Um, what did you say?

Our bedtime routine had an unexpected hiccup last night when, for the first time, a consequence was met with a shrug from The Girl.

One of the techniques we use in our family is natural consequences, which has been working quite well with The Girl for the past 2 years. Part of the nighttime routine is that after a bath, we dry off, brush teeth and then go upstairs to read 3 books. The consequence for stalling in the bathroom is less time to read books. If The Girl is jerking around in the bathroom during her bath-pj-brush routine, the number of books gets reduced from 3 to 2 and then 2 to 1. Usually, this works pretty well and all it takes is a threat that we’ll be down to 2 books if she doesn’t hurry up to get her going again. Not last night.

We just came back from a long weekend trip, so everyone was tired and a bit punchy. She was jerking around in the tub, so after numerous warnings I finally pulled out the book consequence.

“I am going to count to 3 and if you are not out of the tub you are going to be down to 2 books.”

“That’s okay with me, Dad.”


“Okay, then, maybe if I count to 3 we’ll be down to 1 book.”

Obviously giving up one book was okay, but giving up 2 books was too much as she hopped out of the tub.

So, it looks like she is beginning to weigh out the consequences with the behaviour. If the consequence stakes are not sufficiently high enough, she is now choosing to accept the consequences and continue on with her behaviour.

Suddenly consequences have become much more complicated.

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