Saturday, June 21, 2008

Natural Consequences Suck

While eating at the table, Ian tends to be a bit, um, wiggly, to put it mildly. Paul and I find ourselves constantly reminding him to sit still in the middle of his chair. We reposition him, and for about a minute he will be fine. All too soon, Ian scooches toward the edge of the chair, dangles and kicks his feet, stands up, sits down, and generally keeps in a constant motion.

Unfortunately, such behavior can't go long without undesirable consequences. During lunch, Ian again is wiggly and begins pushing and pulling his chair in and out from the table. Just as I reach to reposition him, the chair slips out from under his body. With a loud smack, Ian's face hits the edge of the table and he falls to the ground. Screams of pain immediately follow.

I scoop him up and quickly inspect his injuries. There's a scrape just under his nose and swelling already showing signs of bruising stretching from his right cheek to his upper lip. It's obviously very painful, and I do my best to console him. Tons of hugs, a band-aid, and a cold paper towel finally do the trick.

Falling is a natural consequence children learn from. It's a physics lesson and behavior modification at the same time. But part of me can't help but wonder if I couldn't have done more to prevent this accident. As I type this post, it dawns on me that I could have used a logical consequence to change his behavior. Whenever he gets squirmy, I should take his chair away and let him stand while eating. Of course, he may still be in constant motion. I guess a follow up consequence would then be time out.

I don't expect him to sit perfectly still while we eat. He is, after all, an energy exuding four year old. But he does need to be safe. There's no fine line as to when the wiggles become dangerous, but I should try to help him learn appropriate "manners" while sitting at the dinner table. Obviously, when he's sliding his chair in and out of the table, it's a safety issue, and a consequence would be apropos.

There's quite a learning curve while doing this parenting gig. I try to keep my children safe, help them learn about their world, teach them manners and how to contribute in our little circle of family and friends. But sometimes the lessons come naturally and painfully. Ian marches on after this afflictive experience, and hopefully a little wiser.

Here are a few pictures of my brave wee man. No, they're not with his boo-boos, I just can't bring myself to take pictures of his wounds. But here are some from his first day of preschool a few weeks ago:

Ian gives and receives a goodbye hug from Daddy.

"Let's go!"

Ian and I arrive a few minutes early to help him get used to his new surroundings. There's a center of seashells and buried treasure to explore.

The Kermit crabs pique his curiousity.


Anonymous said...

We have the same problem! I think the taking the chair away sounds good, but I am afraid my daughter would like that. Then she's just a step away from running away from the table! :)

carrie said...


I can't believe how big he has gotten! I love his little "hairdo" - the way it is combed all nice and everything! What a brave little guy . . . 1st day of preschool and all. :)

Lady M said...

Kermit crab, ha!

Q's favorite place to eat is actually standing at the "tower" at the counter, which has safety rails. It's a lot more appealing than the boring sitting at the table, but we insist on eating dinner together. It works, um, sometimes.

Damselfly said...

Ouch! Fly has done that too!

Guinevere Meadow said...

Poor little guy!!!

It IS a hard balance to find. When do you protect your children and when do you let them learn for themselves? It's like walking on a tightrope!