Last night I tried something different with Bridget. She's been having a rough time lately. It seems it goes back and forth between her and Piper as they take turns adjusting their attitudes.
So, after Bridget hit her sister, I called her to me. I took her hands in mine and I told her how her behavior hurt Piper, hurt me, hurt God, and hurt herself. I told her how disappointed I was in her behavior because it was wrong. Then I told her that even though I was sorry she'd behaved this way (and this was at the end of a long day trying to help Bridget adjust her attitude and behavior), that I loved her and forgave her and wanted to give her another chance to go and do the right thing. This is something God does for us all the time. He offers us grace and mercy and allows us another chance to do the right thing.
Bridget immediately took me up on my offer, and then I saw what I'd hoped to see. I saw Bridget's conscience go to work. She got to the bottom of the stairs to go up and burst into tears. She was truly sorry. Not because she was in trouble. She wasn't. She was sorry because she knew she was wrong. I told her to take all the time she needed, and then I left her alone to get it out of her system. It took her about 20 minutes before she could go back upstairs, but I didn't have to talk to her again.
This isn't a lasting fix. I think the conscience is like a muscle that has to be exercised. And Bridget has only just begun to flex hers. And this isn't something I'd do every day or for every misdeed. I think it's important that my kids see consequences, both positive and negative, for their behavior. Still, every now and then, I think it's a good idea to give them a chance to try, a chance to see their own consciences become convicted when they know they've done something wrong.