One day many years ago, the comedian Andrew Schulz forgot to do his homework. They were on their way to school when he came clean and admitted it to his father. There could have been a fight. There could have been criticism. There could have been a lecture. Instead, his father simply asked, “Well, do you want to stop here on the stoop and do it?” Schulz replied, “yes, I would like to do that.”
His father had only one thing to say afterward: “I’m really proud that you did that.” Again, this could have easily become a moment full of criticism. He could have leveled the threat of punishment were this to ever happen again. As it happened, it never did. And they wouldn’t need to have anymore conversations about it. From then on, Schulz said, “I never didn’t do my homework again.”
We’ve said before: kids do well when they can. When you give them the opportunity, kids generally do the right thing. You don’t have to scream. You don’t have to force them to do their homework. You just have to give them the opportunity to show you they know what’s right…sometimes they just need one more chance to get there.
Think of what it meant to Schulz to hear from his father that he was proud of him, instead of that he was mad at him or disappointed in him. Think of what they were able to accomplish there, together, on that stoop–because they were both understanding and patient with each other. “I think he’s literally the greatest dad that’s ever existed,” Schulz would say of his father. “And I mean that sincerely.”
You can have that with your kids, too.