This is What I Learned, I Went a Week without Correcting My Son’s Behavior.

When it comes to parenting, I am sometimes afraid of having an addiction to correction. It’s not that she’s a screaming or usually guilty mother. Return. I do not insult, criticize, or humiliate my 5-year-old son. (How can I? It’s so adorable and cool!) It’s more than just pushing. And when the impulse doesn’t work, because you don’t hear it anymore, that’s the problem with pushing; You become immune to them: I flip my lid and I feel like a monster. It goes like this:

“Hey bubby, have you put your socks on?” (She hasn’t, I see her bare feet.)

Two minutes later: “Hey, can you put on your socks?”

Two minutes after that: “Bud: Socks, please. Thank you.”

Then, when he mysteriously stopped after putting on one of those socks to start drawing dirt riding a skateboard: “SOCKS! BY GOD, PUT ON YOUR SOCKS!”

And finally, that night, as I put him to sleep: “Hey, buddy? Sorry I was frustrated this morning. I work to be more patient.”

I suspect that’s how it happens to a lot of parents. But not all. My sister, who is five years younger than me and fifty times calmer, never seems to lose her composure with her three-year-old daughter. It’s amazing to see her as a mother, like watching a teacher at work. He is Van Gogh who raises even keel. And you don’t have to tell your child that you regret that you have exploded… Again.

For me, that’s the crux of the problem: I don’t want to be the kind of person who says they’re going to do something and then they’re not. I don’t want to teach my son that it’s okay to just pay lip service to make changes. It’s not that I’m worried that I marked it for a lifetime by asking her to put on her socks in less than thirty minutes, it’s a skill worth having after all. It was because I was worried that I peppered his childhood with constant directions to control his behavior despite not being able to do it myself.

So, it felt like a coincidence when I came across a random Instagram post from a parenting account, which challenged parents to refrain from correcting their children’s behavior for a week (except in times when they put their or someone else’s safety at risk, obviously). How does it feel, the publication asks? What might change about the dynamics you and your child share? How can the way you become a parent change in the future?

I liked the idea. After all, our family is currently in a very lucky position, which allowed me to achieve this: I work from home and my son is not yet in kindergarten, so the morning crisis is not so urgent. If it takes years to get out the door, it just means you’ll miss the morning snack in preschool and I’ll have less time to waste time on my phone before I get to work. Also, my son has no serious behavioral problems. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s far from perfect. But he’s not the kind of kid who hits or bites or throws attacks or sprays urine all over the bathroom for fun. The worst thing I had to bite my tongue was whimpering about the fifth Oreo or throwing my fancy conditioner into his bath water to see the strange soap snake forming. (She called it “baby soap.” No, I don’t know why.)

Given this, how insignificant my sweet son’s “bad” behavior is, I mean, it makes me on my stomach. Why does he drive it all the time with such stupid nonsense? What’s the difference between all this? Answer: It’s not like that. So, I’m sure. I will be quiet for a while and let the child go.

Here’s what I found: it worked. Help. That’s good. And everyone is happier.

I didn’t say anything when he threw an entire jar of $5 Crayola shower dye into the tub, turning the water into an effervescently muddy brown black. I was a picture of silence when he stated that his polished green stones and dinosaur stickers must have belonged right in the middle of the ancient Christmas village he had put on our coats. Of course, it makes a lot of sense for him to leave all those Play-Dohs to dry into crusty pieces that we have to throw away, without having to intervene there. And who has two thumbs and gets into his case about eating a granola bar that throws crumbs on my bed? Not this guy!

Did I scream, sigh, or explode when he spilled a glass of water on my hardwood floor, and then went about his business without trying to clean it up? I didn’t. However, there is one caveat: I see the benefit in using this event as a teachable moment. I picked up a tea towel and said, “Hey, just so you know, water can be bad for hardwood floors. Therefore, if we spill out, we need to make sure to clean it up quickly.” Didn’t you just leave this water there as if it were someone else’s job to clean it up?   Don’t   you think that if you don’t tell me that this happened, I won’t notice it?  Instead, I  explained why it wasn’t ideal to handle it the way I did, she listened, “Okay, Mom, I’ll do it next time,” and that’s it. There is no need to apologize before going to bed.

And for me, this is the best-case scenario. It is not as if the non-correction challenge can or should be extended indefinitely. Obviously, it would be crazy if you never told your child how to do or didn’t do something again. Crazy and negligent, in fact, considering it is your duty to guide your children. But there may be ways to do it without your child feeling like they are constantly being pushed, watched, and judged. Perhaps fixing problematic behavior may feel less like punishment and more like friendly advice.

To say that, it sounds very clear. But in everyday life, when one sock is lit and the second is no closer to your child’s feet than it was ten minutes ago, it is very easy to forget.

Speaking of which, tackling the day-to-day sock fight feels like facing the final boss of this parenting challenge. If I can leave my son behind while he burns the daylight wearing his day clothes, I’m sure he’ll rise to a new field of parental existence. I would reach the top of the mountain, where my sister lived, where unshakable moms and dads happily drank coffee while their children performed tasks in slow motion.

My plan is simple: I will ask him once to do it, and then retreat. One morning, after he had finished putting on his shirt and pants, I showed him where the socks were and explained that I was going to dry my hair in the next room. He hopes to return to a kid who is still watching Number Blocks on TV, unknowingly without socks. I hope to find him engrossed in an art project that suddenly matters, barefoot like the day of his birth. If so, fine. I will explain to him that we will go in a few and let him draw his own conclusions: if we go to school soon, I’d better finish dressing. He’s a smart guy. So why not trust him as that smart boy?

I dried my hair, went back to the room and found a glowing child, wearing socks and shoes. “I’m ready,” he said. I hurriedly corrected him: “You are ready and you are amazing.”