It’s no surprise to most of us that we have consequences for our actions. There are times we don’t do something we are supposed to or we do the wrong thing and we have to suffer the outcome from it. I’m sure many of you reading this are near my age and so we have known for years about what it means to have consequences. We also know that when we do something we shouldn’t or don’t do something we should something will probably happen that we aren’t going to like. At what age did we start to learn the meaning of a consequence? I’m not sure I can remember exactly. There are times when I look back on my childhood and I can clearly remember that I did this or that and what my punishment was for doing so. However, i can’t remember the exact age that I realized what a consequence was.
With having a five and a six year old we are just now starting to really learn what it means to have consequences. I mean we’ve always had them. The kids have received time outs for not following directions or had to put a quarter in the naughty jar for saying a bad word and so on. Even in doing these two things I don’t think they ever fully grasped what it meant to suffer a consequence. This all changed last night! It was a rough lesson for my son and I hated that he had to go through it, but it was necessary given the situation.
My son is very shy and very sensitive and for this reason I think I’ve sort of babied him for the last six years of his life. Kindergarten was a blessing for us. It brought him out of his shell and instilled a confidence in him that I hadn’t seen before. He’s a different child than he was a year ago, but he’s still overly sensitive. My son has homework Monday-Thursday. He does the same thing every week, but different assignments based on what they are learning that week. He brings a red folder home each night and all of his homework gets done and returned to school on Friday to be checked. This week his folder was not brought home on Wednesday or Thursday because he simply forgot it.
Now, I typically empty out backpacks the second we walk in the door after school. I pull out any homework or papers that I need to see and set them aside for later. Earlier in the year he forgot to bring his folder home. It was on a Monday. The newsletter comes out on Monday that has all the spelling words for his homework during the week on it. Once he realized it, he of course started to panic. I told him not to worry, we’d run up to the school and grab it. We live just a few blocks from the school so it’s rather convenient at times like this. So on Wednesday when he forgot the folder it wasn’t a huge deal. We had the newsletter so we knew what the words were for the week and Wednesday is a sentence day so that was easily taken care of. Well yesterday we were busy after school, had errands to run after we picked my husband up from work and so we didn’t get home until later. When we got home I told him to grab a quick bath and then we’d start homework. Then I realized the folder wasn’t there. This time there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I didn’t have the math sheets for him to work on.
This is where learning about consequences comes into play. Immediately he starts having a fit and crying because he doesn’t want to do homework at recess. My husband decided to call a co-worker whose son is our son’s class to see about getting a copy of the homework sheet. I decided to step up and be what I’m sure my son considered mean in that moment. I thought that it was time he learned the consequence of not bringing home his homework folder. I knew that if we continued to find ways to get his folder for him after he’d forgotten it he’d never learn. He’d just expect that mom and dad would pick up the slack for him. So I told him that we were not going to be finding the homework for him. That he needed to understand what it was like to have to suffer a consequence for his actions. I was pretty sure that if he had to miss recess in order to finish his homework it probably wouldn’t happen again. He went to bed crying and I didn’t really feel good about that at all. However, he did wake up and asked if we could get to school a little early so he could get a start on his homework. I thought that was pretty good thinking on his part.
He’s not home yet from school today so I’m not sure what kind of impact this lesson had on him. I will soon find out. I feel that I was right in letting him learn this particular lesson. If it happens again I’ll be surprised, but if it does then I will once again stand my ground and go about it the same way I did this time.