This is a previous post that has been playing in my mind lately…thought it would be a good time to come back to it…
Posts Tagged ‘discipline’
Tags: boundaries, discipline, security
This is a previous post that has been playing in my mind lately…thought it would be a good time to come back to it…
Tags: attitude, children, choices, confidence, discipline, family, growing, ladybug girl, learning, little things, snugglepuppy, stress, truth
How do I condense into a short blog the journey we have been on with our eldest and the long road of discipline? I’ll give it my best shot here…
As you can see from the last blog, temper tantrums have been my life. It got to the point of 2-3 hour meltdowns and tantrums at bedtime, us walking on eggshells, not sure when the next tantrum would erupt, and our poor child was just not fun to be around. Enter me lamenting on Facebook, which led to a comment from my brother, father of seven, which led to many conversations with my brother and sister-in-law on my wonderful, trying, brilliant, and very strong-willed little girl.
They recommended a book, Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl. Now…word of precaution. This book is incredibly fundamental. It’s very traditional. You really, reallyneed to take it with a big grain of salt. A large, large grain. Um, so large that I’m nervous recommending it. But…this book changed our lives.
My synopsis of what I learned…raising children isn’t about just disciplining bad behavior–it’s about training and correcting them so they thrive–so I am not merely reactive to my child’s behavior but proactive in promoting the positive behavior that is important in raising future adults that are thoughtful, respectful and a joy to be around.
Spanking gets a bad rap. I completely understand why. Seeing the parents who react in anger, who swipe up their kid and hit him on the bottom at every wayward behavior, kids that learn that you hit to get your point across…I definitely had reservations on ever spanking, even though I was spanked as a kid. But then again…I did get spanked as a kid. And nope, haven’t been through therapy because of it. I don’t actually remember anything negative from it, other than me not wanting to get in trouble.
My top tips for effective spanking vs. abuse…they have to know it’s coming. It sounds awful, but we talk about the spanking and why she’s getting it before it happens–she knows it’s coming and she has to accept her punishment–no kicking and screaming while I hold her down. Reason for this? If she can’t accept a consequence for her behavior at three, how can I expect her to accept it when she’s sixteen and I have less control over it?
Next, we use a spoon…dubbed “the long arm of the law”. Why? Because it isn’t our hand that does the harm, first off. It’s also something that causes a sting on the surface without lasting damage. You don’t hear of trips to the hospital because of a wooden spoon spanking. Using your hand to spank a bottom can damage a kids’ spine if done too hard, and also, in my opinion, is way too convenient…which means it’s more likely that you will spank in anger.
Which leads me to my biggest point. A spanking is not to be done in anger. Never, ever hit when you as the parent are mad. If you retaliate to their bad behavior by displaying your own, then what you’ve passed on to your child is not the importance of good behavior, but that anything goes–it’s just a matter of who’s bigger (and who wins).
And always end with a positive-because spanking is just a minor part of discipline. We use time outs, breaks in the “reflection chair”, spanking, distractions, incentives and talking things over. We don’t immediately rush to the spoon if a break from the situation will do. There are certain times when we have to consider that she is three–she doesn’t have a perfect grasp on why she feels the way she does (heck, I have a hard time grasping why I feel certain ways sometimes!) There are times when lack of sleep, allergies, or high emotions take over and a hug is the best preventative discipline for her.
What it ultimately boils down to is that our goal as parents is to empower Ladybug Girl to be the best person she can be–and that means teaching her to understand her limits and how to cope in this world in a positive way. As a child getting a grasp on her emotions, we as parents stand as her sounding board and hope to impart what we know and help her to create her own path with a firm foundation.
It’s not about spanking. It’s not about discipline. It’s all about training…or the more socially acceptable term–”raising” a child. I want to be her safe haven–I want to be her listening ear and gentle guide. I want to be there for her–literally and figuratively. Most importantly, I want her to know she’s loved. No matter what, I love her, and I love her enough to push her–to be the best Ladybug Girl she can be–one that has a good grasp of the world and how to be a positive light in it.
I don’t have it all figured out, and I can guarantee that both girls will throw me for a loop countless more times in the next twenty years (and beyond). But I think all we can do as parents is the best we know at the time. And right now I feel at peace with where we are at with discipline. Since Nathan and I “laid down the law,” we have gotten a child that constantly comes and gives us hugs and tells us she loves us, who dances and sings 80% of time, and who is a genuinely happy kid. The more clear boundaries we’ve laid the more secure she’s become, and I’m amazed at the little girl who’s emerging–she’s not a toddler anymore. She has a better grasp on things than I give her credit for, and she keeps us laughing most of the time with her funny precociousness.
I feel the weight of parenting–the importance of what we do right now setting patterns for life, and we’re very, very careful about making sure we’re doing what is in Ladybug Girl’s (and now Snugglepuppy’s) best interest. We all fail, and Nathan and I have our moments of frustrations, but the girls are rich in an abundance of loving support. We have accountability all around us–we have so much family invested in these children that I’m confident that even if we don’t have it all figured out, we’ll be the best parents we know how to be, and we’ll have plenty of support to keep us in check if it were ever a negative effect on our children.
I’m so thankful for everyone in our lives that invests in our girls-grandparents, uncles and aunts, godparents, teachers and coaches…I’m immensely grateful for every positive influence in my girls’ lives, and I know that regardless of us having this whole parenting thing figured out, my girls will always feel our love.
Tags: children, discipline, family, home, ladybug girl, parenting, respect, snugglepuppy, spouse, tantrums, toddlers
Today was a day when I wanted to throw in my mommy towel and beg to go…oh wait, I am home. And really, this whole week I’ve wished I were somewhere else. It’s a “calgon, take me away” week where it seems all I’ve done is deal with one bomb after another. My days are spent creeping around the landmines that are my toddler’s fragile emotions, hoping she doesn’t erupt into one more tantrum, and softly easing my baby down begging she won’t startle awake, screaming because she’s not being held or fed. Again.
It’s funny how, before hubby and kids, some women crave being needed…and then you have children, and everyone is pulling at you all the time–being needed going into overdrive. Then, the slow process of your children growing up and slowly “needing” you less and less… you take for granted what you have and the grass always seems to be greener on that other side. Thankfully, we know that life is full of phases, and what seems rough now will eventually phase on.
I’m in one big phase of learning patience right now. One of the best movie lines was from Evan Almighty–between the wife and “God” (Morgan Freeman)–in it God says:
“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”
(you can read about this scene and a discussion here)
Well boy am I ever being given opportunities to learn patience and how to love my girls right now. What is going well for Ladybug Girl now? If it’s not a temper tantrum it’s waking up in the night, if it’s not that, it’s being clingy and not getting enough of me, if it’s not that, it’s her not wanting to share. Anything. (That includes me).
Today started off so nice. We played this morning, went to Target and picked out gifts for a birthday party, ate a nice lunch together (and Ladybug Girl ate so well!) and she went down for a nap like a saint. We picked out a matchbox car at Target that she would get when she woke up from her nap if she didn’t throw a fit. I put her down, and finally have a chance to work. Yeah right. Cue Snugglepuppy. I do the eat, wake, sleep routine, so she was hungry. Although she usually somewhat falls asleep while nursing, she is wide awake when finished. It’s hard for me to do much on the computer while I’m nursing, although when I set up at the table I can manage. When I’m done she’s fine. As long as I’m 100% focused on her–either holding her or engaging in play with her. Great for Snugglepuppy playtime. Not great for accomplishing anything with work. I get her to sleep and get a full twenty minutes of work in! By this point it’s nursing time again. Then playtime. Round 2. Finally get her to sleep. Cue Ladybug Girl.
It’s now been only an hour and a half since Ladybug Girl went down. When she woke up, she was just flat disagreeable, announcing her waking by wailing at the top of her lungs for no apparent reason. Snugglepuppy of course started screaming to be fed at the exact same time. I went in to give Ladybug Girl love and praise her for getting a smiley face for going down for nap so well. She proceeded to whine and say she doesn’t want a smiley face.
“I want a frownnnnny face.”
“Don’t you want to get your car we picked out that you get if you have a smiley face?”
“I don’t want nothiiiiiiiing!”
“You’re being awfully whiney…maybe we should just go watch a little bit of a movie since you
went to sleep so well. We can sit together while I nurse Snugglepuppy.”
“Okaaaaay…….I DON’T WANNA WATCH A MOVIE!!!”
(At this point I’m nursing El and can’t get up)
“Ladybug Girl, you’re having a hard time not whining. You need to go to your room until you can come
out happy. Go get all your whines out and come see me when you’re happy, please.”
“Okaaaaay….(makes it to the kitchen, slams herself down on the floor) I DON’T WANNA BE HAPPY!!”
So now I stand up while still nursing Snugglepuppy (so she doesn’t erupt into her banshee scream) and go in where Ladybug Girl is lying face first on the floor screaming. I calmly help her stand up and walk herself to her room where she again throws herself face-first on the carpet in there. Then I give her some time to calm down. A full 45 minutes later she’s winding down some, and I know my Ladybug Girl well enough to know that she can keep this up for the rest of the day. So, I wait for a moment of calm and go in and ask her if she wants to be happy. She does. I let her know I didn’t like her behavior and what she could do differently, and that crisis is over.
Of course, now that these crises are over, work still hasn’t been completed, dinner hasn’t even been thought of, (although I managed to clean up the kitchen while Ladybug Girl was screaming and I was holding Snugglepuppy with one hand), and Nathan is due home in 30 minutes. So what do I do? We read a book. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Hmm.
I have these moments where it all gets to me. I’m so thankful I have Nathan to help me–my deepest sympathy to those parents that have to handle parenthood alone. It’s a tough road sometimes, and I’m only 2 and a half years into it! Thankfully, I know we’ll go through phases. Phases of tough times with non-sleeping babies and toddlers with tantrums, and phases of cuteness that we saw at 8 months to one and a half with Ladybug Girl, and elementary school years of precociousness before they hit the scary teenager (and even preteen) phase… And thankfully there are moments even in the midst of phases, where Snugglepuppy’s whole face lights up and she’s just moments from erupting into her first big belly laugh, where Ladybug Girl wraps her little arms around me and hugs me and tell me “your my favoritist mommy in the whole wide world”, where Snugglepuppy “converses” with me with her coos, and Ladybug Girl dances like a princess naked throughout the house.
These are the moments that get me through the ugly phases. These are the times that make me see through a child’s eyes. Snugglepuppy knows the most comforting place for her is in her mommy’s arms–that’s why she wants it all the time. Ladybug Girl can get just as overwhelmed by hearing Snugglepuppy’s cries as we can in the car. She wants mommy’s attention, too. How can a 2-year-old cope with the fact that she likes this new sister deal but she doesn’t want to share her mommy and all of the attention?
There are times when I whine and complain–where I lose my patience and my temper and want to just get away from it all. And there are times where it’s okay for me to vent that. But there are other times when I can’t. When I’m with my kids, I can’t. And it’s dawning on me that what I’m teaching them now is the same thing I’m constantly reminding myself. There are times where you can let your feelings out–but you have to learn how to do it in a positive way–and in an appropriate place and time. Unlike Dorothy, I can’t just click my heels and be somewhere else. Ladybug Girl’s outbursts, well, I feel that same way too! It’s my job to help her handle them in a way that works.
The weight of my parenting job is heavy now, because I’m seeing that these moments now–these emotional outbursts and figuring out ways to cope are the foundations our girls will lean on for the rest of their lives. I want to make sure they are heard. I want to make sure they feel safe and loved. I want them to know that they need to respect others with their actions, but that doesn’t mean to bottle their emotions in. I think we can do this. I think we’ll get through this. Along the way, though, I know we’ll all be learning. Ladybug Girl has a “reflection chair” that she may fall back on when she’s in her twenties and needs a place to sit and reflect. She’s learning that Mommy and Daddy will always listen to her, but when we say no, we mean it. She’s learning to respect kids and animals by the Golden Rule. And I’m learning that parenting is hard stuff, but no matter how many “Dorothy” moments I have throughout the day, I’m hit with way too many moments I cherish with each of my girls to ever give this parenting thing up.
Tags: character, children, discipline, learning, make a difference, mistakes, parenting
There comes a time in every parent’s life where you ask “Where did I go wrong?”It seems your child will always find a way to throw you for a loop, whether its by cheating in a game, smarting off, or the scary world of teenagers, where “finding yourself” means the more dangerous, the better.We wonder what we should have done differently, or if we said something wrong that has messed them up for life.We set these high hopes that our kids will be doctors and lawyers, successful and healthy.We expect them to learn from OUR mistakes, and be smart enough not to make their own.
But how does that really allow them to learn?Did YOU learn from your parent’s mistakes?I know my mother made a conscious effort to break a cycle of abuse and unhealthy relationships that she knew in her family, so I guess no matter what, a child does learn something from a parent’s unhealthy choices.But there are many things in life that we can’t just learn by living vicariously through someone else.You can’t tell a toddler how to walk—they have to take those steps themselves.You can’t teach a child to drive without handing over the wheel.
And sometimes, our kids will put us through the worst kind of grief—they’ll make a horrible mistake that puts them in the hospital, gets them arrested, hurts someone else…They’ll get lost in addictions, they’ll protest everything they idolized in you when they were toddlers.I wonder, though, maybe it’s not that being a perfect parent means your child won’t make mistakes—maybe the trick to being as close to a “perfect” parent as you can be is how you handle when they DO make mistakes.And believe me, they will.I know what my brothers and I put my parents through, and parenting doesn’t stop when they move out of the house—we STILL can put my parents through grief.Every child, you and me included, makes mistakes in life.But maybe, instead of them being mistakes to be regretted, they are lessons that can be learned.Maybe the hard times are what help us to become a better person.Maybe, just maybe, instead of us, as parents, wondering where we went wrong, we can focus on helping our children to figure out what’s right.
A mistake stays a mistake unless you learn something from it.And if you learn something, it becomes a valuable stepping stone of maturity in your life.So how can we, as parents, handle situations where our kids hit rock bottom?The hard truth is that it’s not ours to handle—we have to allow our kids to hurt, and we have to allow our kids to learn.We can love them along the way.We can support but not enable.And we can interact.How does this make you feel?What are you going to do about it?How are you accepting responsibility?Then open up to them—how do I feel?Am I upset because my child didn’t live up to my expectation, or am I upset because they put themselves in danger, or they’re hurting themselves?
Helen Keller once said “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”Let’s allow our children to build character.My hope is that I’m strong enough to rise above my own anger, hurt, and expectations, and help my child to build that character that will make them the amazing adult they will become.And maybe, just maybe, we both will learn a lesson together…and be stronger for it.
Tags: attitude, children, discipline, positive thinking, tantrums
When I was a little girl, my parents’ motto was “say yes whenever possible.”My brothers and I were the kids that could show up at school with a Superman Cape and a tutu if we wanted.We were allowed to play in the mud, play dress-up in our parents’ closet, and scream at the top of our lungs….BUT it was always within the boundaries set by Mom and Dad.They gave us the world, a little at a time.We knew our limits.Yes, we can play in the mud, but not in our Sunday clothes.Yes, we can wear what we want during playtime, but Mommy helps us pick out Sunday-appropriate clothes.Yes, we can play dress-up in our parents’ closet, but raiding Mommy’s makeup stash and covering the walls is a major no-no.And as for screaming…this was my favorite.
Sometimes kids throw tantrums—it’s their only way to get out their emotions.Sometimes they need to keep their emotions in check.Throwing a tantrum in a grocery store—not allowed.All of us knew where every bathroom was in every store.It only took a few times before we realized the rules—tantrums in public places did not give us control—it didn’t make Mommy leave, it didn’t allow us to get what we wanted, it just resulted in punishment, which for us, meant a spanking in the bathroom (which I know is unheard of nowadays).Regardless of what punishment method you use for your children, there are places where it is unacceptable to pitch a fit.The key, though, is to allow a place where they CAN.
I used to get so angry when I was little—my middle brother and I were very close, and he would pick on me and I’d get furious.I was given a choice—if I needed to vent, I could go in my room, close the door, and do whatever to get my anger out that wasn’t destructive (cry, scream, beat a pillow), but I could not do it in the living room, at a store, or by hitting my brother.I distinctly remember storming down the hall, shutting my door (not slamming it, as this was a no because of squished fingers), and screaming my lungs out.I’d cry in my pillow, scream out loud, sit around, and come back out a new person.
This brings us to attitude.My Dad would always tell me that “you are in charge of your attitude.”I could choose whether I was happy or sad, excited or mad.And when we were in a bad mood and taking it out on others, we got an “attitude adjustment,” which consisted of us sitting and listening to a motivational tape, such as Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy.Sometimes we listened to inspirational sermons on different values that we were struggling with (being kind??!!).We learned valuable lessons during those times—it forced us to sit and think, and was much more effective than a basic time out, as we were learning principles to carry out in our lives, and new ways of handling situations.It’s funny how I’ll catch myself quoting something to my friends now that I learned during one of my “attitude adjustments.”
Now I understand that we are allowed to have every range of emotions-it’s okay to be angry or sad.It’s okay to let it out in a healthy way.But if it darkens my whole day and affects the mood of people around me—that is my fault.I have the power to feel and then move on.I can decide how my day will be.I can vent my frustrations and then be free to enjoy the rest of the day with my family.And now, when my daughter decides to scream her head off, I can be annoyed, take a deep breath, and know that I can choose to be happy anyway!And surprisingly enough, that also affects others, and my daughter usually ends up laughing with me and forgot what she was mad about in the first place!
Tags: boundaries, children, discipline, opportunities, parenting, positive thinking, security, self-confidence
Security comes to your child by more than just a blanket.Although our kids may cling to their favorite lovey or toy, the real security comes from you, their parent.And it’s not just by hugs and kisses on boo-boos, but by boundaries.Boundaries, you say?How can I be loving to my kid by saying “no, no, no”?I say you can be firm in where you stand, be strict in what is necessary, and end up having a “yes, yes, yes” world for your child.
Let me explain.Imagine you are stranded in the middle of the ocean with no land in site—it’s a scary thought. A vast sea is overwhelming to anyone, much less a small child where the world is huge anyway.Think about all the dangers, possibilities, opportunities, and curiosities there are to explore in this world.It’s daunting and overwhelming…about like trying to find a needle in a haystack (or a box of cereal in the cereal aisle).But a small bathtub is a world of fun.In a bathtub, your child can be in charge of her own sea—from one end to the other.She knows what’s all around her—she knows where the water comes from, she knows who is sitting by the side of the bathtub while she plays.
When you have a toddler who is learning independence, the world is even more of a daunting ocean—your child needs you for assurance.If I walk out of mommy’s sight, what will happen?If I throw the cup on the floor, does it disappear?If I hit daddy, is it funny?If I don’t want to go, will Mommy leave me?
Think about that last question.How many times do you play a trick on your child with reverse psychology?
“I don’t want to go!’
“Okay, fine, bye!”
Which then proceeds to a melt-down of:
“Don’t leave me!”
Will you really leave him?Can you reasonably leave a child in the middle of a crowded store?What lesson does it teach him?If I have a different opinion from Mom, and she doesn’t like it, she’s gone.What security does that instill?Instead if they know what their choices are, and the consequences that come from those choices, they in essence have a “fence” of security…much like being able to see the walls of the bathtub.Mommy makes the boundary and I’m in control of the choices I make inside it.
Security is in knowing what is allowed and what isn’t.Your child can have the world…but can they handle it?That is where you come in.You help monitor that world a little at a time.You allow them to play loose in the yard, knowing they can go anywhere in the yard within the boundaries you laid out with them.They are king of their universe…and you are the castle they come home to.You see, the more you help them lay out what is allowed and what isn’t, the more you are able to say “yes!” to their world.They know not to touch the outlets or hit their sister.They also know that their playroom is their domain and the back yard is subject to all the exploration they want.
Security comes by loving your child enough to be firm in your rules, even when they are not loving back to you.Security is knowing your little girl won’t run out in the street because she knows the consequence—it’s the same consequence you’ve given her every time.Security is your little boy knowing he is in control of whether he has a grumpy day or a happy day (remember only YOU are in charge of your attitude!), and no matter whether he likes it or not, you will NOT leave without him.He can choose whether he’ll be happy about that.Security is your child knowing that you expect respect because you give THEM respect.It’s being firm in where you stand, but always stopping to truly listen to what they feel.“There are two lasting gifts you can give your children—one is roots, the other, wings.”Give them the foundation—the rules, the consequences, and your unconditional love, no matter whether they decide to break the rules or follow them.Then give them wings to explore their world—to say yes five times more than you need to say no—to only say no when absolutely necessary (and be prepared to stand firm), and say yes to all the days in the mud, the days of dressing herself, and the moments when they truly ARE superman.
She’ll outgrow her favorite teddy bear.He’ll hang up his blanket cape.But they will always have their security in you—make it count!