Trust Your Heart
For the most part, friends and family wonder how it is possible that our children listen to us so well. At first glance, all looks great when it comes to our children following instructions; doing as they are told; and not wreaking havoc in the house.
Well, it didn’t come easily and all I can say is that we have our ups and downs. There are moments where all is smooth and seamless and then there are times when for whatever reason, it all steers towards uncontrollable chaos. During those times, we realize that its times to pull the reigns in. This weekend was one of those moments.
How Do I Discipline a Child That Refuses to Be Disciplined?
My son is now 7 and although we had our challenges when he was younger, he pretty much knows the drill and doesn’t really mess around anymore. He is clear on what a warning is and that’s only because we have been consistent with what happens after a warning (and it’s usually a consequence he is not thrilled about). With my daughter, the challenges have come and gone. She is very powerful and fully self-expressed. She has no problem letting us know how unhappy she is when things don’t go her way. She isn’t really phased when things are taken away from her; she’ll put herself in “time out” so that we don’t; she will yell back if you raise your voice at her; she is very sensitive and emotional if you upset her; oh, and she has an answer for everything. She just turned 5. We will need all the help we can get when she is a teenager.
For over a year things have been smooth, but lately she is pushing her boundaries here and there all over again. She is testing the waters in the home lately. So I’ve decided it’s time to take a look deeper at what is going on with her. I’ve made sure there have been no changes in our home life, school life, or anything that can be stirring her up inside. Usually, a child reacts when there is some sort of change or discomfort in their little world. I haven’t picked anything up on my radar yet, but I will keep her close to me, so that she knows what is expected. Normally, she gets reminders of what is acceptable, what our family rules and values are – sometimes she just needs to sit out for a bit. I always try and match the discipline with whatever happened so that it is cohesive for her. If she doesn’t set the table with us, she sits on the stairs and watches us do it as a family until we see she’s ready to join us. Sometimes we have to do this for a few days in a row till she realizes that it’s the only way things are done, (and sitting on the stairs is no fun) and so she finally joins the family. This works really nicely eventually, and being consistent with it really helps her “get it”. And there’s no hurt feelings for anyone. Wonderful.
And then we have weekends like the one that just passed. Zoe had to put her laundry away (this is her newest chore, and boy does she not like it). I reminded her to do it, as my son and I put ours away so that she gets that it is a family chore – it is what we all do. For 10 minutes all I heard was how much she hates to do this. Then she spent another 10 minutes screaming on the floor and whining. I went inside and explained that it is not something she has to always enjoy, but this is something that needs to be done. No luck. Back to whining she went once I left the room. I gave her, her warning that she will not go to the afternoon birthday party (she was dying to go to) if she continued. Then she began screaming at me and said a few mean and inappropriate things directed at me. Should I share it? Nah, use your imagination for this one. So she made her choice, and I had to follow through with my warning so that she knows what to expect when there is a warning. No party for her. I contacted my sister in law and she picked up my son and took him to the party. My daughter and I arrived at the party towards the end to give our family our wishes and to pick up my son. The message for Zoe was clear.
Follow through and consistency work like magic, but what works more than anything for my daughter is when the consequence matches the wrong doing. What works even better, is when it is done with love (if possible – although this can be challenging during a heated moment). When she couldn’t go to the party, she was so upset – she actually flipped out. I gave her a hug, and told her that I understood she was upset, and so was I. We snuggled together and took our nap together. Although we were upset, she knew she was loved. That shifted the situation so that it wasn’t about me and her – it was about her, and her actions which led to a consequence. I was there to just help her “get it”.
Now let’s just hope she got it. Stay tuned till next week’s post and I’ll let you know how it all rolled!