The other day, my 10 year old and I had, what can only be described as, a ‘slagging match’. The more she answered me back, the more angry I got and the more I shouted! I was listening to myself shouting while thinking ‘what are you doing?’. It’s so hard to control yourself in the heat of the moment and stop yourself saying something you don’t mean. I’ve decided that I need a plan in place, in my head, ready for these situations because girls are manipulative from an early (I’m talking 18 months!) age! They are quick with their responses, excuses are their specialty, and they can make up (seemingly well rehearsed) answers to anything in seconds- certainly faster than my brain works!! I have a master, with her young apprentice, at work in my house and I need to keep on top of this! My standard (up-until-now) ‘because I said so’ just isn’t cutting it anymore, especially when I’m refereeing some sort of standoff between them, where they are both claiming to be the victim. J has likened them to Velociraptors, one keeps eye-contact while the other takes you out from the side, metaphorically speaking of course! The Boy however, is far more simple, he does wrong, I tell him off, he admits it, naughty step, sorry, kiss and cuddle, job done! I hope it stays that way!!
(Really wanted ‘Barbie’ to represent me but she failed the interview by not being able to stand!- Dora is probably more apt anyway…..)
So, what do I do?
I don’t believe in smacking. I don’t remember being smacked (only because I cried and apologised with the threat!), but my brother was smacked all the time and his standard response was, ‘Didn’t hurt’, which enraged my dad beyond belief! Consequently, I have only smacked my middle child on one occasion, on the bottom (she was a ‘lye on the floor, kicking and screaming’ type of child) and felt so guilty and ashamed, I have never done it again. It was in front of her sister, whom I had to explain myself to. I apologised to both and explained to my then 5 year old that I had gotten so angry that I had done something that I didn’t mean to do and that it made me feel so bad inside that I would never do it again. I haven’t, but now it’s more controlling my words as they spill out of my mouth, with out my brain’s consent, when I’m pushed beyond my limits!!
Apologise and admit when you are wrong, you expect your children to!
I think I did the right thing, apologising for my behaviour to my children. I expect them to apologise if they do something wrong and if I don’t, then they will think that behavior is acceptable and mimic it in future. I also don’t think it a bad thing to admit you’re not perfect, they’ll find out soon enough, right?!! 😉
So, here are my tips on disciplining, based on what has worked for me:
- Naughty step- love it! But before they were old enough to sit and ‘think about what they had done’, we used to put them on our lap, facing away, holding them firmly (but not tightly) so they were restrained and tell them why they had to sit there- they hated it!
- Don’t threaten something you can’t follow through, like ‘if you carry on, you are not coming on holiday next week’ sounds like a great threat but as they get older, they will realize that there is no way you’ll leave them!
- Think ‘short-term’ punishment- saying on Monday that the punishment will be not having ice-cream at the weekend, is too far away for them to comprehend. It has a far greater effect if you think of something more immediate. However, with older children, this can work as it gives a chance to earn something back, though I would still keep it to only 2 or 3 days away.
- Removal of favourite toys/ things to do- this has only become effective now that they are older (ipads etc). When they were younger, it just felt too cruel to take their favourite toy (which was also a comforter) and caused such uproar that the original crime was forgotten! Non-favourites were just ineffective! Removing TV was more of a punishment for me!
- Never take away the chance to regain the removed item- earning it back has often gained me a tidy house (at least their room), no-fuss homework or offers of extra chores!
What has worked for you? Do you have any tips for me and my quick-witted tweenagers (a term I picked up that describes them well!)? I can’t see it getting easier any time soon!!