I’ve always been irked by these signs:
I am all about keeping the environment clean. That’s not the problem. I just HATE the way that it specifies the “maximum” fine.
If it were up to me, the signs would say: “No littering. Minimum fine: $5” Then people can just imagine how high the fines could really go. Because let’s face it, if you care little enough about those around around you to throw your TRASH on the ground, then really a “maximum” fine sign is really just affirmation that what you are about to do will amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist. “Don’t worry, you’ll only have to pay $200 at the most…it’s no big deal!”
Well, we were driving along this afternoon and, as per the norm with my mommy mind, I immediately began really scrutinizing the mentality behind these signs. And I realized something.
I do the same thing.
Most parents, or any people in leadership, are guilty of doing the same.
How many times, when a child does something “wrong,” have you found yourself saying, “If you don’t stop doing that, you’re going to be grounded” (or whatever punishment suits the offense.)
That’s the same as the “max fine” signs.
You’ve (I’ve) essentially just said to your (my) child: “If you don’t stop that behavior, the worst thing that can happen is that I will punish you right now.”
Why are we so short-sighted?
I am not advocating the idea that we should play mind-games with our children, threatening them with terrible end results.
BUT, shouldn’t we be more concerned with the long-term results than we are with the immediate punishment?
If all you do is ground or spank, or otherwise discipline your child, without teaching them what was truly the heart issue at hand, then they have just paid the $200 fine, and otherwise gotten off scot free.
If people are to stop littering, then they need to understand that their littering is damaging to the earth, is an eyesore to those around them, and that it creates unneccessary work for those trying to maintain the grounds- basically, it’s not all about meeting their immediate need to be rid of their trash.
If children are to be obedient, then they need to feel more than fear for the immediate punishment to come. They need to understand what was intrinsically wrong with their behavior- was it disrespectful, selfish, just a general wrong heart attitude?
Don’t be “maximum fine” parents (speaking to myself here!) Get to the root of the problem. Start off small, and allow your child to see the big picture- the true results of their wrong behavior.