On Impulse Control
I sent all my old videotapes to Home Depot Video (see On Creating Memories) and got back 20 discs. It’s amazing seeing the children so young, and it’s amazing what a terrible video photographer I was! When the thirteen year old came in to see himself performing a music video at the age of six, he was devastated. “Will anyone else be seeing this? Wait…it’s enough that my brothers are seeing this!” He demanded that I hand over the disc. I calmly explained how I understand seeing this today might be embarrassing for him, but these memories will serve their purpose not only for today but for the future, too. Maybe I should not have went on to explain how I would make sure to play this at his wedding video as this didn’t help the situation - but we all need to have some humor in parenting!
My son grabbed the box of tapes and ran to the guest room with them. I did not chase him. He came back and demanded the tape that was playing in exchange for the entire box. I told him that while I was ready to listen to the rules he wanted me to apply to the tapes, they were not his property to negotiate with. He scratched two of the discs and returned the rest and ran off extremely upset that he had no control over the situation.
I took a deep breath and realized I could continue several ways. I knew how easy it would be to replace the discs, and I thought about how hard it is to recover from these confrontations and to use them as lessons to learn from. I decided to take the highroad, and tell him that this was a major step he had taken on the road of maturity. I told him I knew that he could have ruined all the tapes but he controlled his impulses and returned the box undamaged. I told him that it took a lot of strength to reach inside himself and realize that what he was doing was wrong after having scratched two, which made him stop. He had put into action his own understanding of right and wrong, and I was proud of him.
Of course, he will replace the two discs that he scratched. He will go to the post office and mail them off and the money to pay for them will come off his point chart (see On Money). He also agreed to videotape a picnic we are having tonight to create a new memory, as that’s what I normally do - and he doesn’t even have to be in it !
Good luck teaching impulse control by controlling your own impulses!