Sunday, May 23, 2010

Offering a Do-over

When a mistake has been made, can we suggest a "do-over?" A "do-over" is about offering another chance to do the right thing. There are many times when another chance is a far better solution than a negative consequence.

Your child has collapsed into a puddle when asked to help with setting the table. You can join him down there and suggest we need dishes so we can eat dinner. "What can you do to help us get ready for dinner? Let's try again." Sometimes all children need is a chance to feel they are part of the process, and not just a servant. "I'll get the forks and cups."

Sometimes children will ask for a "do-over" when it's not appropriate. She just pummeled her little brother. It would be insincere to ignore this behavior or ask that she just say, "Sorry..." and go on as if nothing happened. First she needs to help him recover with some kindness and loving attention. If he is willing, maybe they can try again to interact in a more positive way. Or maybe he needs a break from her in order to feel safe.

We can also ask for a "do-over" when we have reacted to a situation with unnecessary anger. "I'm sorry. I was feeling overwhelmed and I over reacted. Can we try again?"

In the long run, we want children to learn to do the right thing. To offer help. To be a kind friend or sibling. To finish what they have started. A "do-over" can help them practice making the right choice.