Sometimes reverse psychology works. It works best when employed unintentionally. Fed up with the children (who outnumber the adults around here) leaving their dishes out, I finally reached the outer limit of patience when I found a whole box of popsicles sitting out on the kitchen counter. This is a problem in Texas in August. In an unthinking moment, I declared that all three kids were officially grounded from getting themselves anything from the kitchen. Uh-oh. The smart mom in my head wished we could take it back, but the decree was loudly voiced and addressed not just one, but all three kids. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
This morning I left one child sitting at the table for five minutes waiting for me to get around to serving his breakfast which was a sane portion of food. (I am fairly certain breakfast cereal should not be eaten out of mixing bowls unless one is on a NFL payroll.) I offered the boy a second bowl of cereal if he would go for a walk with me. Nope. So he retreated to his bedroom. The girls' breakfasts were fairly uneventful.
Throughout the day, the kids had to wait on me when they wanted a drink or a snack. They had to remind me of their need for forks to eat pork chops. (Hee. That really was just an oversight.) One of them stuck her head under the kitchen faucet in a creative effort to circumvent the waiting, but I nixed that method immediately. (Ew.) By dinner time the whole brood was waiting patiently for me to make up their plates without so much as a complaint. I was highly amused by the excited responses when I informed the trio that they would be "allowed" the privilege of getting their own drinks for dinner.
I think I may be on to something here. All three kids feel like they have received a great privilege in being allowed to serve themselves. There is some serious potential here...