Answering Parent Questions

Parent Question

My younger boy, age 5 is on the ticket system. When he loses his tickets he go upstairs to his room for the rest of the day except meals. Problem is he doesn’t stay in his room. He sits at the top of the stairs right outside his bedroom door and has a birds eye view of everything going on in the rest of the house. He’s quiet enough and I’m not sure how to enforce him being in his room when he’s told to do so as his consequence for losing tickets.  When he was younger we would lock him in the room but I wonder if that’s still the way to go about this or if another approach would be better. Thanks

My Answer

Great job using the Ticket System! Your question is a good one. In your son’s mind, he is obeying, he is just “obeying” his way. He is not alone; many children want to challenge authority so they can see where your boundary with them lies. They will see how far they can push you. Our job as parents is to establish early on a clear boundary that will not be pushed. You mentioned that previously you had locked him in his room, this is still an acceptable solution if he continues to push that boundary. However, it should not be your first resort because then you have nowhere further to go if he continues to disobey.

By applying what I like to call “The Jonah Principle”, your son will learn quickly that not challenging your authority works best for him. Simply put “The Jonah Principle” is defined like this… In your house he has rules that he is to obey. When he breaks those rules, he will have consequences that you make for him. He can accept his consequences humbly or he can fight you, but either way he will be punished.

Your son lost his tickets and the consequence you set before him is a day in his room. As the parent you have made it clear he is going to his room, so this is not up for debate or bargaining. Does he want to go with the door open or the door closed? Your son has a choice in this situation, he can humbly accept his punishment and go to his room, and stay in his room, and the door will remain open. The moment he disobeys you and leaves his room, he has made the choice to have the door locked because you cannot trust him to do what he is told. In this case, you are helping to adjust your son’s attitude toward your authority.

The Jonah Principle is meant to alleviate the power struggle between you and your child. He learns quickly that your authority is non-negotiable. Stay strong, many other parents, myself included, have been where you are. You are on the right track. Keep up the good work!

-Tanya Banowsky

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