sure you give him something specific to achieve in order to get it back being 'good' for a whole day is really really really hard !!

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sat 20-Oct-12 14:56:43

Oh lord thank you all so much!

I do feel really mean but they did have plenty of warning. They kept buggering about and arguing and then dd1 thought it a good idea to start playing a recorder!

They're now playing games on the computer. They don't seem too bothered about the swimming now. It's just me that feels like the day's been spoilt.

Will think on about threats in future. Make sure that the threatened punishment doesn't actually make me feel bad too. grin

difficultpickle Sat 20-Oct-12 15:09:13

I felt mean last night when ds was sobbing his heart out and saying he had been good all week in all areas except this one thing. I nearly caved in but then manned up and stuck to my guns. Hard to do though.

QTPie Sat 20-Oct-12 15:22:17

Fair, plenty of warning, consistent and firm....therefore nothing to feel guilt about.

A treat is a treat and not a right. And actions have consequences.

Valuable life lessons.

GimmeIrnBru Sat 20-Oct-12 15:33:19

Seems to me like you've done the right thing. DH was going to be taking DS1 away for a day trip earlier this week but it did not happen because DS1 was not behaving a few days beforehand. You have to mean what you say, let them know you mean business!

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sat 20-Oct-12 19:26:32

Aww bisjo it's horrible when you feel so disappointed for them.

And QT that's a good point, a treat is not a right!

difficultpickle Sat 20-Oct-12 21:11:39

True but I'm hoping when the horrible girl at school tries to get ds into trouble for the third time this term ds will remember this punishment and run off and tell a teacher (I think he is a bit embarrassed at being made to do things by a girl and finds it hard to say no to her).

MrsPnut Sat 20-Oct-12 21:28:01

I was told this by a colleague when I was a brand new social worker with a very small child "never threaten something that you can't follow through and never promise something that you can't deliver"
That has stood me in good stead since, I have very occasionally had to follow through on a threat but once you do it once or twice they realise that you mean business.
I would advise though at your kids age they are taken out for a run around and noisy time if your OH is trying to sleep. You need to think your threats through properly.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sat 20-Oct-12 23:15:52

I know MrsPnut, I know.

Fuzzymum1 Sun 21-Oct-12 12:16:33

A friend of mine got fed up with her toddler misbehaving and climbing on the the (out of bounds) stage at toddlers group. In the end she said to her 'if you keep going on the stage I will take you home' and she followed through. After a few weeks of her daughter not seeming to 'get it' she said to her 'why do you keep going on the stage because then I have to take you home and you miss the fun?' and her daughter said "When I go on the stage we go home early and I don't have to tidy up" That was a punishment that backfired for sure :D

AuntieStella Sun 21-Oct-12 12:34:14

I learned my lesson on selecting the right threat when I went for 'if you don't stop doing that, Daddy won't take you to the park this afternoon'. Which of course meant they were underfoot all day, and I didn't get my much anticipated blissful time alone.

It's the same principle isn't it? If I made the wrong threat, I had to take the consequences. Only took one time for me to get it; might take longer with a misbehaving child who is testing boundaries, but it does work.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sun 21-Oct-12 22:52:22

I sometimes look after a friends little girl who is testing the boundaries at the moment. She does something naughty and when you tell her off she just stands there and watches you. Doesn't cry at being told off, doesn't say sorry, doesn't clear up the mess or whatever it was, she just stands there, watching, as though she's biding her time and waiting to see what happens.

Gives me the creeps sometimes! Don't know if she is waiting for punishment or testing the waters.

madelineashton Sun 21-Oct-12 22:58:50

Yes, consistency as everyone else says.

I once heard a woman who had just entered Lego Land with her family (at a cost if around £100) tell her 4/5 year old that if they didn't behave then they'd all go home... Needless to say the kid didn't behave, and she looked like a complete twat for making an empty threat. All the other mums in earshot exchanged judgey glanced.

In hindsight that was a bit mean blushgrin

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