Teaching toddlers consequences – why I can never go back to football again
Today was a day of consequences.
(Nearly) no going to see friends this afternoon.
Today was one of those days where by 11.07am I was thinking, ‘flip, I honestly don’t know if I’ll make it to the end of the day’, and where I found myself wondering, ‘how early is too early for a G&T?’ (Don’t worry, I know 11.07am is too early.)
This morning, we went to a toddler football session. Big brother was very excited and ran all the way to the park. We then waited outside the astroturf courts for the people running the session to arrive. At this point, I still had high hopes for our day. Having little brother woken by a stray ball kicked into the buggy by some kids having a PE lesson was a little frustrating but Big brother’s football excitement (and some enthusiastic pushchair jiggling) kept us going.
So, the other kids arrived and the people leading the session. We had some fun just kicking a ball around. Big brother doing a lot of carrying the ball rather than kicking but still having fun. His enthusiasm probably began to wane when I accidentally knocked him over and he fell to the ground, face-first. In my defence, it’s really hard to dribble a football and hold a toddler’s hand at the same time. Especially when you’re as clumsy as I am.
Anyway, not injured but losing interest, he chose to sit with me whilst I fed Little brother at the side of the court and use cones to make himself a picture.
Long story short, I can never go back to football again.
It all ended rather abruptly with me attempting to physically restrain Big brother (unsuccessfully) whilst flashing my boob as Little brother dangled from me mid-feed.
Cue twenty minutes sat outside of the court whilst I finished feeding Little Brother and Big brother complained about how hungry he was and insisting I magic a snack out of nowhere.
To his credit he did then ask to go back to apologise. By this point I’d made it clear we were no longer going to the park after football as a consequence of his actions and ask we walked away he said, “oh, I said sorry. Park now?”
Isn’t that such a hard lesson? Just saying sorry isn’t enough. There are consequences to your actions.
And let’s be honest isn’t it also a hard thing to parent? I’ve worked really hard to go down the linked consequences route rather than random punishment to help my kid learn the effect his actions have.
I know that it’s so important to always follow through, to make it clear that I mean it when I give a consequence. I remember my parents saying they missed out on parties when one of them had to stay home with one of us kids as a consequence (I say one of us, I think in this instance it was my brother using a permanent marker on my white trainers).
Figuring out an effective consequence in that moment, one that isn’t too painful for me and sticking to it can be really hard. Particularly as the day goes on and I’d really like to plonk my kid in front of ‘beebies!
What stories have you got of giving your kids consequences? Ever thrown out one you regretted later?
N.B. If you read this and think, ‘well that seems to get a bit inconsistent/harder to read towards the end’, then that my friend is because as I write this Little brother is sleeping on me doing that awful sleepy sob, occasionally waking to scream, after having had his first immunisations today. Phew. What a day.