I find myself using the “If this, then this” method of parenting….a lot lately.
Everything has a consequence. “If you don’t pick up your clothes, you won’t get any new ones for school.”
Sometimes I find myself using the “if this, then this” approach all day long never really engaging in any other type of conversation.
“Mommy! Look! I did a back dive!”
“If you do too many, you might hit your head on a rock.”
“Mommy! I can cross my eyes.”
“If you do that for too long, then they’ll stick that way.” (Classic)
Other times, I use it to instill fear.
“If you scream at your sister one more time, then I’ll have no choice but to tear out your gizzard.” The gizzard threat was a long standing one in our house growing up and we eventually figured out we didn’t have a gizzard (at least none we were aware of) but nobody wanted to risk having it removed. Also, my brother did have an inexplicable scar in what experts might suggest was the perfect cover for a human gizzard, so we weren’t taking chances.
If you refer to any menu item on your dinner plate as tasting worse than moldy walnuts, then I will have no choice but to feed you actual, moldy walnuts.
If you remove your seatbelt while Mommy is driving then the police will put us all in jail.
If you sprawl on the floor, slobbering and scratching the hardwood then we will never buy you a dog. (We are never going to buy them a dog)
If you don’t go to bed, then you will not be having a sleepover. (There are no sleepovers pending)
If you don’t wear sunscreen, then there will be no more summer.
If you laugh when your two (and a half!) year old sister says things like, “Get your butt out here!” then you will never experience Disney Land again (sometimes the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, what can I say, I’m tired.)
Then around mid to late November, all acts of ill will towards siblings, parents, neighbours or turtles receive the same line.
If you continue down this path, Santa will not bring you any presents.
When it gets really bad, I pick up the phone.
“I have Mrs. Claus on the line,” (would you believe even Mrs. Claus subscribes to this technique?) “She says, if you insist on acting out, Santa will put you on the naughty list. What’s that Mrs. Claus? She already has two letters of her name crossed off the nice list? What? You say if she keeps this up Santa will give her an unprecedented two year ban despite her offences all happening in the current fis-claus year?”
It also works in reverse.
If you throw up on me, then I’ll clean it up.