please help me find the natural consequence to this situation... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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so my 3.5 yr old son started pouring water from a play bucket in the tub onto the floor of the bathroom while my husband was toweling off dd in the adjacent room. when he returned, there was 2 inches of water on the floor! my husband explained to him that he had already asked him not to pour water out of the tub, and since he didn't listen, he can't watch his nightly video tonight.

ds is crying, "i want to watch mighty machines!" and we feel lost. we live in a apt, so the natural consequence of water on the floor is it leaking into the apt below. but, obviously, this is something my son can't grasp.

so what should we do in this situation? how can we make a better choice of how to deal with this?
many thanks!
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#2 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 08:27 PM
 
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I think taking away his video is a good solution. I would say to maybe read some books together instead, but that might send out the "books are punishment" message which is a horrible solution! Did he help clean up the mess? I would have continued your nightly routine, minus his video, and maybe just gone to bed a little earlier. Don't forget to still snuggle with him though. I just started reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and he mentioned a situation when his just turned 4 year old daughter didn't follow through with an agreement they had made and screamed so loud that she woke her infant brother. This really hit home with me:

Unconditional parenting isn't a fancy term for letting kids do whatever they want. It's very important (once the storm has passed), to teach, to reflect togethr - which is exactly what we did with our daughter after we read her a story. Whatever lesson we hoped to impart was far more likely to be learned if she knew that our love for her was undimmed by how she had acted.

I think there are a lot of parents out there that would just send their child to bed in anger.

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#3 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 08:37 PM
 
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How do you feel about having him help clean up the water and explaining that the video time was used up cleaning. Perhaps the priviledge of having buckets in the bath needs to be rethought until he is willing to try to keep the water in the tub. He's still really young to remember which offenses are really big to grownups and which things are just preferences. (My boys are almost 7 and 9, he will learn over time. A video watched or missed won't be what gets it in his head, just patience and time, repetition in teaching)
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#4 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 08:44 PM
 
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At 3.5, it's tough to get logical or natural consequences working how we want them to. In similar scenarios (and we've had 'em - my guy LOVES to pour water!), I try to get him to help clean up, flat out. If he won't, I point out that it will take me longer on my own (not really true!), and so I won't be able to get him his video, his snack, whatever, right away - he will have to wait while I clean up. I have also taken away something on the same logic - we don't have time for a video because cleaning this up by myself will take up the time.

I'm not sure how ideal/effective/right this technique is...I'm just telling you what I do!

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#5 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 08:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ja mama View Post
How do you feel about having him help clean up the water and explaining that the video time was used up cleaning.
That was going to be my suggestion.

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#6 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 08:49 PM
 
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I agree with having him help clean up (even if his 'help' makes more work for you) and then the "video time was spent cleaning" makes sense. Taking away a video just because he dumped water in the bathtub does seem like a rather arbitrary consequence, but making it about "time spent cleaning up' makes it more connected.

What I would do is take away the play bucket for a while, and then make it a "supervised activity" for a while after he gets it back. I'd probably take away ALL bath toys that can be used in that manner as well.

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#7 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 08:51 PM
 
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I have to say that I don't look for consequences for things like that. I've found that a sad voice, concern over the neighbor's appartments etc, tends to get the message home. And if he asks for something as you're cleaning up, the answer is no, the priority must be to clean up the mess.

Then I'd make sure that I remind him next time he takes a bath, and the next, and the next. If he didn't take notice, I'd take away the pouring items except for very supervised times, and explain why. That is a practical measure you might need to take, and if you do, he will learn from it. But I'd only do that if it was a practical necessity, not as a 'consequence'. And I'd honestly expect more of the same, either water on the floor, or flour across the counter, or soap pumped into the toilet, or......... over the next year or so. Each time, I patiently and clearly explain that it's not OK, and eventually, eventually, the message gets through. Or at least, it has with my 6 & 8 yo. They don't do stuff like that any more. As for my 4 yo, that's another story.

I'm not into giving consequences, however you dress them up as natural, especailly when there isn't one. I don't think they help in the long run. If you do a consequence, which in my mind is a punishment with a more acceptable name, you'll focus his mind on feeling angry about that. If you explain, repeatedly, exaggerating the tone, about why we don't want to flood the appartment below, he is far more likely to learn the lesson that you want him to learn - that it's not OK to pour water on floors.

JMO.
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#8 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 09:52 PM
 
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Not watching the video is a punishment. Punishments do not teach good behavior. At best they stop bad behavior. In a child this young it is not very likely this punishment will stop water pouring.

Lets look at whose responsibility the water mess is. An adult leaves a 3 year old unattended in a room with water in the tub. A child that young should not be left alone for safety reasons. You know this child pours water. This is a bad choice of the adult. The consequence for that adult is that he has to clean up the water. The child should not be punished when the adult was foolish enough to let the problem happen.

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#9 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 09:56 PM
 
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The natural consequence to your husband's leaving a 3.5 year old in the bathroom with a full tub, is that the water ends up all over the floor.
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#10 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 10:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by foreverinbluejeans View Post
Not watching the video is a punishment. Punishments do not teach good behavior. At best they stop bad behavior. In a child this young it is not very likely this punishment will stop water pouring.

Lets look at whose responsibility the water mess is. An adult leaves a 3 year old unattended in a room with water in the tub. A child that young should not be left alone for safety reasons. You know this child pours water. This is a bad choice of the adult. The consequence for that adult is that he has to clean up the water. The child should not be punished when the adult was foolish enough to let the problem happen.
Indeed, that's what I was thinking.

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#11 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 10:20 PM
 
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The natural consequence to your husband's leaving a 3.5 year old in the bathroom with a full tub, is that the water ends up all over the floor.
I have to agree with this, a 3.5 year old who doesn't have the judgement not to pour water on the floor doesn't have the judgement not to stand up or do something else dangerous.

In my house, the logical consequence of this behavior would be to be lifted out of the tub and told the bathtime is over, but that would require and adult to be in the room supervising.
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#12 of 28 Old 04-01-2009, 10:28 PM
 
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How do you feel about having him help clean up the water and explaining that the video time was used up cleaning.
:

But I also agree that the situation could have been avoided by better supervision and no buckets available

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#13 of 28 Old 04-02-2009, 12:19 AM
 
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at 3.5, DD could definitely bathe safely by herself. But yes, she was a danger to the floor. That floor needs re-tiling anyway.
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#14 of 28 Old 04-02-2009, 12:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for all the speedy replies.

in response to those questioning the safety of this situation, there was no danger to my son. the tub was draining, so the water level was low, and my husband was in an adjacent room, with the door open. he was just drying off our daughter before it was my son's turn to come out.

this all happened in the space of a minute (yes, our bathroom is that small). i'm sure we've seen our kids get into stuff in the blink of an eye.

i guess i'm just bummed out that some of the responses imply that my son was left unsupervised in a dangerous situation, when that certainly was not the case.

and, my "foolish" husband did clean up the water, since the wet floor was a slipping hazard while my son sat safely in an empty bathtub.
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#15 of 28 Old 04-02-2009, 01:22 AM
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In my house, the logical consequence of this behavior would be to be lifted out of the tub and told the bathtime is over.
We do this too. But if I catch my DD when she is starting to pour the water, I take away the cup or bucket being used. I also tell her that this is a bathroom not a pond and we don't want to break the floor. My DD is also 3, but has loved trying to turn the bathroom into a pond since she was about 13 months old. She doesn't do it often anymore.
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#16 of 28 Old 04-02-2009, 11:10 AM
 
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I agree with having him help clean up (even if his 'help' makes more work for you) and then the "video time was spent cleaning" makes sense. Taking away a video just because he dumped water in the bathtub does seem like a rather arbitrary consequence, but making it about "time spent cleaning up' makes it more connected.
I agree with this, especially the bolded part - BUT, I think you have to tread very carefully connecting the two, and don't overemote it/overact it, or it becomes that kind of creepy manipulation that bugs me when it's a "see, what you did made me have to do this so you missed out on this" scenario that I think is pretty easy to fall into as a regular thing, that can backfire into kids doing it to the parents (blaming something the parent did messing up something they were doing, KWIM?). I think that *can* be a legitimate tool in some situations, but I think, as I said above, you need to tread carefully with it.

In our house, kiddo would help me mop up the water while talking about why water needs to stay in the tub, and the bucket wouldn't be used the next night with a reminder why. The night after that though, the bucket would be reintroduced, with a reminder that water needs to stay in the tub andif it came out of the tub, they'd have to play with something else for a few nights instead of the bucket. (I actually dealt with a similar situation with cups so it wasn't as much water volume, but same idea).

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#17 of 28 Old 04-02-2009, 02:32 PM
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The natural consequence to your husband's leaving a 3.5 year old in the bathroom with a full tub, is that the water ends up all over the floor.
ditto!

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In my house, the logical consequence of this behavior would be to be lifted out of the tub and told the bath time is over, but that would require and adult to be in the room supervising.
this is what we had to do when mine went through that phase. and also letting them know as I did this "if you are done with bath time you can say 'im all done mommy' instead of dumping the water out" as I lifted them out

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Taking away a video just because he dumped water in the bathtub does seem like a rather arbitrary consequence.
I agree with that, but wouldn't have tied it to the video game thing at all. I would ask him to help clean up, if not I would clean it up myself, and next time be more prepared to handle the situation by having another parent dry off the other child, or dry the other child off while still in the bathroom.
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#18 of 28 Old 04-03-2009, 12:41 PM
 
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In our house, kiddo would help me mop up the water while talking about why water needs to stay in the tub, and the bucket wouldn't be used the next night with a reminder why. The night after that though, the bucket would be reintroduced, with a reminder that water needs to stay in the tub andif it came out of the tub, they'd have to play with something else for a few nights instead of the bucket. (I actually dealt with a similar situation with cups so it wasn't as much water volume, but same idea).
Yep, yep, and yep. This course of action has always seemed to work well in our house. Direct connect consequence.

If you make the mess, then you clean it up. Period. (with age appropriate help)

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#19 of 28 Old 04-03-2009, 05:08 PM
 
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How do you feel about having him help clean up the water and explaining that the video time was used up cleaning. Perhaps the priviledge of having buckets in the bath needs to be rethought until he is willing to try to keep the water in the tub. He's still really young to remember which offenses are really big to grownups and which things are just preferences. (My boys are almost 7 and 9, he will learn over time. A video watched or missed won't be what gets it in his head, just patience and time, repetition in teaching)
:

he was unsupervised in a dangerous situation. that may sound harsh, but a 3.5 year old could fall, hit his head, and drown in 1 inch of water in the time it took your DH to get your DD dried off.

like a pp said, if he doesn't have the impulse control to keep the water in the tub (which i really wouldn't expect of him at this age!) he doesn't have the impulse control to keep himself in a potentially dangerous situation.
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#21 of 28 Old 04-03-2009, 11:03 PM
 
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at 3.5, DD could definitely bathe safely by herself. But yes, she was a danger to the floor. That floor needs re-tiling anyway.

My calm, well behaved, not impulsive, very coordinated, swam like a fish 6 year old slipped in the bathtub while I was in the adjoining room for "a blink of an eye".

He wasn't doing anything I'd have considered unsafe, just moved slightly up onto his knees so he could wash his butt, and somehow slipped and fell forward and hit his head. It didn't make a sound, until he started crying.

Thank god he hit his mouth (and broke 2 permanent teeth) and not say his forehead. If he had lost consciousness he could well have drowned, even if very shallow water.
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#22 of 28 Old 04-03-2009, 11:41 PM
 
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im not sure but my son did this too and we ended up giving him a bucket like a big mop bucket and he loves pouring water into it instead of the floor- try it!

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#23 of 28 Old 04-04-2009, 04:26 AM
 
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In my opinion, it would be harder to grasp the connection between not watching a video and water on the floor, than having to take care of the neighbors! However, speaking to the neighbors might be too novel of an experience (and more like a reward) so I think that the more natural consequence would not be ideal, either.

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The natural consequence to your husband's leaving a 3.5 year old in the bathroom with a full tub, is that the water ends up all over the floor.
ditto!

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In my house, the logical consequence of this behavior would be to be lifted out of the tub and told the bath time is over, but that would require and adult to be in the room supervising.
I have to agree. I know, he was out for a second, the apartment is small, and I've done it myself, but I always run back in fear and it really is a mistake. But leaving aside the safety issue, the best thing would be to have him clean it up and explain about the neighbours and tell him how embarrassed you are that you may have to speak to the neighbors.

If he does it again, or attempts it while you are there, I would remove the toy that is used for dumping.

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#24 of 28 Old 04-04-2009, 08:48 AM
 
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My calm, well behaved, not impulsive, very coordinated, swam like a fish 6 year old slipped in the bathtub while I was in the adjoining room for "a blink of an eye".

He wasn't doing anything I'd have considered unsafe, just moved slightly up onto his knees so he could wash his butt, and somehow slipped and fell forward and hit his head. It didn't make a sound, until he started crying.

Thank god he hit his mouth (and broke 2 permanent teeth) and not say his forehead. If he had lost consciousness he could well have drowned, even if very shallow water.
And that could just as well happen to you or I.
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#25 of 28 Old 04-04-2009, 12:08 PM
 
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I try to keep my DS supervised with the toys and if he can't use them properly, I take them away. Then we try again next time. I'd definitely take the buckets away when it is time to take DD out of the tub. Maybe clean up most of the toys before she gets out, leaving some things that don't dump/squirt water in there for him to play with while she gets dried off. That would probably be the best short-term solution.
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#26 of 28 Old 04-04-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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Oh, I really like the idea of giving DD a bigger bucket to pour into while she's in the tub!

I've gotten by so far with telling her (2.5) to keep the water in the tub, and if she pours it out, I say something like "Bath time is over, I guess! You could say "I'm all done, Mama!" instead of pouring out the water!" as I lift her out, start to drain the tub and towel her off.
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#27 of 28 Old 04-04-2009, 09:08 PM
 
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My almost three-year -old ds plays in the tub alone while I am in the next room. The bathroom door is open and if he is too quiet I check on him. He is big enough now that if he slips in the water he can get back up again. My one year old dd cannot so I supervise her constantly in the tub.Theoretically I could slip and bump my head and drown if I took a bath alone bus I still do it. It is dangerous just to be alive, kwim?

I would have tooken away his bedtime movie since he was told beforehand NOT to put water and the floor and he did anyway. Kids are smart. If he heard then he knew he should not do it but did anyway. I believe children are much smarter then we give them credit for. But why listen when it is more fun not to and you think you can get away with it?
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#28 of 28 Old 04-04-2009, 11:40 PM
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Not watching the video is a punishment. Punishments do not teach good behavior. At best they stop bad behavior. In a child this young it is not very likely this punishment will stop water pouring.

Lets look at whose responsibility the water mess is. An adult leaves a 3 year old unattended in a room with water in the tub. A child that young should not be left alone for safety reasons. You know this child pours water. This is a bad choice of the adult. The consequence for that adult is that he has to clean up the water. The child should not be punished when the adult was foolish enough to let the problem happen.
:

I never blamed my kids for that when I had to leave the bathroom for whatever reason during their baths. I learned my lesson after doing it just once or twice though! Kids at that age are really too impulsive with poor self control and pouring the water is too fun/tempting for them. It's not their fault, really. I don't think any amount of punishments would stop this. You just have to watch them in the bath and wait till they grow out of it.
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