As I was leaving to go out for my morning jog, I asked my middle son who was still in bed to be up when I got back (in about 45 mins) so we could wash his bedding. I also wanted him to get up and take his plate and cup downstairs from the night before. When I returned home, he wasn’t up, so I told him I would give him a few minutes and if he didn’t get up I would pour a pint of water over him! He didn’t get up and though I was dreading what would happen if I did it, I got a pint of water, went into his bedroom and threw it over him!!! It got him up, he was furious, went mad, couldn’t believe I’d actually done it. He, his bedding, mattress and pillow all got wet. The consequences he had to pay. He also punched a hole in the built in wardrobe door in anger. At around six foot tall and a big lad and me being about 5’3″ and not very big, I was grateful it was only the door he hit! He did later apologise and also fix the wardrobe door!
He then got a glass of water and threw it back at me! I took a deep breath, thought for a moment and said “Just what I needed, nice and refreshing, I needed to cool down”. I kept in control of my emotions, I talked about me and not him, I ‘responded’ instead of ‘reacting’. I also said “Did you know the walls around gardens in Spain are much lower than the walls around gardens in England? … What’s that all about?” You might wonder what that had to do with anything. The fact is, it didn’t. It was totally irrelevant. It was side tracking and doing it changed the (emotional) state my teenager was in. Total misdirection, often used by magicians! 🙂 He was thrown off guard by my first response and then even further by my last comment. He did learn that I do what I say I will. It’s so important that we go throught with what we’ve said, or our children learn we don’t mean what we say.
Side tracking as a strategy always changes the state your teenager is in. They get confused and you’ve broken the pattern … It all changes! (Confusion in the teenage brain is a common thing, it is undergoing many changes and understanding this can help us as parents understand a lot of their behaviour) By the way, my son often talks about the incident of the water throwing and says he really didn’t think I would do it and then he couldn’t believe when he threw some back at me I actually thanked him and said what I said, the element of surprise! He also says he learnt the lesson. That I will carry out what I’ve said I am going to do. Word of caution here. Think before you state what you will do, be sure it is something you will carry out!