Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cruising For A Bruising

Whoever said "payback is a bitch", never had to discipline a child.  Sure there are bad things such as when your kids are sick, when they're sad or when they get hurt.  But disciplining eats those other things for breakfast.  When your kids are sick, you feel for them and want nothing more than to be able to take their sickness from them and give it to yourself so that they don't have to deal with it.  When they're sad, all you want to do is comfort them and somehow make them laugh.  When they get hurt, you are willing to put your lips to a bloody knee and make it feel better.  Ice cream is always a great equalizer and never use hand sanitizer to clean a wound.  Unfortunately you can't provide rewards, comfort or try to make your kids smile when they've done something bad and that in a nutshell is what makes it a miserable undertaking.

There are three main problems when it comes to discipline:  determining what actions to discipline, being consistent in your approach and finding a punishment that dissuades the bad behavior permanently.  

If you don't have kids, let me save you the suspense, they do a lot of bad shit.  The good news is that it takes about two and half years for that stuff to start.  I know what you're thinking, the terrible twos.  Well...yes and no.  The Big Guy hasn't been that bad during his life's sophomore year, certainly nothing I would label as "terrible".  Around December of last year he started showing signs of turning the forbidden corner.  It wasn't crazy, outlandish attacks that would make Henry Evans blush, it really just started out as an incessant whine (which I wrote about here) mixed with stubborn "no's".  However it grew into something a bit more than that relatively quickly.  Within just a few months, the Big Guy started laying on top of the Little Man.  We're not just talking his head...this was his whole body.  And just to put it in more visual perspective, the Big Guy weighs 33 lbs, while the Little Man at the time was probably about 18 lbs (now a hefty 21 lbs.).  From there, we experienced our first push, nothing intentionally violent but clearly testing the waters.  And then finally, the coup de grace, the first punch.  This brings me to our first point, determining what actions to discipline.  

Your kids will do things that need correction.  You need to decide what those things are, as it is different for each parent.  What type of parent are you?  I think more often than not, the kids determine the parenting style.  It's all fine and good to sit down with your spouse and talk this stuff out before your kids get here (as our useless prenatal class instructed us to do...talk about a waste of time), but until it's real, until you are smack dab in the middle of it...you're talking out of your ass.  Once you have figured out what actions need to have repercussions then you can decide how consistent you are going to be.

This portion of the problem is simple.  If you are not consistent, your kids will rule your world, the world around you will hate you and the eyes people are giving you...yep, they are definitely judging you.  Setting an imaginary, movable boundary with your children is like staging a Biggest Loser competition in a Krispy Kreme factory.  Your kids thrive on boundaries, real ones where they know what happens if they cross the line.  Move the line once and you have created confusion.  The Mrs and I get into these debates (to put it nicely) all of the time.  She doesn't like playing the bad guy or inconveniencing herself or the kids to keep discipline consistent.  Guess what?  Neither do I.  But I know that if we are at the grocery store and the Big Guy blows into a full tantrum or hits me, that taking him home that instant is the best thing I can do for all involved.  Yes, the shopping cart if left full and yes, I have to come back and do the grocery shopping all over again.  Which brings us to the final countdown, the punishment.

We have gone through a myriad of punishments with the Big Guy and what I have learned with him is that extended time outs and simply time are the answer to curbing bad behavior.  We tried taking away toys, videos, treats, special day trips we had planned (Sea World, museums, zoo etc) and nothing worked.  As soon as time outs were involved, I started to see an understanding from him.  After I have put him in time out and given him time to think (it has been as short as 2 minutes and as long as an hour) he is then asked to explain what he did wrong and then right that wrong (which usually means he has to apologize...usually to his little brother).  If he chooses to not right the wrong then the time out continues.  I am also not a nice guy during this time.  Time out means just that, so no toys, no talking...just good ol'fashioned sitting and thinking.  Once he rights the wrong, however, we can hug it out.

Now, I am a fairly strict parent by my own view.  I see a lot of other parents let their kids get away with things that I typically frown upon.  These are the dreaded kids-will-be-kids type of parents...to each their own, I guess.  But if your kid pushes, throws something at or punches my kid for no reason, don't expect me to have that same tree hugger approach to him or to you...yes, I will parent your child if you make me.  Too many parents today want to be their kids friends first.  They want to do away with the word "no".  They want there children to be confident.  They want to level the playing field.  Newsflash:  you were a parent before you became friends, "no" is one of the best words your children can learn, confident kids are bratty kids and the playing field won't be level until your kids have kids.  Being the bad guy isn't so bad.  So settle in for the ride and in about 20 years the two of you can have a few laughs about all of this over a few beers.       

1 comment:

  1. Tried to email but it keeps getting kicked back. Please email me so I can explain why your comments were deleted.