I have some very serious, no-bending, no fudging, no manipulating, no “earning back” rules for my kids. And not to brag, but somehow with three children, some of them have worked really well. Let these guide you in your own parenting:
1. The kids are not allowed in our room.
2. Okay, the kids are allowed in our room, but they will not sleep in our bed.
3. The kids are allowed in our room, but they will not sleep in our bed unless they are really sick, really scared, or if they peed in their own bed and we are too tired to change their sheets in the middle of the night.
4. The kids will not steal our pillows.
5. The parent will ask the child for permission to have a small corner of the pillow.
6. The kids will not eat candy.
7. The kids will not eat candy on weekdays.
8. The kids will not eat candy on weekdays unless we are in Target, and we have no choice but to shove three lollipops in their fists to keep them quiet and in the cart so we can focus on buying only essential, premeditated items.
9. The kids will not eat candy unless we are in Target, or receive a birthday party goodie bag, or if I find a stash of Starburst in my purse and a meltdown ensues. Or if we are at the bank, the dry cleaner or the hair dresser and there is a friggin’ bowl of candy staring them in the eye.
10. The kids will only eat 5 to 10 pieces of candy per day.
11. The kids will not play video games.
12. The kids will not play video games during the week.
13. The kids will not play video games before school during the week.
14. The kids will not play video games before school unless they’ve brushed their teeth.
15. As long as they’ve brushed their teeth, the kids will tell the parents when they deem it an appropriate time to play video games—on any given day.
16. In sum, the kids will not come in our room, eat candy, or play video games ever, never ever, NEVER. Unless a situation arises wherein the whining makes us do crazy things that we said we’d never do. But only in those very specific circumstances will we succumb to the rules and values that we hold as parents for our children.
17. Oh, one more thing, we will never, ever take the kids to McDonald’s.
18. Okay, fine!!! We can go to McDonald’s but only just this once, dammit.
And I mean it.