Aiming to be happier families.

How many “no’s” constitute a “NO”?

So here  am sitting in a steak house enjoying a Roquefort salad (yes, seriously) and there is a woman on the table behind me with her 4-year-old son (that’s what the label said on his inside-out jumper).

They have just ordered their food and are waiting for it to arrive. The little boy is climbing around and rolling on the floor and she is texting on her mobile. He spies one of those machines that have balls with little plastic toys and darts off to ‘check it out’ then rushes back and starts pulling at her sleeve.

“Mom, Mommy, Mom, MOM!”

“What?” she says, her eyes still on the screen.

He continues shaking her sleeve and points at the machine. She glances up, reaches into her handbag and gives him a coin saying, “Just one…”

He runs across the bench, dives to the floor and scoots off in the direction of the machine, returning moments later with his plastic ball, which he opens and discards.

“Mom, Mommy, Mom, MOM!” he says again, “I want one from the other machine.”

“No,” she says, “They are all the same, and I said just one.”

“But just one more.”

“No, I said one.”

And that was when the counting started. He kept asking and she kept saying, “no.”  – I counted 15 before she said, “If you don’t stop I will put you in the car.” He didn’t and she then said “Do you want me to put you in the car?” – I counted 18 variations of that question.

Eventually, my salad spoiled and my irritation at boiling point, I bit my tongue and asked for my bill before the temptation to turn round and shout, “Put him in the car already!” escaped my pursed lips.

I still am not sure who won, I guess it must have been the one who nagged the longest.

How could she have done it differently?

Having taken her child out for a meal, she shouldn’t have been texting, leaving him with nothing to do. If she had been talking to him he may not have noticed the machine in the first place.

But the damage already having been done, she then went on to argue with him.  Adults should not argue with children and should also not make a threat they aren’t able to follow through on.

She gave him a coin to enable her to text in peace. When he nagged for another coin, she could have said, “No James. I said you could have one. You cannot have another one.” She could have then called the waiter and ask how long the food would be (This would have closed the topic on James and caused a distraction). If the food was going to take a while she could have asked the waiter if they have crayons or even a pen and paper and let James draw, or she could take him to the bathroom to wash his hands and then played a game of ‘I spy’ or something else to keep him occupied.

Threats aren’t necessary, but if the child is being particularly difficult, she could have asked him if he thought he could behave while he waited  for his food or if  he would rather go home – choices – cause and consequence. (The meal could have been cancelled or take nas a take-away)




13 July 2011 - Posted by | Parenting | , , , , ,

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