I was reflecting back on a time when my daughter was about four years of age and she was mucking around in the back of the car. I had told her many times that she must keep her seat belt on and that if she didn’t I would stop the car and she would have to walk home by herself.
That will teach her a lesson, I thought.
Ignoring my pleas, she kept sliding the seat belt over her head. So in a quiet side street, I pulled the car over to the side of the road to get her out of the car to prove that I meant business! At this point I expected her to be remorseful for not doing as she was told and beg for me to let her stay in the car. Instead she jumped out of the car and began walking along the side of the road by herself.
I now found myself in the situation where I was terrified of her being hit by a car. The whole reason I had tried to teach her a lesson was that I wanted her to be safe whilst I was driving and now I had put her out on the side of the road where she had a far higher chance of being injured – talk about jumping out of the fry pan into the fire! I had to change from yelling at her that she would have to get out of the car, to yelling at her to get in the car. With a smug smile she said she wanted to walk home by herself. As a car entered the street she was less sure of herself and finally agreed to get back in the car.
I guess the one who was taught a lesson that day was in fact me. I learnt that there is no use in making empty threats that you won’t follow through with! Even a four year old could see through my lack of commitment to the threatened consequences and didn’t she love seeing me do a backflip!
(Photo courtesy of imagerymagestic, freedigitalphotos.net)