Jun 9, 2012

The Best Form of Discipline I have Found-A Real Mommy Moment

I thought as my kids got older they were supposed to be over their "terribles" but that doesn't appear to be the case.  Consequently I find myself searching out discipline ideas and tactics for handling the "strong willed" child more than ever before.  But of all the things I have found and read and tried this one seems to always work best: paying attention to my children.  It seems like for every 10 minutes of quality time I give them I get 20 minutes of peace and calm and kindness and playing well together in return.  It is when I am trying to "get things done" that I spend so much of my time settling arguments, setting time out buzzers, calming down a meltdown and comforting a crying child, not to mention trying to get my own emotions under control and not flying off the handle.  When I take time to watch the latest crazy dance, or play a game, or push swings, or color on the couch I have far less discipline problems.  I am not saying they are gone entirely but they are much less and I feel better about myself as a mom because I am not tense and angry and I am doing what is most important for a mom to do: pay attention to her kids.  Case in point: Small Fry was having a day.  I think she had been in time out a few times and had been sent to her room a few times to calm down until she was ready to talk nice and not scream and kick and be rude.  Time after time she came back to find me and stomp her foot and clench her teeth and scream at me or her sister.  Finally while she was in her room again the thought came to my mind, "the tea set" and I said to my husband, "is there something that you can do with pumpkin for a few minutes so that I can do something just will small fry and give her the attention that I know she is needing right now?"  He agreed.  I went in to talk to her about not acting the way she was and how I needed her to say she was sorry for how she was acting and use kind words and she was crying and just wanted to be held.  I told her that when she was ready to be calm then she and I would go on a special date to run some errands and buy some cookies so that we could all have a family tea party.  She was super excited about that idea.  (Now in case you are thinking this, I did not feel that the tea party was a reward for her acting the way she was.  I felt that she had fully mended the damage done to the best of her 4 year old ability and used the tea party as a much needed time for us to be together in hopes that it would lessen any future outbursts for the day).  We went to run errands while my husband took pumpkin to the school with him where she got to be the center of attention.  We bought cookies that small fry picked out and grapes and got home and got the tea set all ready.  We found extra stuffed animals to have as guests to the party and were ready and waiting when sissy and dad got home.  Then we all sat on the floor for a fabulous party complete with spills and pinkies up in the air.  It was wonderful.  The girls loved every second and the best part of all was that we didn't have another incident with tantrums or melt downs for the rest of the day.

It is not nearly as easy to play with my kids as I thought it would be before having kids.  It takes time and creativity and effort but man does it ever make a difference.  They would have me be at their beckon call all day long if it was up to them and that just isn't possible but when I make time with them-and do some of the things they want, or come up with a creative thing for us to do together we just have better days, and I can't think of an easier form of discipline.  Put it to the test.
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  1. Thank you for this post and the one before they really hit home. We so very much want another child but if I could skip the birth I would be so happy. I think deep down I've know the more quality time I send with my little girl the better she will behave. I just find it so hard to do. I need to really try because I have been thinking a lot lately that she is growing up so fast and soon will not want to do as many things with me.
    Thank you
    April NS

    1. April,
      Before I had kids I was sure I was going to want to play with them every second of everyday and that I would want to do all the creative and crafty and cute things I always dreamed but it has turned out to be so much harder than I ever expected. It is something that I have to make sure I make time for and that I work at all the time. Somethings come easily and others are harder for me to do but when i make myself do it, it makes such a difference. Even little things make a big difference and they do grow so fast.

  2. This was really a blessing to be honest. I think I am going to try this and see what happens at our house. We've tried everything else literally and while we deal with special needs maybe this will work on some of those days just to make them a little more bearable.

    1. Maybe having a little stack of ideas or activities that are easy but different to pull out on those crazy days will help. I have a few easy ideas coming up in a week or so but there are tons out there. I try not to repeat them too often so the newness doesn't wear off. And if I know some crazy days may be ahead i try and mentally think of things I could pull out at a moments notice that can change the whole atmosphere. One of my favorites is a blow up air mattress that we use as a indoor trampoline. it is a life saver and so easy to set up. Good luck.

  3. Your post reminds me of that Swedish quote that goes something like "love me when I least deserve it because that is when I need it the most."

    I have found this strategy to work wonders in the classroom as well. When I was student teaching there was a girl named Christy who I swore had little horns growing out of her head. She was so mean to the other kids. Well, her teacher devoted 20 minutes after school each day to letting Christy hang with her. They sharpened pencils and washed the boards and just talked about whatever Christy wanted. I admired her teacher so much for spending more time with this kid who was so hard to be around and she told me basically what you said here.

    Now that I teach in the ghetto, I see it every day. The naughtiest kids are the ones who have the least attention from adults in their lives. Giving them just a bit more has huge rewards.

    As the school year winds down and I am busier than ever, discipline problems have ramped up. Thank you for this timely reminder. I needed it tonight.

  4. You are such a good mom, and you do so many wonderful things. Don't sell yourself short. It is hard, but so worth it.

  5. This is similar to what I call "Time In". When our kids are at their worst that is when they need us he most! Instead of separating ourselves from them (or them from us) we need to give them more of us.


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