Speak Eagle

Reverse Psychology for the Redhead

IMG_2401Communicating with our children at any age can be downright tricky. My redheaded 9-year old regularly throws me for a loop and leaves me dizzy.

Recently he scraped his leg pretty badly from falling off of a skateboard (I learned that he had been wearing roller blades at the time. Go figure.) That night, I cleaned up his leg, put an antibiotic ointment on it and covered it with a gauze bandage.

The next day was busy and we didn’t think to look at the injury- until that night again. Unfortunately, the gauze bandage had adhered itself to the wound, and was stuck tight.

I tried everything I could think of to release it. Olive oil, wound care spray, warm water, nothing worked. My son sat in the bathtub grimacing while he tried to peel it off. Then I tried. Neither worked. He was miserable and I had no interest in inflicting pain. And if I had ripped it quickly, as some of you might suggest, it would have opened up his wound again. Yet, the bandage had to come off.

I finally asked him, “What will it take for you to rip off that bandage? Should I make you go to bed early if you don’t or take away ‘screen time’ for tomorrow?”

He had a much more simple idea. “Just tell me not to.”

“What?” I did not just hear that.

“Yeah, just tell me not to and I’ll do it.”

Wow. He’s serious. Would I be supporting disobedience by playing along? I didn’t know. All I knew is it would work.

“Buddy, don’t you dare take off that bandage! Stop it! You’d better stop that right now! No! Don’t take it off! Don’t do it!”


With one teeth-gritting swipe, that bandage was off. He smiled. “See! I told you it would work!”

My mind flashed back to his toddler years. All of my begging and pleading for this descendant of Adam to eat his peas could have been completely averted by forbidding him to eat them!

And then I flashed forward to his teenage years. Lord, help me.

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