How to Clean Up A Dirty Mouth - Dr. Charles Fay
Josh had come home from school excited about his new playground term. I won’t say what it was. We’ll just call it “It would make a sailor blush.” He launched the words on the family during the evening meal. Shocked, Michelle became emotional and punished him by making threats and issuing warnings. He responded by calling her that name and was sent to his room for the rest of the evening.
During the next few weeks, Michelle exhausted all of the traditional discipline techniques to no avail. The problem just kept getting worse. In desperation, she attended a Love and Logic parenting course with her neighbor.
The course facilitator suggested that she use a Love and Logic generic consequence called the “Energy Drain.” Michelle could hardly sleep that night knowing she had found an answer to her problem.
She had her opportunity the very next day. As she drove Josh home from school, he got mad about something and “It would make a sailor blush” came spewing out of his mouth. Michelle seized the opportunity. She pulled the car to the curb, held her head in her hands, and began moaning, “Oh… oh…”
A shocked Josh was quick to say, “Mom, what’s wrong? What’s happening?”
“Oh, I’m going to be okay. It just drains my energy to hear you talk that way.”
Pulling back onto the road, Mom was remembering what the Love and Logic facilitator had said the night before: “Consequences are more meaningful when kids think they got by with something and suddenly discover that they haven’t.”
At home, Mom talked to her unsuspecting youngster: “You drained a lot of my energy with that bad language in the car. Now you need to think of a good way to put that energy back. How do you want to do it?”
“Well, when I have to worry about your language I lose my energy and you need to put it back for me. Would you like to hear how some boys put energy back into their moms?”
A very confused Josh responded with, “I don’t know. I guess.”
“Let’s see,” said Mom. “Some kids get the dusting cloth and they dust the house while Mom reads her book. That puts energy back.”
“I don’t like to dust.”
“That’s okay. Some kids would rather get the money they’ve been saving and pay for a babysitter so Mom and Dad can go out to dinner. That will help replace my energy.”
“I don’t want to spend my money for babysitters.”
Josh finally decided dusting was the best choice. He went around the house dusting while Mom read her book. She frequently said, “I think this really helps. Thank you. My energy is slowly coming back.”
Michelle was getting fewer and fewer opportunities to get the dusting done. Within two weeks, the problem had all but disappeared.
A few days later Michelle called back to announce, “My Energy Drain technique backfired on me.”
A motorist cut her off in traffic. Before she could catch herself, she blurted a not-so-great-word.
Her first thought was that maybe her son had not heard her. But to her dismay, she saw the image of her son in the rear-view mirror. He was holding his head and muttering, “Oh… oh…”
Michelle knew she had to deal with this, so she stopped the car, saying, “Oh, I bet it drains your energy to hear your mother say those words.”
As only a 6-year-old can do, Josh played this for all it was worth. “Oh… it really drains my energy. I don’t know how I’m going to get it back.”
“Would ice cream help you get some energy back? Josh thought this might be an acceptable solution. Within minutes, the two of them were eating their ice cream.
“Is this helping?” she asked Josh. “Are you getting your energy back?”
With a crooked little smile, Josh thought for a minute, looked up at Mom, and said, “It’s a start.”
Mom told us that she gave him a hug and thought, “I have a new skill that’s actually brought us closer together. What a gift it is to have discovered Love and Logic.”
Find more solutions in the audio Avoiding Power Struggles with Kids.