Nice vs. Kind

QUESTION: 

What exactly is a second chance? I offer my daughter a “second chance” every night when we are brushing her teeth, because she throws water on the floor. I’m getting tired of cleaning it up, but I want her to know she always has a second chance with me!

Answer:

A second chance is something that happens when:

  1. You make a rash decision
  2. You realize something is more important than you thought
  3. You think about it and realize there isn’t a good reason for your decision
  4. You decide you’re not willing to back up your decision
  5. You see that your children are trying to clarify the boundaries and they seem to have it now, so you’re willing to let them try again.

When the routine every time includes a “second chance,” then that’s not really a true second chance – that is actually a chance to do something unacceptably, and you have built that into the nightly routine. Every night she gets to dump water on the floor one time.

When you first started having her at the sink, it’s appropriate to give her a second, or even a third chance, to be successful, during the teaching time. I would expect after a week, two at the most, to only have an occasional need for a second chance (when she’s extra tired or really testing the boundaries). After a month I’d expect no water on the floor or the play is done (except for true accidents). To continue a nightly “second chance” means that you have built into the routine one opportunity to slop the water. If you really don’t want the water slopped, I’d sit her down and explain that it’s not okay at all anymore, and if it happens once then she’s done at the sink. And I’d stick with it. If you’re okay with the water being on the floor one time, I’d probably reword this as well, so that she doesn’t misunderstand “second chance.” I’d say, “Water may get on the floor once. The second time, play is done.”

QUESTION:

My 4-year-old son refuses to say, “Please,” and “Thank you.” He used to say them when prompted, but then wouldn’t. At the time, I didn’t choose this battle because I didn’t think it was a big deal.  But maybe I should have.  What do you think?

Answer:

I never require my children to say them, only remind them. I will say, “Say, ‘Thank you,'”  but not really expect them to say it. I also say, “Thank you” to them when appropriate. When it comes to others, I say it for them.

Courtesy is learned. Children will do what they see being done around them, and some children need room to know they will be loved with or without manners.

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