After having a few consecutive time-outs for talking back, I decided to remind Jack of his choices. Again.
me: Jack, you know each time I ask you to do something you have a choice.
Jack: I do?
me: Yes! You can choose to do what I say, with a “Yes, Mom” or you can choose to talk back or whine or argue. Do you know what happens with each choice?
Jack: (hangs his head a bit) Yeahhh…
me: If you listen to me, you usually get a reward or end up feeling good. If you argue, you usually get in trouble and end up feeling bad. It’s the two paths, like good or evil.
Jack: I would choose evil.
me: (sigh) Now why would you say that?
Jack: Because, with good, I always get a sticker on my reward chart or something. But with EVIL I never really know what I’m going to get.
me: But it’s always a bad outcome! Don’t you see that???
Jack: (pauses…) What’s your point?
Though he argued with me ABOUT arguing with me (double sigh), Jack did listen to me the rest of the night (okay 30 minutes) and even brushed, washed, changed and got into bed without even an extra peep. I guess I got something out of it after all!