Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right? (Part 5)

Happy New Year and Merry Little Christmas, everyone! Welcome to 2014 and the New Year’s first post at ‘da blog.’

I’m hoping to wrap up the parenting topics we dealt with prior to the holidays coming in and taking life over, lol. One li’l Christmas 2013 memory ties in, that of the bag of coal Younger Son (YS) got attached to one of his gifts. Several years ago, he was much more difficult to deal with, so we punked him, if you will, and wrapped up some coal Older Son (OS) found somewhere outdoors.

YS was very offended that Christmas morn. Jumped up, ran away crying—very dramatic. (Okay, we weren’t trying to be so mean. Nor did we expect him to react so, lol. And yes, we felt badly.)

He handled it much better this time. “Again,” was all he said, after I called his attention to the little red bag attached to another gift.

bag of coal

That brings me to where I left off last time: dealing with me when it’s time to dole out the disciplinary stuff.

In my last post I talked about letting Older Son (a.k.a. Dawdle Boy) show up at school in his PJs. (Details on that episode here.) As a parent, sometimes the hardest thing is getting past my feelings when the kids do something that requires some kind of addressing or intervention.

Okay, I’ll admit that during those moments when a kid frustrated me ‘til no end I was happy to dole out discipline, punishment, or whatever you want to call it. I. Was. MAD. At those times, it’s easy to ground them for life, take away TV or whatever—I’m guessing underneath it all, I wanted to get even for him for putting me in a position to feel crazy as I did (and still do sometimes).

Did I mention YS is my challenge-child?

Back to our originally-scheduled next point: Follow-through. It’s the hardest part, folks. Once I calmed down, I had to get past feeling badly that my cherub now has to deal with being punished or disciplined.

(BTW, this isn’t even beginning to touch on the host of sentiments a parent deals with when kids are whining, negotiating, screaming “I hate you!” and all that other fun stuff they dole out when  doing their time, if you will. That stuff, you tune out in any way, shape or form you can—assuming no one will be physically hurt by any of the behaviors going on.

One more thing: if you can’t calm that child–or yourself–down enough to get them to time out or whatever other consequence you imposed–wait. Impose it later, when things have cooled down. It really works.)

Back to feeling badly. That is my problem. Real life demands I deal with the consequences of my actions. The same is true for EVERYONE around me—no exceptions.

When I take a step back and let my kid off the hook I erase a vital opportunity for him to learn that for every action there is (typically) a reaction.

A (quick-Ha!) illustration:

YS was about 8 years old. Hubby and I went out and Nonna (a.k.a Grandma) babysat. As soon as we got back OS was at the door informing us that YS had physically pushed his grandmother when she told him once and for all video game time was up for the night.

Nonna gave OS a look, then admitted she would have kept quiet about the episode. She felt badly about YS “getting in trouble.” (Of course OS, the informant, had no problem insuring li’l bro suffered the consequences. ;))

Now I know grandparents tend to have soft places in their hearts for the grandkids—and y’all know I would never have gotten away with behavior like that.

So, YS had to apologize to Nonna on the spot. Next his video games went away for the following three weeks. (Nonna objected—again, she felt badly—but that’s the fun part of being the parent. My word now carries the weight, lol. And guess what: dealing with feeling badly was Nonna’s problem, not mine or YS’s.)

Was YS a ‘bad’ kid? No, just impulsive—very typical of kids, and of boys in particular. Although not formally diagnosed to date, my inner occupational therapist senses YS has a bit of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) going on; decreased impulse control is typically an issue with that crowd.

To wrap up that incident: YS spent the subsequent three weeks ticking off the days on the calendar. Chances are he whined and begged a bit—or more. (Kids do that! ;)) And yep, at times hubby and I felt badly (there’s that phrase again) but we didn’t give in.

Guess what: YS never pushed his grandmother again either. Plus, he learned hubby and I meant business.

(In case you missed them, links to the posts preceding this one are included in Part 4.)

What about you? How do you handle situations such as these? Do you follow through or fold? One more bigger illustration next time and then I should be done.

Have a great day and week, everyone. If you feel inclined, please SHARE. 🙂

Thanks,

Joanna

Discipline V. Control (Part 5): Regrouping

How to Regroup When You’ve Totally Lost It with your Kids (Or How to Start Your Day Over)

Welcome back, you marathoners! We are in the sprint toward the finish line! Congrats (and thanks) for having hung in with me this far: You are awesome!

We’ve spent the last few posts talking about discipline, control and the opportunity to learn. (If you missed them, click here for the first, second, third AND fourth—and don’t forget to come back!)

Okay, parents, or anyone who works with kids on a regular basis. We’ve all lost our cool and said or done something regrettable, yes? Raise your hand if this applies. Come on, no one will know but you and your screen—and remember that confession is good for the soul!)

I’m sure I’ve lost my cool and composure in numbers approaching the triple digits. Comes with parenting territory, a place I’ve lived for about twenty years now. (My stepsons were eight, four and six when I met my honey, and they were regulars at my house for the first five or six years we were married. They then moved with their mom and her husband, but by then I had two full-time kids of my own.)

This incident took place with my full-timers, on a day off from school for all of us when they were grammar-school age. I wanted to take them out to breakfast. All I’d asked is that they make their beds (i.e., pull one measly comforter neatly in place onto their beds) and get dressed.

Well, boys will be boys (clichés are clichés for a reason, folks) and mine did…nothing…related to what I asked. After my fifth (?) or so time of repeating the direction, I lost my temper. Big. Time. Said things I’m fortunate memory loss has washed away (can I blame hormones?) but wouldn’t dare repeat if I did remember them. (In other words, when I couldn’t control the situation I got MAD.)

Rather than beat them senseless, I left their room and went downstairs. Most likely, I cried and wondered how in the world I’d undo my behavior (in essence, a tantrum—yep, grownups have them too). Luckily, I remembered an invaluable quote: Whenever I choose, I can ‘start my day over any time.’

As I stated in my previous post, don’t ask me where I get this stuff. For inexplicable reasons, I got three erasers out of the pencil drawer. I went upstairs and handed each of the guys one of them. I then told them that Mommy had behaved badly and that a lot of ‘bad behavior’ had taken place in their room and that we were going to erase all the bad behavior away.

Well, we did just that–air erased all that ‘bad behavior’ away. I’ll be darned, that insane little idea changed the mood for the day. The boys got their acts together—as did I—and we had a great breakfast and a good day.

Have you lost it as a parent? If so, what did you do to ‘turn it around,’ as my hubby likes to say? What were the results?

Thanks so much, folks, for indulging me during this mini-series. Amazing how three simple words (the original nugget for one post, Discipline or Control) took on dimensions all its own. Please note too, that children with severe behavior problems might have underlying issues going on. Talking with professionals who deal with kids on a regular basis can be very helpful. If you’re struggling, get in touch with a teacher, pediatrician, psychologist, related service provider (i.e., physical, occupational or speech therapist) or behaviorist. Read parent forums and use information there as a springboard to give you an idea of what your child’s need might be. Remember that none of that information is gospel and should be used only as a guideline for further action that might be necessary.

Finally, look at your own motives and your own behavior. IMHO, it’s not about what I want. It’s about guiding my kids to be the best adults they can be by providing them an opportunity to learn via discipline.

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter and/or any of the share buttons below? (Feel free to post share links at any site not represented here you feel might benefit from the content as well.) Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

Have a great day,

Joanna

Discipline V. Control (Part 3): The Fruits of Discipline

Happy Tuesday, friends! Hope this week is treating you all well so far. For those of you catching up with this particular series, here are links to the preceding posts. I’m hoping you don’t get sidetracked and remember to come back! 😀

Discipline V. Control–Part 1

Discipline V. Control–Part 2

Back to the fruits of discipline, I recently got to watch first-hand a great example of how my son and his friends are utilizing their current repertoire of fishing skills. As many of you know from previous posts, kids are often at my house and usually hanging out in the kitchen when I’m getting dinner ready or cleaning. We often engage in conversation and I take every opportunity I can to teach. (One can hope I do so without being preachy and/or without showing surprise, shock or disapproval for all the stuff kids know nowadays that I had probably just begun learning at their age. They keep coming back, so maybe I’m doing something right? I also happen to love middle-school and now, high-school-aged kids. If they don’t feel judged, they’re very open and a whole lot of fun to have around.)

Anyway, I had my older son’s ‘core crowd’ over on a Friday evening. One of the boys grabbed his coat too when his ‘girlfriend’s’ mother (the one whose dad is said to be strict) came to pick her up. He wanted a ride to a party to which he’d been invited by another friend who wasn’t present at the moment. Because he was in my house, I went into mother-mode and started asking questions.

In short, this boy couldn’t come up with the better responses any parent hopes to hear when a kid is off to a high-school party. The boy who invited the dude at my house was reported to have met the party host, a senior, earlier that day—and the inviter is not known for sound judgment up front.

Mind you, I’m dealing with freshmen. I also was not in a position to tell the invitee he couldn’t go, which I made clear to him as I plied him with queries for details of where he was headed.

The core crowd of kids at my house chimed in, advising this guy to not go (for all the right reasons, too). He put on his jacket anyway and left with his girlfriend. He was back in five minutes’ time, having opted to hang out at my house for the rest of the evening. (He’s recently joined the wrestling team and voices liking how it keeps him out of trouble by being busy after school.)

Could I have asked for better? No way. This was peer pressure at its most positive. My older son’s core crowd of friends is far from perfect, but that incident shows me they’re—fingers crossed—on their way to making more sound decisions as time goes on. Makes me feel good too, to know these are the kids my son is with outside the house. I also realize this is a just-for-today moment, but can pray that more of these will string together on their road to adulthood.

At least this post turned out a little shorter, lol. Your thoughts? Experiences? I’d love for you to take a moment and share yours here. We parents and guardians are on an immensely challenging journey of raising kids to face a world far bigger and menacing than the one with which our parents had to deal.

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Thanks so very much!

Wishing each of you a joyful day,

Joanna

Discipline V. Control–Part 2

Welcome back! Hope you’ve had some time to digest last post’s discussion. (If not, take a few minutes and read it now but don’t forget to come back!)

Are you ready to delve in a little further? Awesome. Just one quick thing: please remember, these are nothing more than my thoughts on these concepts, based on my parenting experiences to date. By no means do I consider myself an expert.

I ended last time with this thought: Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in the process of discipline.

Back to Dictionary.com: Respect has multiple definitions, but I chose those that apply to this essay.

As a noun, it refers to (1) esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability; (2) deference to a right, privilege, privileged position.

As a verb: (1) to hold in esteem or honor; (2) to show regard, or consideration for (i.e., someone’s rights); (3) to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with (i.e., a person’s privacy).

I won’t declare I’ve always practiced respect in all my parenting decisions. I can’t aver that I inherently understood what it means to show regard for my children’s needs. I am, however, blessed by having internalized early on that a little person does have feelings that need to be considered, something that hit me very clearly one day when my older guy was about eight months old.

We were on some multi-errand run and probably on, at the very least, our sixth stop. This means the little guy had already been dragged in and out of his car seat eleven times. Now mind you, this little guy had always been fine with being in the swing or bouncer or stroller for as long as I needed him to be or was willing to go. (He’s still pretty cool that way.) As I strapped him in for time number twelve, he started crying. Chances are, I was initially irritated with his reaction, but luckily, compassion clicked in and it hit me: This guy is tired. He’s had enough and shouldn’t be subjected to his mother’s inability to slow down.

I’d read parenting books—God knows, they abound— and then beat myself up over not being a ‘good mom’ because I couldn’t make the ideals depicted in those books happen. Lucky for me, a close friend (and mom) would remind me that if there were ONE most effective means, there’d be a lot fewer books on the topic. (My favorite: Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate, by Elizabeth Pantley. Currently, I’m browsing through George M. Kapalka’s Parenting Your Out-of-Control Child: An Effective, Easy-to-Use Program for Teaching Self-Control. Came across that one at a case manager’s office at school, and thought I could glean some wisdom for dealing with my younger, somewhat anxious, reactive and much-more-of-a-challenge son. BTW, if anyone is interested, he’s be available through Lent. I’m giving him up to the first willing taker. ;))

Okay, now that I’ve gotten sidetracked almost beyond repair, I learned, by reading those parenting books, that discipline is a form of teaching, as well as a form of living. My job is not to make the kids do what I say (controlling), but to guide them to the best choice available at any given moment (discipline).

Hopefully, they’ll exercise good judgment up front. When they don’t, one could hope they take advantage of the ‘opportunity to learn,’ assuming the consequences of their action(s) aren’t overly devastating or life threatening in any way. (Elizabeth Pantley deals with how to use natural consequences—or create logical ones—very nicely in her book.)

This segues me to the old adage, Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. When I fight for my way or that instant response to what I tell my kids to do for no other reason beyond I want my way (Gasp! Controlling again!), I’m not teaching them to fish. By guiding them to make wise choices today, I can only hope they’ll be laying out a foundation to make even wiser choices as they get older, and especially when they’re in a position to make (big) decisions without someone more experienced at their side.

We’ll pick up next time with the fruits of discipline.

So what are your thoughts on all this so far? What have you learned on your journey relative to authority and kids? No, you don’t have to be a parent to join the discussion. All kinds of interactions count (i.e., those of teachers, psychologists, baby sitters, siblings, grandparents, etc), so don’t be shy!

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. As always, I thank you!

TTFN,

Joanna

Finally! That New Series I Promised: Discipline V. Control

Discipline or Control?

I’m dedicating this one to my sweet friend Indi—from whose wisdom I gain so much, and who was kind enough to let me know she’d be looking forward to this post! (Has she been patient, too. Little did either of us know a single page of thoughts would morph into…ten?)

Yep. This one will be a series, friends and followers. One that will probably cover a minimum of five posts. Please feel free to chime in as often as you like. All thoughts welcome!

As many of you who read my musings regularly know, my boys are now teens. The older is fifteen, the younger thirteen. On almost any given day you’ll find as few as one and as many as seven of his friends in my home. During Christmas vacation, nine of them dropped in for an early afternoon ‘breakfast.’ One had come in from another state for the holiday, and was staying with a cousin where a total of eleven kids were hanging out for the week. (Two of those guys didn’t want to leave their video games. Off track as usual—sorry! Point is, I get to know these kids, and they start feeling like my own.)

As a mom, I often ask myself Am I raising them right? From the day my guys were born, my biggest struggle has always been finding a balance between disciplining them vs. being controlling. Just maybe, I’m starting to see the fruits of all these years of (frequently) agonizing over which one I am in any given situation that calls for me—or hubby—to step in and exercise parental authority.

Please bear with me through this disjointed trip, set to be delivered in a minuimum of five posts. (I know I get long-winded. Being someone who gets excited when I happen onto a short post elsewhere, I’m trying to do the same in my own blog home. And yes, seems I’ve fallen short again…)

Let’s start with definitions.

According to Dictionary.com, discipline has several definitions; among those training, punishment and instruction to a disciple (i.e., student).

Control, on the other hand, is to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command. (This one can give me the heebie-jeebies when I see it in action, or how its negative effects can manifest themselves.)

Real-life story illustration: On the Saturday before Christmas, we’d just gotten home around 8:30 PM from a get together at my sister’s-in-law. Within the hour, I’m hearing kids’ voices outside calling out to my older son. I figured they were coming from another friend’s, who lives three doors down from me. They came in for a minute then headed back out.

One of the girls often complains about how strict her parents are, especially her father. After they left, hubby asked if that particular dad knew his daughter was out walking around at that hour. I had no clue.

Didn’t think much about it until the next day, when one of those who was out the night before was over with her mom, and I made mention of my husband’s comment. This girl’s mom went off a bit on her daughter, after she realized her daughter and the other friends wandering around the night before had essentially been stranded at a neighborhood restaurant (which amounts to a 25-30-minute walk from my house). Sounds like a disagreement between the kids at the restaurant resulted in their ride being cancelled by the boy whose dad was supposed to provide it.

My immediate thought was: my kids would never have thought twice about calling me to pick them up. The girl whose father is strict may have been afraid to call. My son’s ‘girlfriend’ stated, “We didn’t want to bother you,” and the boy with them rarely asks for a ride from his parents. (His stepdad watches his toddler brother and his mother works on Saturday nights. His father lives about a half-hour away.)

The situation made me feel really good about my relationship with my kids so far. When they were really small, I found it very tough and often terribly frustrating to manage (a.k.a. control)  busy boy behaviors. Seems like then it was all about them getting to do what I wanted or expected, and I often felt resentful those times they did not. (Sometimes I still feel that way, lol.)

Too many times, I grappled with whether I was being permissive or letting them make choices out of respect for them as people, especially after I’d set a boundary then found myself discussing/negotiating it (a supposed no-no in the way of effective parenting, or so I’ve heard here and there).  Maybe what appeared to be negotiating then was my way of thinking aloud and making sense of the process as I lived it. (I still do that and my poor kids have to listen to it, lol. Good thing that older one is patient!)

Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in this process. We’ll talk more about this in the subsequent post. In the meantime, please go ahead and add your thoughts and experiences on this subject. Not an easy one, but one that is manageable with a shift in mindset.

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. As always, I thank you!

Until next time,

Joanna