Sunday, June 2, 2013

Natural Consequences

We have really tried our best to guide and/or advise our kids while still letting them stumble and fall.  We generally like to let them enjoy the natural consequences of their actions.

When Syd procrastinated on a project for school (albeit a very pointless, stupid project [but we did our best to keep our opinions to ourselves]), she received a not-so-great grade on it.  Actually, she received two not-so-great grades on it bringing her average down.  Natural consequence.

When Liam lost his jacket on the playground, I made him buy a new one with his own money.  Natural consequence.

Evan knows that his not learning how to ride a bike means he can't keep up with his camping buddies while they toodle around the campsite on their monthly trips.  Natural consequence.

But at what point are natural consequences not enough of a punishment for your child?

Syd has always had a sensitive stomach.  She cannot stay up too late or eat too much junk food because her stomach will get upset.  She has known this for a long time.

We've let her suffer the consequences: having to come home early from a sleepover, having to sit through church with a queasy stomach, having everyone at camping call her "the girl who always throws up".  All natural consequences for something she has to learn to regulate herself.

I thought we'd finally turned a corner on this issue when we went to a swim party with a bunch of her friends yesterday evening.  While several of her friends completely pigged out, she only had a couple of pieces of pizza, a small drink and bit of ice cream.  She even sat on the side of the pool for a good 15 minutes after eating while watching her friends play so that her stomach could settle.  I was so proud of her for regulating her food choices and activity level.

And then the pool party ended (at her usual bedtime) and what did she do?  She grabbed another piece of now cold (and greasy) pizza and another sugary drink.  She took her shower and went to bed well after her usual bedtime and I warned her that I didn't want to hear about an upset stomach before church the next morning.

Lo and behold, I go to wake her up this morning and she has a throw-up bowl next to her pillow.  I simply said, "You're lighting the candles this morning.  It's time to get up."  She asked for dry cereal for breakfast and spent forever in the bathroom, but I'll give her credit that she didn't say a word to me about her stomach.  She (sneakily) asked Ryan for some medicine while I gave the dog his morning walk and we headed out the door.

I dropped everyone off at the door of the church due to the rain and as soon as my soaked self sat down in our pew, Ryan told me Syd was sick in the bathroom with my niece keeping watch over her.

I wanted to scream.

When is she going to learn?  At what point are natural consequences not enough?  I don't think I should have to tell my now ten year old what she can and cannot eat.  When is she going to learn this for herself?

I helped her clean herself up, cleaned up the toilet and thankfully they found someone to fill in for her.  And then we left a mere five minutes after getting there and five minutes before the service started.

She's now in her room "resting" and I took away her access to all electronics because if she's "sick" then she needs to rest.

But for how long?  The rest of the day?  Do the rest of us have to have our afternoon plans ruined (and we had something really fun planned) because she can't get a handle on this?

What is the correct term for this situation?  Maddening?  Frustrating?  Bewildering?

Or do I call it what it is - parenting?

Do other parents have to deal with this sort of thing, too?


  1. We don't have the stomach issues, but we do have the self-control issues here. There have been many times the whole family has had to miss something due to a rude outburst. This happens a lot in the summer when I am the only home with them all day.

    I would say find a way she can stay home if possible, but I know how hard it is when you have others who did nothing wrong you don't want to punish as well. Anyway she can go along yet sit out and watch? That might be effective.

    I know sometimes when my kids miss church for being "sick". (they have all faked a few times to get out of it), he will interrupt their fun Sunday evening or Wednesday evening and take them then.

  2. Unfortunately, I know TOOOOOO many adults who can't seem to control their behavior with food/beverage, either. I, too, have fallen off the right track a bit lately. For my own management of consequences, I make sure to always pack/have available acceptable foods. So, yes, I may have a piece of XYZ but only after I basically fill up on my acceptable food. Maybe while it is fresh on her mind, ask her how she thinks you could help her avoid this problem in the future? I have a great paleo pizza that we use (of course, I only have a toddler). Jennifer