Limited Allowance

May 1st, 2015 § 2 Comments

My kids are more than I could have ever hoped for. Seriously, by any measure, they’re great kids. Simultaneously, they can be complete disasters. Parents among you know that these are not mutually exclusive realities. An hour into any given day, I can correct them a half dozen times. “Hey, get out of bed. You’re going to be late.” “Don’t get on your phone while you’re eating.” “Really? You’re going sprinkle sugar on your Fruit Loops?” “Hey, don’t give me that look.” You get the idea.

When my kids were quite a bit younger, probably as I was correcting them for the umpteenth time, it dawned on me how difficult it is to receive correction.

I’m forty-five now. I’m hardly ever corrected. I go about most of my day without a single person pulling me aside and saying something like, “Hey, you might want to walk a bit faster. You know, have the look of someone who’s got somewhere to go.” Yes, true, I do walk slow. But regardless of how accurate the info, my initial impulse is to react defensively. I like to think that I’m mature enough to measure my response, but hard to say for sure.

The point is even for a relatively mature adult, who is infrequently corrected, receiving correction is tough. When I realized it, I decided to put myself on a correction allowance. Three. That was it. I could correct each child three times in one twenty-four hour period. This little exercise in self-restraint had a couple unintended benefits. For one, it helped me prioritize. I found myself asking, “Do I really want to burn one of my three on this?” The second thing it did was help me store things in my mind for an opportune time. The goal isn’t personal satisfaction; the goal is instruction. The heat of the moment is not always the best for delivering or receiving correction.


Teaching a child to respond well to correction is part of a parent’s job. It’s not easy. A limited allowance makes a tough job easier … especially for your kid.

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