02 March 2009

Playing the slots

Consistency, consistency, consistency: a hallmark of good parenting. However will the kids learn to behave if whining lands them in fruitless quarantine one day and earns them those coveted fruit snacks the next? If the operant behavior sometimes results in a reinforcer, the operant behavior is more likely to recur. Duh. I get it already. Kids should know what to expect from their parents: consistent, firm-yet-gentle responses to even the nth repetition of an absurdly annoying behavior. After all, it’s hard to make sense of life if you put your coins in the same vending machine every time, but never know what you’ll get in return.
Ohhh...maybe today it'll be the Snickers!

So. . . there are days, and then there are days, y’know? Lotto days: Go ahead, kids, and push those buttons. Pull those levers for all they’re worth. Mostly, you’ll get what you always get: Sane Mom (or what passes for such), dispensing the Sane Replies; sometimes she even remembers to do so gently and graciously. But look out: sometimes, oh some times, just when you least expect it, you will hit The Jackpot. Before your shocked-and-awed eyes, the cherries line up—ching! ching! ching!—clicking out the magic sequence that unlocks the slots to let that Other Mom come roaring out. RUN—and don’t forget to duck and cover.

Learn this lesson early, kids, and save yourselves a heap of trouble:
Gambling with your mother just ain't worth the risk.

Consistency. So simple, in the abstract. Too bad these little critters are so darn concrete all the time.


Rebekah said...

:D The Other Mom in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned . . . .

Gauntlets said...

This post rocks! :D

Both the kids and I are consistently surprised by how easy it is to bring out the worst in me.

Pr. H. R. said...

Dad's aren't immune to this either. Why, just today I cooked our elder boy in the curried lentils.


Sarah D said...

I wish I read this yesterday. The Other Mom escaped for a bit...something about the eldest shutting the toilet lid on the youngest fingers right before bathtime flipped that switch.