The cold wetness seeped through the thin cotton of the clean socks Jen had pulled on only moments before. Screwing her face up, she let her head fall back and from between flattened lips hissed a tirade of unprintable words. That little sod has done it again, she thought to herself. He’s 8 years old for crying out loud. He has the ability effectively target and hit an undersea monster with a torpedo shot from his sub at light speed on his bloody Nintendo; what’s so difficult about peeing in the blasted toilet? It’s not like it’s not big enough and I haven’t yelled at him like a million times about it. Peeling off the soggy socks that reeked of strong “first leak of the morning” pee with two figures, Anna tossed them on the side of the laundry basket to “dry” for washing. Opening the cupboard under the basin she reached in for rubber gloves, cleaning fluid and a cloth. Kneeling before the toilet bowl, carefully to avoid the offending yellow puddles, she prepared to clean up her son’s spillages…
Sound familiar? The age old battle of trying to get a boy to pee in the toilet bowl and not on or down the side of it strikes again.
Here’s a great tip to help resolve the problem once and for all.
- Don’t clean it up.
- March into your son’s lair.
- Hand him all the paraphernalia he’ll require to clean up his pee himself.
- Stand behind him and watch him clean up his pee himself and do this every time he “misses”.
- Advise him that as of now, every time he “misses”, he has to clean it up.
- If he has to be reminded to clean it up more than three times in one week, he has to clean the toilet after EVERYONE in the family every day for a week.
- Be consequent. Be strong. Don’t give in.
There aren’t many 8 year old boys who would willingly and happily clean up the toilet after themselves let alone after anyone else. And yes, there’s no way they’ll clean up as well as you do but, that’s not the point. Your aim is not to teach them to clean up properly; it’s to make the effort not to make the mess in the first place. After a few times of carrying out this unpleasant task, he’ll quickly learn to be a little more careful with his aim.
The point of this story, is to offer an example of an age appropriate consequence for a 5-9 year old that is also relevant to the undesirable behaviour.
Small consequences like this are the way younger children learn, in the soft, loving environment of their own home, how to take responsibility for their own actions or inactions. No matter how often Anna nagged to remind him to pee accurately, it wasn’t important to her son because there were never any negative repercussions when he did miss other than her nagging at him… again! The minute he became the one that had to deal with the unpleasantness of cleaning up is the moment it became important TO HIM. He began to try and figure out ways he could avoid the unpleasantness of cleaning up and eventually realised it was easier to make the effort to aim accurately in the first place than keep cleaning up afterwards!
It’s never to early to start. Soft, controlled consequences in a loving environment provide your child with opportunities to learn how to take responsibility for their own actions and inactions that will help them to make better judgements about the actions and inactions they do, or not, when they become adults and the stakes are a little higher than just a pee on the floor!
Here are a few other age appropriate consequences and rewards for 5-9 year olds.
Potential Consequences (Age 5-9)
- Loss of TV Privileges (Don’t be arbitrary. Keep it specific time limit and schedule. For example: No TV for 2 days)
- Loss of Video Games (Again, keep it specific)
- Loss of Computer Time (Ditto above)
- Removal of Xbox Control for Period of Time
- Going to Bed Early (Specify a time)
- Doing Additional Chores (Specific to the behaviour. For example: cleaning the toilet after “accidents”).
- Loss of Points (Which Accumulate Towards Daily/Weekly Bonus Rewards)
Potential Rewards (Age 5-9)
- Extra TV, Video, Computer Game Time
- Time off From Regular Chores
- Staying Up Late
- Playdate or a Sleepover
- Daily/Weekly Bonus Rewards
- Points (Which Accumulate Towards Daily/Weekly Bonus Rewards)
Ideas for Daily/Weekly Bonus Rewards
- Playing a Game of their Choice
- Extra One on One Time with Parent of Choice (be prepared, this will probably be the one who’s not doling out the consequences – good parenting is not about being popular!)
- A Special Treat Activity (i.e., Cinema, Going for Ice Cream, etc.)
- A Special Gift (Inexpensive Toy or Sweets)
- Trip to the Playground
- Extra Story Read to Them
- Special Video/Movie Evening with Popcorn, etc.
Consider just one minor battle you’re regularly having with one of your “adults in training”. Consider an appropriate consequence and impose it this week.
Over the coming weeks, work on one niggle at a time and start teaching your child how to take responsibility for their actions and inactions.
If you’d like to learn more about how to set kids age appropriate consequences and see them through, I’m writing a book that teaches exactly that, along with many practical ways parents can teach their kids the essential, everyday life skills they’ll need to grow into responsible adults. Sign up below to hear more about the book and get a discount when it’s released.