Empty Threats don’t belong in Fun Playgrounds!

Sam and I went to the playground today, the first day of spring.  It was a lovely breezy day.  He was laughing as I pushed him in a baby swing.  We had the playground completely to ourselves (where are all the other parents and kids when it’s so nice outside?)  Then another mom showed up with her kids. Playgrounds are often divided into sections for little kids and bigger kids. I saw her younger boy go running toward the set of play equipment where Sam and I were playing. The mom yelled at him to follow them to the other end. Little boy didn’t want to play on the other half. Other mom yelled at him, “We’re going to go home if you don’t obey!”

I realize I’m new at the whole mothering job, but I didn’t believe for one second that this woman had packed up her two kids plus a baby in a stroller, driven to the park, just to turn around and go back home. I’ll file this in the Empty Threats file. I could also name this the Useless Threats file. And the terrible misbehavior that prompted the Empty Threat? The little boy wanted to play in a different part of the playground than his brother. Oh no! That definitely deserved a Useless Threat! (I can imagine the wollop that Older Brother would have given Younger Brother if the mom had indeed followed through on her threat to take them all home right then.)

And I hear parents threatening their kids with punishment all the time. One might hope that on a springy and fun morning at a playground, there could be an escape from the constant threats of punishment. It just seems so dreary to live that way, for the kid and for the parent. I’m definitely treading into some crunchymunchy Alfie Kohn parenting philosophy here. I really must get back to reading Kohn’s book, if I could just get a spare few minutes, whenever that may be. Speaking of spare time, I can hear Sam clearly now, not napping. Actually, I would’ve been surprised if he was asleep since he napped once today already, and he usually only takes one nap a day. He just seemed so sleepy as I nursed him that I thought I’d give him a chance to nap if he wanted. God knows I would happily take a nap this afternoon!