How do you motivate people to get them to do what you want? Do you give them an incentive? “Hey, come help me move and I will give you pizza, beer, and make your genitals orgasm.” Do you threaten them? “If you don’t help me move then I am going to shit in your mouth while you are sleeping.” Or do you expect them to do things because it is the “right” thing to do? “Come help me move because you are my friend and I need your assistance.”
Philosophically we should be kind, thoughtful, and selfless all the time. We shouldn’t do things because we are seduced or emotionally manipulated – but rather out of righteousness and nobility. I want to do good things for goodness sake. Being good should be all the provocation we need to do good.
Yeah… but people don’t always operate that way. We are all busy, or at least feel busy, and sometimes need prodding. There is nothing like a jab in the ass to get your attention am I right?
Theoretically I want to raise my child where she is completely driven by rationality and kindness. I don’t want to always rely on, yelling, bribing, or arguing to get Munch to do things. I want there to be some reasonable conversations that lead to making a collective decision about what is best. I try to plant seeds to remind The Munch that there are consequences she should be aware of – and I am often looking out for her best interests. If you eat too much sugar, your tummy will hurt. If you don’t go to bed, you will be tired and cranky. If you don’t wash your hands after the bathroom, you will get fecal matter on them that will eventually get in your mouth. Although The Munch has an understanding that there are costs to certain actions, that doesn’t mean she always gives a shit.
Not every request you make with your child can be a 30-minute debate. Sometimes you just want them to do something – like say brush their fucking teeth – and you don’t want to dispute why holes in your teeth is not desirable for the 400th time. There are days when I have the energy to appeal to her rational side, and there are days where I take a short cut and create a consequence if she doesn’t listen.
Kids are not stupid and they pick up on your strategies. Even though The Munch will comply if I say “If you don’t turn off The Little Mermaid and come take a bath then I won’t let you watch the Little Mermaid anymore” that doesn’t mean she isn’t taking notes.
Now she is starting to throw this culture of consequences back in my face. When she wants to do something and I say “no” she then creates a consequence to motivate me. Although I have to say, her threats are way more twisted and demented than mine have ever been.
“Mom, if you don’t let me have a treat then I will rip your face off.”
“Mom, if you don’t let me watch a movie then I will take your computer and throw it outside in the rain.”
“Mom, if you don’t let me stay up I will stomp on your toes with my high heel shoes.”
“Mom, if you don’t bring my baby upstairs then I will take all your clothes, put them in the toilet, and flush it.”