Okay, okay, so I truly wish this never happened — but it did! So I’m choosing to look past my horror and embarrassment and focus on the important lessons that I’m glad we’ve learned from this experience. And I remind myself that this is all part of life and parenting — if things were perfect our kids wouldn’t learn or grow. Sh*t happens, lol.
Anyhow, last summer we were out-of-town when this took place and I didn’t even know about it until we were back home. That’s when my friend called to tell me a neighbor found dog poop in his yard that our boys had thrown over the fence!
I remember having all sorts of emotions and thoughts when I first heard. I horrified and upset that my son would do that, guilty and embarrassed because I must be a bad mom for not supervising more or teaching him how to act…
But, since we can’t change what happened in the past, lets move on to what we can learn:
How we react when our kids do something wrong will determine if they tell the truth the next time. Kids lie, blame others and give excuses so they don’t disappoint you, feel bad, or get punished.
When I was trying to get my son to fill me in on what happened he was hesitant and said he didn’t want me to get mad. Totally understandable, right?
I reminded him that I loved him no matter what, even if he didn’t make a good choice (Note: I was able to keep my cool because I took time to get my own feelings under control before we talked).
Focus on what they can do now, instead of what they did. Ask how they think they can fix it, take ownership, and make things right. Ultimately, you want kids to know how to take responsibility for their actions and thinking that through requires practice.
My son wasn’t sure how he could fix things so I got him started with a few suggestions and told him we’d make a final plan after he had some time to think. We talked about who was affected by his actions, how to be a good house guest and good neighbor, and also not to blame others for our choices.
Brainstorm ideas for how they can handle things next time or role play what they could’ve done differently. Our kids won’t be with us every single moment and they make their own choices so offering guidance on how to handle tricky situations ahead of time can help prepare them. Especially because when kids get together they can make choices that they wouldn’t necessarily make on their own.
We talked about what to do when a friend suggests doing something that doesn’t feel right to us and conversely, that to be a good friend we need to make choices that won’t get our friends into trouble either.
It’s really this last part that got me thinking about how happy I was to be able to have these conversations with my son when he was six and we were dealing with poop — rather than starting when he’s a teenager and may be dealing with peer pressure pressure in situations involving drugs, alcohol, or sex. That’s not to say we won’t have issues with those things, but we’ll have the foundation set to accept responsibility, make things right and make better choices in the future.