Punishment and Praise

Yesterday when the alarm went off I automatically went to the kitchen to make breakfast. I’m used to doing it in a sleep-deprived haze so it wasn’t until I brought the tray into the bedroom that I realized it was Sunday. Lion’s day to make breakfast. Oops. I guess it really was backwards day.

As I was doing things around the house I was debating whether I should do the laundry. Ultimately I decided that laundry is one of Lion’s chores so I didn’t do it. When he gets a job we will re-evaluate it, but for now I’m more than happy to have him do it. I haven’t given him many chores so far. He’s been very good at finding things that need to be done so there has been little need to actually assign things. But that leaves me with less to punish him for. However, I’m going to start punishing him for things that are not done correctly.

Last week I came home to a mess in the bathroom. There was a white film all over the counter. Lion cleaned it with Comet and it left a residue. Comet always seems to do that. It requires a lot of rinsing to get rid of the gritty film. He did clean it up once I mentioned it, but it got me thinking. If a chore is not completed satisfactorily, whether or not it was a chore I assigned him, he should receive a punishment. If I ask him to take the garbage out and it drips all the way to the door and he doesn’t clean that trail up, he should be punished. If he takes the garbage out on his own and forgets to put a new bag in the can then he should be punished.

On the flipside, I hope Lion agrees that I have been praising him more often. I’ve been trying to notice things. It still seems weird to me to tell him he’s a good boy. When I tell the dog she’s a good girl now it makes me realize how ridiculous it sounds to me to say the same thing to Lion. I know he likes it. The dog couldn’t care less. So why is it weird? I guess it seems demeaning to me. I’m not even sure I told my kids they were good boys and girl. Not even when they were toddlers. I did tell them they did a good job at whatever task they were doing. But good boy is more something I would say to an animal. I know. It’s me. He likes it so who cares if it makes me uncomfortable. Point taken. I’ll keep doing it. So Lion will be punished for a job not well done, and praised for a job well done. No matter how ridiculous both of those ideas sound to me. I’m still fighting with (against) myself about domestic discipline. It will take time. Just go with it. You can do it. It’s dumb. Shut up. (Thank you, voices.)