Ultimately, when our children disobey, they are making the choice to disobey. Whether it’s childishness or foolishness, they still have control over their own actions. But there are times when we parents open the door to disobedience.
The Ezzos give us many ideas to prevent misbehavior from occurring in the first place. And we know well and good that structuring their day, reducing their freedoms and choices, and ensuring healthy meals and sleep all contribute to a healthy, obedient atmosphere.
But when we don’t do all of these things, we open the door to disobedience. There are times when we put our children into situations where they are tempted to disobey.
This is what the Ezzos have to say about prevention:
“There are many excellent methods of correction available to Childwise parents, but ultimately the best form of parental correction is prevention. There is no better way to deal with behavior problems than by preventing them in the first place. Parents may find themselves correcting misbehavior that could have easily been avoided had they first considered the principles of prevention,” (On Becoming Childwise).
And here’s where the rubber meets the road:
“It is even possible that parents, by overlooking prevention, may actually be encouraging misbehavior in their children. If a parent puts a child in a situation in which he is likely to have a problem being obedient, who is really to blame for the disobedience?” (On Becoming Childwise).
The point here is not to place blame. The idea is simply that we have great power over our children’s obedience simply by being aware of the situations that could tempt them to disobey.
This is somewhat timely for me because I’ve been dealing with a situation with my boys at our homeschool co-op. There are two other boys there who bring computers, iPads, smartphones and several other devices to co-op. My boys are drawn to these devices like moths to a flame, but they also become a problem because my boys have a much more difficult time obeying my instructions when they are wrapped up in these boys’ devices.
So I have made it clear to my boys that they are not to go over to those boys’ devices unless they ask permission. And even at that, I still often say no simply because I know I will be allowing a situation that will tempt them to disobey.
Bedtime is another tricky situation. Simply by being near each other, my boys tempt each other to disobey while they’re showering, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, etc. My husband and I have eliminated that temptation by requiring them to get ready for bed in separate bathrooms.
Think of it this way:
“Just as you wouldn’t send a recovering alcoholic into a bar to test his resolve, so it may not be wise to send your excitable child into a McDonald’s play area where the other kids are running around with out-of-control ecstasy,” (On Becoming Childwise).
So think twice before putting your kids in a situation that would tempt them to disobey.