Mom to Mom – Finding Better Ways to Discipline
Exhausted from everything feeling like a battle??? I AM! Today I took an online webinar focused on getting kids to listen without nagging reminding or yelling. I’ve been seing this course for the past few weeks, and this afternoon found myself at the point where I needed to do something different, or I just didn’t know what I’d do the next time my kids acted out, or worst, ignored me completely.
I went in very optimistic, but, of course, I was also thinking “yeah right”.
The tips and tricks I picked up really do sound amazing, and I plan to put them into effect TODAY, probably as soon as my boys wake up from nap time. I’m feeling so positive about what I heard, I want to share it with all of my mommy friends who may ever find themselves in my shoes.
Even with 2 kids, at times I feel like a new mom, not sure what to do, how to respond, or if I’m raising them the right way – I’m learning how to be a mom every single day, not sure that will ever end. There have been days that end in me raising my voice trying to take charge of a situation, and in most cases, it’s just not effective with my boys. I don’t want to be that mom who yells at her children, and 4 years into this, I have noticed my tone changing to bolder, and louder. I DO want respectful children who know what’s right from wrong, and behave, doing what they are supposed to do without a whole lot of micromanagement. Let’s get real – NOBODY likes to be micro managed, why do we think little ones are any different?
The vicious cycle I experience day in and day out looks a little like this:
- Ask / Repeat / Remind / Repeat / Remind
- I get frustrated, have an adult tantrum, still getting no results
- Leaving ME feeling like the bad guy
Why do kids really misbehave?
Emotionally, kids have a hard-wired need for positive attention and power. When children act whiny, clingy, or helpless it may be to get attention, because let’s face it, it works for them in many circumstances. When children have tantrums, or display signs of sibling rivalry it may be a sign they don’t feel a sense of independence, autonomy, or say in the world. Not having this autonomy would drive anyone a little bonkers, right? The webinar I listened to says kids only continue the behavior that work for them – ok, I believe this. Just like me, if a behavior is getting the attention or result you’re looking for, why stop?
While we can’t “MAKE” our kids to things like eat, sleep or go potty on our schedule, we know that every baby is born with free will – a free will to listen, cooperate, do the right thing, OR, dig in their heels and fight us every step of the way. While we THINK we can make our kids behave, truly, it’s always their choice! What does this mean? It means us parents need the right strategies to work with our children, verses against our little ones needs.
Here are things I’ve tried in working towards raising respectful, good little decision makers:
This is my go-to right now. When the boys misbehave, I tend to raise my voice, then send them to the couch, or bedroom for some quiet time. Typically, this ‘time out’ escalates the bad behavior, and rather than the boys considering why they made a bad choice, they are fighting the request to reflect on the circumstances and are sneaking out of their time out spot, or flopping around on the floor.
1 – 2– 3 … Who has ever counted down??? Has it worked for you? It worked for me in the past, but now, the boys almost WAIT to see what mom and dad will do once we get to 3. Not what I had in mind.
Any tactic using blame, shame or pain – spanking anyone? Yes, I’ve done it. I never thought I’d be a parent who spanked, and even using it from time to time, I don’t feel like this method works to teach a lesson. As a matter of fact, now that the boys KNOW what a spank is, if I warn them this is a consequence for continuing or doing an action, they seem to taunt us, are becoming better liars to work their way out of it, and sometimes even run for the hills knowing what’s in store. Again, not what I had in mind.
What I have been looking for are better ways to teach my kids to make better choices, better ways to discipline them for inappropriate behavior. I’ve learned that misbehavior is never just a kid problem; parents (that’s me) most certainly contribute to problems. Personality is a big one … I am a bit “my way of the high way” around home, and that certainly invites a power struggle.
Here are a few ways to set better consequences
Be calm and respectful (no blame, shame or pain) – if you can’t deal with the situation in the moment, take a mommy break and re-visit the situation in a few moments or even another day entirely when the situation has passed and everyone is in a good mood.
Consequence should be related to the action. Related consequence for not wearing your helmet, is not being able to ride your bike. Related consequence for not brushing your teeth is not getting to snack any sweet snacks. If you don’t turn off the video game when I ask, you’ll lose your privileges. Throwing puzzle pieces around the room – pack up the puzzle and loose it for the rest of the day.
Reveal the consequence in advance, giving your children the power to influence how things work out. This gives them a choice, and a learning opportunity.
Have your children repeat back what will happen if they choose not to listen, that way they have agreed they understand, and if they don’t listen, it won’t be a surprise. They won’t like it, but again, it’s a learning opportunity and it’s more likely they will remember next time, verses just be angry at you and think life is unfair.
These little nuggets of goodness seem so simple, yet, I just haven’t tried them in the right way with my boys, yet. Tonight, is the night. While I could hope no circumstance comes up that I’ll need to use them, I just know toys will be left a strew, dads tools will be missing, they will find their way to play in some serious mud in the backyard … or they will decide they don’t need to eat dinner. The hardest thing for me to do will be sticking with what I promise. I might try to be a tough mom, but really, I’m a softy in the end and just want them to be happy. I do feel though, that it’s a dangerous loop to be in – letting your kids get away with naughty behavior because you’re not able to hold your word. So, on that note, wish me luck with using a more respectful method of discipline … and if you’re a mom who feels like this might work for you, I wish you all the same luck!!! We can do this!!! The world needs well raised boys and girls, and I think it’s up to us to team them young.