Here are my thoughts on discipline.  Of course the idea is that the mom (parent) is on top of her game at all times and can think clearly enough to implement creative solutions rather than losing her temper and going ballistic on the kids.  I try to discipline by non-invasive methods, natural consequences, choices and respect.  When those fail, we can fall back on ballistic and of course the spanking option.

 

It is difficult to physically “make” somebody do something or stop them from doing something; for example squealing.  When Mae was about 18 months she started squealing.  It made the glassware in the cupboards nervous.  How do you stop this behavior in a toddler?  You can’t.  I designated her bedroom her “squealing room” because it had the best acoustics in the house, especially when the door was closed.  When she started squealing I would walk her down the hall to the squealing room, so she could enjoy the full force of it in the privacy of her room.  It was not punishment; it was a no-pressure solution to a situation we couldn’t control without the use of duct tape.  When we visited Grandma and Papa, we decided the upstairs bathroom had the best acoustics for squealing.  Once when Mae stayed with my folks, mom heard an unearthly screaming coming from the upstairs bathroom.  She rushed up to see what had happened.  Mae said, “It’s the squealing room, I was just squealing.”

 

Another non-invasive technique came to me in a flash of brilliance.  I was walking through our yard last fall and I noticed toys all over.  We have a large yard and we don’t rake our leaves, so toys are easy to lose that time of the year.  I decided to make a scavenger hunt out of it.  I made a list of the toys I remembered in the yard and added bonus points for things I didn’t remember, like shoes.  After about ten minutes Mae came to me with a suspicious look on her face and said, “Are you just having us pick up our toys?”

 

As a mother of four kids, two of whom think they are fashion models, I used to do nine loads of laundry a week.  That is a lot for our 23 year-old washing machine, and a lot of folding too.  Plan A was me doing all of the laundry from the collecting off the floor to the depositing in dresser drawers.  Someone was always upset because “You put her stuff in my drawer!” As the ladies got to be pre-school age and in Kindergarten I implemented Plan B, having them put their own clothes away.  I folded the clothes, put them in a basket and they sorted them, wadded them up and put them in their dressers.  I moved to Plan C several months later.  I piled their clean clothes in a basket for them to sort, wad up and put in their dressers as they pleased, saving me the pointless chore of folding. Then I started finding matched socks in the dirty laundry, folded shirts and even clean swimming suits.  I was also hearing a lot of, “I don’t have any clean pants!” (Or socks, or shirts, or underwear.)  At this time I implemented Plan D.  This involves them being responsible for their own laundry from washing to drying to folding (or wadding up) and putting away.  I showed my 7 and 6 year-old girls where the washing machine was and made a little chart on which cycles they would likely need.  I told them I am available for consultations as needed but I am no longer responsible for their clean clothes.  I will put their clothes in the drier and start it as needed.  Just this morning, Mae was crying because she didn’t have any clean socks.  I was sympathetic but not guilt ridden.  The ladies are washing a load of laundry as I type.

 

I really like Parenting With Love and Logic.  They are big on giving kids choices, like do you want to clean your room before snack time or after?  I have found that when my kids are edging towards naughtiness I just need to overwhelm them with choices and they start concentrating on what they want to choose rather than stalling at bedtime.  My kids sleep at the “silly” end of their beds rather than the “boring” end about half the time, but they are choosing to get into bed and not being told to do so. 

 

I didn’t nag the ladies to clean their room this afternoon when they got out of school early (12:30).  I told them they could come out when it was clean.  It is now 6:15 and they are still cleaning their room because they got distracted and played instead.  The gentlemen and I are done with supper, and nobody has done their homework.  The ladies might have to get up early to do homework because I am not going to budge on bedtime. 

 

We stress treating others with respect.  I don’t really do time out, I ask what happened.  I do not ask who started it.  When I learn what happened, (one person is rarely at fault, it takes two to fight) we figure out what is fair and what will prevent this from happening again.  Sometimes it means playing in separate rooms.

 

The gentlemen like to help me cook.  Paul was on the chair helping when I asked him to wash his hands.  While he was doing this, Leo climbed on the chair.  When Paul saw Leo in his spot he poked Leo and made him cry.  When I asked what had happened, Leo (nearly 4) told me with surprising insight what had happened and why.  Paul (2 ½) looked at me and told me, “I have go time out.”  Leo interrupted and told him, “We do that at Miss Tami’s; at home we have to apologize.”  Paul gave Leo a hug and told him he was sorry.  Leo moved over and Paul climbed onto the chair.

 

When I lose it, and I am not gonna lie to you, I do lose it, I try to inject humor.  For example I will stomp down the hall and say, “What in the wild, wild world of sports is a-going on around here?” (surely you have seen Blazing Saddles)  Another favorite movie is Annie! “Do I hear happiness in here?” or “I’ll step on your freckles!”

 

The Love and Logic guys stress letting consequences happen instead of enforcing punishments which don’t fit the crime.  However, some “crimes” defy all logic and as parents we have to do something…

 

Jane got her first hair cut; it was a cute bob that highlighted the gentle curls in her hair.  Mae was probably three-and-a-half.  She got the scissors and…000_0022 well she did this to Jane’s hair.  I spanked her.  I spanked her in anger and I spanked her when I was done being angry.  She has never lifted a pair of scissors to anyone’s hair again.  She came to understand quickly that she had done something very wrong.  All the crying I did probably helped her come to that conclusion too.  We found a beautician who “fixed” it with the shortest wedge ever.Watergun 3

 

It was about a year and a half ago that Nebraska scandalized the nation by implementing a safe haven law allowing parents to drop their children off at a hospital, no matter what age.  After about 30 days and nearly 20 children (none babies) later they altered the law to change child to infant.  Lately I have noticed billboards and TV advertisements about where families can get help.  Parenting is the toughest job ever; your mistakes can be passed on for generations.  Unfortunately you can’t always be on top of your game, and kids can sense that.  If I am functioning at a less than optimal level I try to inject humor, but it doesn’t always happen.  If I need to get away, I go outside.

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