Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Learning the Consequences of Decisions

This can be mistaken for "consequences for one's action", but it's not really action that I wish to stress on. Yes, people murder people, the consequence is jail for life or hanging. But let's not look too much on the action.

I was in KFC once, and right before I reached the counter, a little boy of about 5-6 years old came up to the counter, asked the kakak whether he can change the popcorn chicken small size to a medium size. The answer was a straight-forward "Tak boleh, dah punch dah" which means "cannot". The boy asked for a medium size to buy, but he didn't carry enough cash. So he went back to his seat (sitting alone) and ate his small size popcorn chicken. I guess the parents should be around to leave him minding his own matters.

Anyway, it was a pity. He had this forlorn look, more towards sadness due to helplessness to solve the issue, than being angry at the kakak. Adults would feel the latter I supposed. There was a very short moment that I thought, hmm... maybe I should buy that medium sized popcorn chicken for him, exchange with him his small one. Good gesture no?! Then, it hit me.

What is the correct age for a child to learn the consequences of his own decision making? It's like the story of the butterfly. When a kid tried to help the butterfly open its cocoon, it comes out and die, coz' the cocoon is the "test" for the butterfly. When the butterfly can muster its strength to open the cocoon, then it can fly. So this kid, as evil as it may sound, must understand and learn from his mistake. Simple for me to say huh? Since I'm not related to him.

What if I'm his parent? Would you let that sad look stay on your own son's face, not getting what he wanted just because he made a wrong decision? It's not about him wanting a toy and you say no. It's about allowing him to have what he wants, and in the end if he doesn't like it, he has to face it. In my honest opinion, I think it's best to teach a child consequences of decision making as early as possible. It teaches "Be Careful!".

Of course, as a parent, I do need to guide. If my child wants an ice-cream and he gawks at the colour of the sea-weed flavoured ice-cream being green, I'd have to tell him that it will taste bad. That's my help. If he still demands it, I'll buy it. But if after that he doesn't like it and wants to change, I'll have to really say no (will be fighting against my own compassion here I guess). If he doesn't want it, I'll finish it, but he will not get a replacement. Maybe next time. Sad, but I guess that's the only way to teach consequences.

So when should this 'lesson' start?! No idea... I'm a new parent, I guess it'll have to be by ear.

P/s: I think I 'cocoon' and 'forlorn' wrongly, but,.... heck with it. :D


queenbee said...

Good thought. It's always a dilemma for me, when to say no, and stick with it, especially when you see the sad faces or worse, temper tantrums. Our children need to learn though, because if we don't teach them early, the world is not always kind kan and out there, it's a jungle and survival of the fittest.

eLLe said...

I think it's a very natural reaction to want to shield young kids from disappointment. But then again, if they don't learn that the world is full of disappointments, life will be much harder for them when they're older.

Not knowing how to handle disappointments is the worst thing that can happen to you.