Yesterday morning I won a battle with my two-year-old boy. (I make it sound like sometimes he wins and sometimes I win, but actually I always win :-). Shhhhhh. It's one of the secrets to good parenting...ALWAYS WIN!)
Josh has a job to do every night. He moves the stools away from the island so that David (7yob) can wipe and sweep the countertop without distraction. Generally he is a wonderful example of diligence with his work. However, I was having him move the chairs in the morning; a routine he was not accustomed to. So, I guess it was natural that he chose this opportunity to assert himself.
He continued to throw himself on the floor and cry, saying "I don't want to!" I continued to give negative reinforcement with a small switch and encourage him to obey with calm, firm resolve (I always switch my hand first to make sure I am only using enough force to give a SMALL sting). After quite a few cycles of this the heels of my boy were not dislodging and I knew I didn't want to stay there all morning. However, I told Joshua that I was content to do so.
And then, though I don't normally do this and I assumed it would be fruitless, I began to lecture him. "Now Joshua, do you realize that Mommy does NOT want to do this? It would be so much easier for me to just move the chairs myself and get on with the sweeping. The reason I am doing this is for YOU. Because learning to obey Mommy is the best thing for YOU. Not because I want to." I am not a perfect parent, and even as I spoke, I was kicking myself and saying in my mind.... "being cheerful and consistent is the only solution....you are wasting your words on this two-year-old".
So, imagine my surprise when, without further protesting, Joshua rose up and began to do his job. I watched him in amazement, wondering if he really had a breakthrough in his understanding. I guess it's not so surprising (he's a bright little fellow). And certainly my own walk with God always becomes effortless when I have a fresh, deep understanding of His great love for me. Certainly a child is not motivated by one who is perceived to be mean or when the child doesn't understand that their benefit is your primary motivation. Maybe my little guy is growing up, huh? ;-)