Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Discipline Sucks

We’ve been going through a new phase in our house.

It is the ‘mine’ (as in the remote, my shoes, the dog's food) and ‘I want it’ (clutching her pj's all the way to school, the entire box of Cheerios, the dryer lint) and the ‘no mama, not nice’ (pulling her off the kitchen table, putting sunscreen on, insisting she wear a diaper) phase. The response to EVERY question is ‘no’ right now. The gut reaction to every frustrating situation is to hit. She knows it is wrong. Sorry has become solidly ingrained in her vocabulary. She is able to catch herself mid-strike at times and turn it into a pet, but it is running rampant.

No’s and defiance have been around for awhile, but lately it is becoming savage and are usually followed with threats of a time out.

Ahhh…. The time out.

It usually works. The threat alone puts her in check and she backs down. For a few minutes anyway. There have been more and more cases lately where the intentional aggression is just too much.

You know, like hitting me for no reason, at least that I can figure out. Then after several warnings of ‘We don’t hit. Not nice’ she looks me right in the eye and throws puzzle pieces across the room.

Then she pushes us too far and we have to follow through on the threats.

We’ve only actually given time outs 3 or 4 times, and they’re never very long. Usually 20 seconds on the couch without toys or books or hugs. She sits there looking so forlorn, our eyes locked, while I count to twenty. After the walls crumble and we move on with hugs and books.

It kills me to do it. I wish she knew that. I guess that is why I am typing this.

Yesterday, my friend Kelly tweeted this:
Just made the boy stand in a corner facing the wall for a one-minute time-out. Seems very Dickens-esque, but I was pushed.

It made my heart sink for her, but made me feel a little better.

I keep second guessing myself with discipline. It makes me feel better to know that others struggle with this too. I keep worrying that Grace is to little for discipline. That we are somehow harming her and will be repaid for our efforts with an out-of-control teenager that denounces authority because of latent memories of time outs. (And all the other punishments that I’m sure will be in her future.) Or, almost worse, that she’ll be like me and is so afraid of being told no or getting in trouble that she never pushes boundaries.
I know that boundaries are good at this stage though. Without being told that hitting isn’t OK and standing on chairs is dangerous, she might as well be running around feral, and I know there is no right or wrong answer to my questions. I just hope we pick the right path for us. And her.


noteverstill said...

Box of cheerios to school? L insisted on bringing two bathing suits today for waterplay. Not one. Two. And she needed to hold them. And she wanted to wear her water shoes instead of her regular sandals. And I had to take them out of her hands to pack them up and strap her into the car against her flailing will and only then put her sandals on her feet, after she was physically restrained via the carseat. Then she threw her shoes on the floor of the car and when we got to school she wouldn't let me put them back on her so I put her on the sidewalk barefoot while I gathered her sister and the bags. which was a mistake, because she got her swim bag when I set it down to help her sister out, and she unpacked it right on the sidewalk, and proceeded again to try to put her swim shoes on. And when, mean mommy that I am, I packed her two bathing suits and swim shoes and swim diaper and towel back into the bag so I had a hope of carrying it and the two lunch bags into daycare, she decided to just lie down on the sidewalk and have a tantrum - as the bus discharged at least 30 coworkers. And of course, E ran inside with a friend, giggling and carrying nothing.
I put her over my shoulder and carried her barefoot and kicking and screaming into daycare and then had to go back outside for the bags.
We've got your back on this phase. It isn't pretty.

Kelly O said...

I hear you. I would SO much prefer to have a discussion where I tell the kid why I don't like what they're doing, they tell me why they did it, I offer an alternative, we both come to an understanding and hug, all feeling we've been heard and appreciating the opposing perspective.

... Heh.