All kids get into stuff. Tots and teens? It doesn’t matter. They all mess up. How you handle these mess ups is what really matters. Turn a mess up into a teachable moment by using the Sandwich Effect.
Because all kiss mess up, as parents, we can’t catch them being good enough. Every time your child does something right, obeys, shares, listens, organizes, sets up his own accountability system, and makes good lifestyle decisions, praise and reinforce his good choices. Teach them to use the What Would Jesus Do standard.
However, stuff happens, and that needs your attention as well. When stuff becomes a learning experience for your daughter, she will become more accountable and grow wiser. So, praise and consequence. Conflicting concepts? Not in the least. Behold the Sandwich Effect.
Fourteen year old Paul has a big social studies test tomorrow. It’s quiet upstairs and you anticipate Paul getting into his studies. You go to his bedroom door just to check on him and you see him with Ipod and ear buds, playing his air guitar and dancing around the room. Part of you wants to yell at him to get back to work, as you yank his Ipod from his hand. You take a deep breath and the wiser parent in you prevails.
“Aww, man!” you start as you walk into his room. Paul gives you that oh crap, deer-in-the-headlights look. You continue, “Son, you were getting some serious studying in tonight. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to keep the Ipod cranked up and dance around your room if you plan to ace that test tomorrow. Turn off the music for just another twenty minutes, and I will come in to quiz you on what you’ve studied. Gosh, some day you’re gonna make me a rich man with your music, ya know.”
Do you see what you just did? You started with a positive, serious studying, and followed with a negative, music distraction. You concluded with another, longer term, hopeful positive, benefits of his music. You sandwiched your negative between two positives. Start with a comment or affirmation, followed by constructive criticism, and conclude with more affirmation and encouragement. This is the formula for using the Sandwich Effect to create a teachable moment.