I caught myself using one of my old teacher tricks on Jonathan the other night. He was listening to something on the computer and had the volume turned WAY up. I was washing dishes nearby and my ears were starting to bleed, so I said....
"The music needs to be turned down.... THANK you."
Not so bad, one thinks upon first glance.
But first of all, I said thank you before he'd turned down the music. And therein lies the remant of the old bag of tricks. I can distinctly remember the veteran teaching advice.
Set the expectation clearly.... Make the assumption that the child will obey your command... When he hears you thank him he will realize he needs to quickly catch up and earn that thank you....
Sometimes coyly termed controlled choice, it's a way of railroading a child into doing what you want. I used to do it. I used to think it was a grand method. I used to believe and do a lot of things that now make me shudder uncontrollably and my eyes roll so far back into my head they may never come back down.
I realize that along the entire spectrum of parenting this ranks somewhere between "what's so bad about that" and "quit being so anal." But for me it's a marker that there are still some nasty little remnants floating around inside that need to be purged. I'm slowly unloading the ol' baggage, trolling the inner self, sifting through the sediment that's sunk to the bottom to see if I can't rid myself of those last hangers-on of my teaching days, mainstream parenting days, and caring-more-about-what-others-think-than-what-my-child-needs days.
And even though this isolated incident didn't really seem monumental, and largely went unregistered on Jonathan's radar, I feel better for having caught myself mid-stream, re-evaluated, and changed direction.
"Sorry, bud, I just mean the music is hurting my ears - would you mind turning it down a bit?"
So simple. So much better.