In the last few weeks we have found a new way to get through to OBoy about bedtime and the rules thereof. The punishment route was just not working. He continued to get out of bed and break other rules around bedtime in the face of consequences. Then, we had a good night and I felt like he deserved a reward for the good choices he had made the night before, so I gave him a sticker in the morning and told him how proud of him I was.
Hello, light bulb moment. Reward for good behavior = good behavior.
So now, any morning after he obeys the bedtime rules, OBoy gets a sticker first thing when we get downstairs from getting up and getting dressed. This has worked fabulously for a while. Obviously, we still have slip ups and battles here and there, but O man is it worlds better than it was for a while.
One of those battle nights happened last week. I heard little feet running around upstairs when they should have been under the sheets, so I went up to talk to OBoy. I told him that I was very sad and that he wouldn’t be getting a sticker tomorrow morning. O, his face, you guys. He was genuinely heart broken. He cried. I comforted him some, but by the time I left his room he was still pretty distraught.
A few minutes passed and he was not on the road to recovering. I went up again to talk to him. The moment I opened the door to his room, he apologized to me unprompted. He seemed truly repentant and saddened by his choices.
I took the teachable moment and I ran with it.
We talked about forgiveness, about how God forgives us and how we are supposed to forgive like God does, and how to forgive is to make the bad choice go away. And we talked about grace. We talked about how it is God’s kindness, his love, his grace that is how He forgives us and how we can forgive others. It was so beautiful. We sat there on his bed, OBrother already asleep in the crib next to us, and we dove deep into the love of God. I tried to frame The Eternal in a way that made sense to the preschool mind. Thankful, so thankful for the opportunity to do so.
We established that because OBoy had apologized and wanted to do better next time (repentant), that he was forgiven, his bad choice was gone, and that he still had the chance to get a sticker tomorrow morning.
What an amazing image. I pulled up his sheets, kissed his head, and left his room, heart full.
A few minutes pass, and I’m back downstairs.
::pitter patter pitter patter::
The unmistakable sound of toddler feet racing across the floor overhead.
I move quite quickly up the stairs and open the boys’ bedroom door. It was not all the way open before I hear “I sorry, Mommy. Now it gone and you forgib me and I can hab sticker tomorrow.”