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No Ice Skating Allowed

Six-year-old Jennifer was excited. Her 17-year-old sister, Liz, had told her that she was going ice-skating and Jennifer could go with her and her friends. Later that morning, Ben, a neighbor child Jennifer’s age came over to play. They played together well for awhile but then Jennifer began to tire of Ben. She became bossy, then argumentative, and not wanting to share her toys. At one point Jennifer hit Ben, making him cry. Mom then intervened sending Ben home and Jennifer to her room.

Later Mom called Jennifer for lunch. Jennifer didn’t come quickly so Mom went to her room to get her. As they headed back to the kitchen Mom noticed a long scratch down the hallway wall. “Jennifer, what’s this scratch?” asked Mom. “I don’t know,” replied Jennifer. “Well,” responded Mom, “this wasn’t here before I sent you to your room.”

At that point Liz came home ready for lunch. Liz said, “Mom, I’m going skating this afternoon with my friends, I told Jennifer I’d take her along if it was alright with you.” Mom looked at Jennifer in disbelief about the entire experience.

What would your response be to this child?

“Oh, I wish you could go,” said Mom. “It would have been fun going skating and hanging out with Liz. But, since you’ve ruined the wall you’ll need to be here with me earning money to buy supplies to fix the wall. I’ll be giving you chores to do with me today and days afterward to work off these supplies. We’ll need to buy sandpaper, spackling and paint. Then we’ll have you sand and spackle with my supervision and then paint also. That will require several days and lots of hard work to fix what you’ve damaged. There will be other times in the future you’ll be available. Perhaps your sister will go skating another time. In the meantime we’ve got work to do.”

Help your children learn cause and effect thinking by experiencing the results of their choices.

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