Thursday, September 10, 2009

Family Matters: It Takes Discipline

Who are all these kids and why are they calling me mom?

I used to be this woman: young, formerly cute, with a bad attitude and a mean face. I started out with great theories on raising kids. Then one day I found a 25-pound bag of sugar spread evenly on the storage room floor. The kids and their friends were ice-skating in their socks over the slippery crystals.

Chalking it up to bad outside influences, I kept them isolated from naughty neighbor children. The next thing they designed was a swimming pool. They covered the shower drain with a towel and let the water overflow onto the bathroom floor. The plan was to fill up the bathroom and swim like fish in an aquarium. The resulting flood ruined the tile, and the carpet in the next room.

Experts on child-rearing have never bothered having children. If they did, they'd know nothing works. My theories toppled like blocks in a playroom.

When the corner of the boys bedroom started attracting flies, I investigated. Hmmm . . . what was the stinky, sticky liquid that had stiffened the carpet and eaten away the carpet pad . . . even the floor boards were dissolving . . . Could it be that animals lived in this room and had marked their spot with urine? These could NOT be my children! My children were obediently doing their extra reading at bedtime, not filling their toy box with bodily fluids!

Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your kids.

There were emotional issues, too. One kid had a conniption fit when the tub drain was released, convinced that he and all of his loved ones would be sucked down pipes and live in the sewer muck forever. He could hear the plug being released from any room in the house and broke into screams of terror. Another kid refused to take baths. He sat fully clothed on the bathroom floor and stirred the bathwater so it would sound like he was washing his sweat-stained arms.

Fears of wind, car washes, and vacuums ran rampant at our house. Two kids "rolled" their heads in a rhythmic effort to sooth themselves to sleep . . . for hours every night! I sat in darkened bedrooms to scare away bad dreams, and laid in darkened doorways to rescue sleepwalkers.

My bad dreams involved taking them out in public. Mom rearranged the furniture one year for Thanksgiving. She hauled the ping-pong table upstairs to the dining room, and set it with her lovely silver and china. The meal got underway, with instructions on where to sit and thanks to great-grandma for her homemade watermelon pickles. "Everybody fold your arms. It's time for the prayer."

I scanned the room for my cute little boys while my sister searched for hers. Suddenly the decorative metal room divider lurched towards the table. As we all looked up in horror we saw four little monkeys clutching the aluminum scroll-work as it fell from it's place between the ceiling and the half-wall. In the nick of time, our husbands caught it before our sons became the centerpiece. Turkey time.

I childproofed the house but they keep getting back in.

(All illustrations here are from the darling book Jillian Jiggs, by Phoebe Gilman.)

I'm not telling these stories to brag. I just want to establish my credentials as an honest-to-goodness mom. Thirty years of on-the-job training taught me that most naughty behavior is just a stage. Happily all seven kids grew out of all conduct unbecoming, and now it's entertaining to watch them deal with their own little rascals.

I remember how hard it was to be a mom—it was so constant! Every night I'd climb in bed, exhausted, and I'd wake up still exhausted, knowing the second my feet touched the floor it would start spinning like a merry-go-round. One of the homework assignments I read this week (they are all so good!) compared motherhood to the movie Groundhog Day: the same day over and over. Isn't that a perfect description? But now, with my Oma perspective, I see it differently. A few months ago I wrote a post called Wax Strong as a tribute to the never-ending task of raising kids. Caring parents are awesome.

But what do you do between "the baby just rolled over!" and "he's going away to college?" My dad used to say, "Just love 'em, and make them mind." So, how do you teach them to mind? What works? Time outs, grounding, incentives, threats, taking away privileges, little chats? What's fair? What if you're inconsistent? Is there a place for spanking? (If we were young parents now we'd be turned in for child abuse, I'm sure.)

As a parent or grandparent, you've been on the front lines and your experience, good and bad, is valuable. If you're not a parent, you were a kid. How did your parents handle tantrums, lying, bad grades, curfew, swearing, speeding tickets or whatever your vice happened to be?

Instead of a homework assignment today, I'd like to have a class discussion. Please leave a comment; come back a couple of times during the day and comment again. Don't be shy—we all want to hear from you!


Christie said...

The question I ask myself at the end of every day is, "Did they feel today that I love them?" Some days I am confident they go to bed and wonder, but most days I am pretty sure that they know.

You are such a good writer. I really love to read your blog. Today's post was fantastic. Well done, you.

~Kristina said...

When I reach my wits end, I start the list of things that I plan to take away if the behaviour/challenge/trouble doesn't stop. Then, I do the 1-2-3 count. If by 3 things aren't different, item #1 from the list is gone for the day. After the tears, we sit and talk about why things went the way they did and what can be done different next time so the same things don't happen again.

Tiffany said...

Oh goodness, I love this post! I could relate to so much (I come from a family of ten!). Anyway, my theories are still being tested and developed, but this is where I'm at right now:

1. Be warm.
2. Be firm.
3. Be consistent.

I also try to remember that my goal is to manage them, not control them. If I'm a good manager, they'll pick up on it and manage themselves. If I control, they won't know how to make choices for themselves.

Can't wait to come back to read the comments!

Heather Scott Partington said...

One thing that's come up as my kids have gotten older is our use of the word "bad" vs the word "naughty." (Related info: I'm 30, so is the husband. Kids are 4 and 6.) I hate the word naughty, something about it just creeps me out. My husband and I tend to use the phrase "you're acting bad" or "you're being bad" or "you're making bad choices" right now when my kids are less than perfect, and it sparked a discussion with some family members about whether or not that was a bad thing. (Pun intended!)

I think that for the previous generation, there must have been some movement not to make children feel like they were bad (i.e. worthless or not a good person) by avoiding using the word and using "naughty" instead. To us it's akin to "naughty" without the creepy connotations. I feel confident that my kiddos are smart enough to figure out that Mommy and Daddy think they're wonderful and special, but at that particular moment, they are being TOTAL PUNKS. My philosophy of discipline is pretty much that if you really love your kids and they know that and you really set clear expectations and follow through, they're going to be okay. To me it seems like a semantics issue rather than a "do you love your kids" issue.

What do you guys think? Is that a generational thing, as I suspect? Am I totally wrong and screwing up my kids? (My tongue is firmly implanted in my cheek, just FYI.)

How do you talk to your kids about when they're bad/naughty?

Heather Scott Partington said...

Ooh, I forgot something. Often I find that when they are bad/naughty, it's because I am not keeping them busy enough and they're bored. Kids are just curious.

Alana said...

haha, this was awesome! Before I had a child of my own, I was sure I had it all figured out. Oh how wrong I was. It really is messy and complicated and I'm much worse at it than I thought I would be. Parenting, that is.

The most amusing thing is perhaps hearing the comments from friends or family that don't have children yet. They will comment on my child or give me unsolicited advice. I just have to smile... they think they've got it all figured out.

All I can think is, "you just wait, you just wait."

Kiasa said...

I also use 1-2-3 a lot with my 3 yr old daughter. I make sure I'm very clear about what's going to happen when I reach "3". It works quiet well for her right now. I always have to make sure the consequence is one I am will and able to follow through with. Some days all I feel like I'm doing is threatening and counting to three!

Recently, with the arrival with baby #2 things got rough. My 3 yr old was hurting the baby on a regular basis. We tried everything! But when nothing worked, I chose to spank her. It was such a hard decision! But I was calm about it (I made sure I didn't do in anger). I've only had to spank her twice (but I remind often if she's getting rough). After I spanked her I held her, we both cried, and talked with her about how she can't hurt her baby brother.

Her relationship with her baby brother is much improved (not sure exactly why). Right now she is singing sweetly to him.

Meg said...

I worry and struggle with this one on a regular basis. I have two VERY independent children and a young baby. It seems like I'm trying new techniques on a regular basis.

But the thing that seems to work the best for me is to follow through. Whatever plan I put in place, whatever program, whatever threat or consequence I throw out there, I HAVE to follow through. Otherwise, we are going no where. Sometimes this is hard, and I have to be very careful what I say because I have to be willing to follow through with it. If I say "stop that or we're going home" I have to make sure we actually go home if she doesn't stop.

Meg said...

Oh, and Heather, I completely agree with your thoughts on generational differences.

My very dramatic daughters say all the time "you hurt my feelings" when I'm just following through with consequences. I think what they are really trying to say is "I don't like this and I'm feeling sad." Which they should! We really try to teach that bad choices make you sad and we want them to make good choices so they can be happy. Sometimes it's hard because I worry if I'm actually am damaging them emotionally, but it's true - as long as they know I love them they'll be fine. Working out their feelings and helping them understand what they're feeling is part of my job! Not fixing their feelings all the time.

dalene said...

here are a few thoughts:

every child is different, so sometimes what works for one won't work for another.

husband and wife have to be on the same side.

choose your battles

don't be afraid to say "i was wrong" and "i'm sorry" when you lose it

and i love christie's comment about making sure at the end of the day they know you love them. with teenagers it can be tricky. they get mad and they hold a grudge and sometimes it seems as though they are trying to repel your love. but a wise friend once reassured me that their spirits feel and accept your love even while their bodies seem to repel it. i believe that's true so i keep trying.

Hannah said...

I struggle with discipline. My husband is only home for about an hour a day except on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday he has bishopric. So...I often feel lonely and get a glimpse at what single mothering must be like. I am pregnant and have two young, crazy kids. I am the sole disciplinarian because I am the only one home. I wish I knew what I was doing! I usually do time outs on their bed. It gives them a little time to think about it, and me time to cool off before talking to them about what they have done "naughty." It works sometimes. :)

I find that when I am inconsistent, my kids' behavior is worse. Consistency is key for my kids.

I also talk about consequences to things before my kids do anything wrong and tell them that going to time out is their choice...not mine. They choose to be disobedient, so they choose the consequences of their actions. That seems to work well with my older child.

talesofahummingbird said...

i'm a mother of a wee one under one. he is wonderful. and he is already independent. he is already learning a teensy bit about being naughty (read-grins slyly at me when mommy says "no, we don't do that "). oh dear. strange, sometimes i already find myself losing my cool. while the minors are still issue and manageable and able to be chalked up to "he's too little to understand" I am working on developing my patience. amazing how quickly you can get frustrated when they are going their own way. i like what one of you said about MANAGING your kids, not CONTROLLING them. excellent lesson right there.

anyway, i'm terrified of what happens when a few more months go by and he really does know he is being naughty, starts testing his independence and my patience. like many of you, i feel like i don't know what i'm doing.

but i had amazing parents. they were very consistent. there were always consequences. in high school, i once had no shoes to wear to school because mom said if i didn't pick up my shoes she would take away 1 pair a day for 30 days each. that was a bummer. there were rules. she always asked questions. and she always found out when i thought i was getting away with something. she was tuned in. she was fair and firm. and i always knew she loved me. even when i was terrible to her, she was all of those things and more. she kept my world revolving and taught me to be a good person. and funny thing is, in a few months when my son is starting to explore his world and his options....i am pretty sure all those things my mom taught me will come flying back to me and i'll be doing them without a second thought. nurturing his independence, managing his behavior, teaching him about his world and the things that are and are not ok. because i had a good mom and a good dad and while they were teaching me all those lessons, they were showing me how to be a wonderful, fair, firm, patient parent.

The Grandmother Here said...

Wow! This post struck a nerve. Everyone has something to say about discipline. Personally my downfall was that I wasn't consistent. But the kids turned out okay any way.

KJ said...

I am a good mom and still a failure at parenting and I love my babies more with every breath and my toddler is king of the tantrums. No. really. he is. this is all I know.

KJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lisa said...

A lot has been said about discipline and I'm not really sure I've got it down but I thought I'd put my two cents worth in and share one of my more successful and creative consequences.

When my kids don't get along-I mean REALLY don't get along- I usually ground them to each other. They can go and do whatever...but they have to do it together. If one has practice, they both go. If one goes to the bathroom, the other one is waiting outside the door.

It's bumpy to start but it turns out alright in the end.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big believer in purposeful neglect. I neglect my children in some ways so that they learn to do things themselves-- making lunches, laundry (after age 12), walking to soccer practice, etc.

And blogging has been great for bonding with my older boys.

Miranda said...

I love Meg's comment about follow through. I totally agree.

I am the mother or an 18 month old. She is a wonderful child (through ABSOLUTELY NO fault of my own I am convinced). Right now in preparation for more "tantrumy" times or children I'm working on saying YES as often as I can. If she's doing something, and the only reason I don't want her to do it is because I don't feel like cleaning it up (she's not hurting herself or damaging things) then it's not a good enough reason to say no.

Seriously though...I always say that this child is doing nothing to help prepare me for parenthood. :)

Christina said...

I do agree that consistency is key- now if only it weren't so hard to be consistent! There are a few things that I try to remember in this realm. I'm trying to discipline, not punish. Discipline involves teaching, punishing is just making someone feel bad. Also, I think about a few key pieces of advice from the Doctrine and Covenants like keeping discipline between me and thee- no one likes to be embarrassed in front of other people, so we talk about big discipline issues privately. Also,
"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.” (D&C 121:41–44.)

I love the reminder that after the reproving comes an increase of love. We use time outs and taking away privileges, etc., but on my best days, love guides discipline and we can reason together.

crissy // mama boss said...

I have a 26-month-old son and an almost 11-month-old daughter. They are the lights of my life.
My kids are pretty well mannered for the most part, especially in public, where they get shy. Except at church. My son gets people-shy, but he tends to warm up to the people who wind up behind us, and will climb around on the pew, and sometimes try to escape by crawling underneath. My husband doesn't go to church with me, so I'm all on my own, holding my daughter with one arm, and trying to teach my son to sit still, keep his feet of the pew in front of us, be quiet, be reverent, all that stuff. I have high expectations when it comes to bbehavior at church, and most especially during sacrament meeting, I tend to be quietly firm, and surprisingly patient. And even on the days when I feel like my kids were too loud or obnoxious I get a comment from someone who says they admire me for doing it on my own, and that I handle them very well.
At home things can get very crazy. I've got a runner and a speed-crawler. They like to get into everything, which is especially frustrating right now, because we just moved and there are things which have not yet been put away. I hate the word "no" because I use it so much. I don't like the idea of hitting my kids, because of how sad it makes them. It makes me feel like a horrible person.
Example: the other night I was trying to get my son to clean up his books and toys, I was willing to help him, but he needed to get started first. I asked him to pick up his books and give them to me to put in the shelf. Instead he looked at me and stood on one of his books. I asked him, firmly, a couple more times. Nothing. So I started counting. When I would reach 3 I would give him a chonché (soft knuckle knock on the head--something my dad used on us, though I think he was more rough than I am.) When I did it he would giggle. I asked him to pick up his things again, waited a moment--nothing--and counted to three again. Each chonché was just a little bit harder, and I hoped he'd get the message. Instead he eventually began crying and was even more resistant. His dad took over, and the task became simply taking his cup of water and putting it away (and I cleaned up the books and toys.) As I heard my boy screaming in defiance my heart broke. I was worried we were traumatizing him. My husband tried for a solid 20 minutes to get our screaming son to put his cup on a shelf. My son screamed and cried and reached for me. All I wanted was to hold him. Eventually my husband handed him off to me, cup still not in its place. I hugged him and consoled him. When he was calm I took him back to his room, gave him his cup and asked him to put it away. He did it! I felt victorious that he'd done what I'd asked, but frustrated that it had required so much time, energy and tears.
To the seasoned parents--what would you have done in this situation? Did I handle it well? How might I have handled it better?

Sometimes my days are so frustrating and tiresome as I chase these kids. But I sure do love the little stinkers.

Marissa Marie said...

Ha ha, I don't have kids, but I will share a funny discipline method my cousin uses. Her six year old daughter is very independent and takes great joy in picking out her own outfits. Whenever she is naughty, my cousin takes away this privelege. Or threatens to... It gets her right back in line! Plus my cousin doesn't always love her daughter's outfit combinations...

Jordan and Jandee said...

I am a relatively new mother, and as my baby grows I find myself reflecting more and more on what my parents did, the things that worked and the things that did not. I don't have a lot of memories of being disciplined before I reached my teenage years (I'm sure I was, my Mom is quite firm, I just don't necessarily remember it), what I do remember is how good my mom was at making regular life an adventure. She had traditions for everything in between the holidays -- we had the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics, Swiss Family Robinson week where we lived in the backyard, we put on plays, and had our own rodeos, and had elaborate weddings for our dogs & cats (complete with homemade wedding cake), and scheduled neighborhood mud fights, and created elaborate treasure hunts with maps, etc. I guess growing up on a working farm also helped keep us occupied as there was a lot of daily work -- but in any event we were busy from the time we woke up until we went to bed......looking back I'm not quite sure where my mom got all that energy, also I realize more and more that she didn't get a lot of her own projects done when we were awake (good thing we were excellent nappers/sleepers), but I treasure all of my memories of just the regular days when my mom had something new and exciting up her sleeve. Bedtimes often had that thrill of Christmas Eve as we would talk about tomorrows big adventure and I would love to create some of the same memories for my children. Sometimes it is hard to remember its important to go on adventures rather than do the ironing.

Kiasa said...

This discussion is great! I agree with so many that consistency and follow through are so important. My daughter knows I'm serious because I've followed through in the past. But I'm learning (slowly) that I HAVE to pick my battles. She is so willful (just like me!) so many times I have to stop and think "is this worth following through on what I just threatened, or do I need to lighten up, or redirect". Many times I need to re-evaluate what's most important at the moment. Is the issue at hand important (i.e. she won't put her shoes on) or my daughter's feelings? I'm always hoping my pride is not what takes over...but it does at times.

I appreciate the D & C quote. I think of that scripture EVERY time I discipline, and make sure I give LOTS of love afterward.

Heather Scott Partington said...

@lisa--my friend (whose children are now college-age) did something similar when her kids would fight. She'd put them on time out together and make them hug until they were off time out. I still tease her about it. :)

I agree with everyone who has posted about consistency. Having toddlers/preschoolers has taught me that kids find such comfort in routine. Even in discipline, I think this is true.

@dalene Our kids are totally different. What worked for the firs has no effect on the second. I think it's important to take different approaches. I agree. I also agree about husband and wife being on the same page. The Huz and I decided a long time ago that we needed to do what worked for US and not worry about anyone else. We are 100% in agreement about how we raise them and it is a blessing. I also love what you said about teenagers. I'm a high school teacher, and I see the rebelling body on a regular basis.

Great conversation! Here's another question to keep things moving. What age has been the most challenging for you, discipline-wise, so far?

For me, it was when my son was between 2 and 3 and wasn't sleeping through the night--he was a monster during the day. While our daughter sailed through this time, he had a more difficult time with everything. I'm curious about parents with older children too.

Heffalump said...

I think it is important to realize that every kid is different, and that they don't all respond the same way to things.
Consistency is all good, but if things aren't working, then change needs to happen.
I have six kids. Two of them have Autism and a third one is being evaluated for it. Something I have come to realize is that even though it is easy to not pay attention and to ignore them when they are being good, they really need to hear praise for when they are being good. One of my sons is pretty aggressive and for a long time the main attention he got was when he was in trouble for being aggressive. We finally figured out that if we reacted less (not ignoring it though) when he was acting out, and praised him and responded when he was being nice, then he did better. We are still working on it of course.
I guess the best advice is to parent with love, and don't judge other parents for using methods that are different from yours. You don't know their kids or them, and they are just doing the best they know how to do.

Beck said...

One of my very good friends taught me an important way to communicate with her toddler: She always told him "Look at Mommy's eyes, please." I am always surprised at how well this works when I combine it with a very quiet voice and explain the consequences of my 2 year old daughter's bad behavior. She also knows that there are "good" consequences, and I try to make sure I praise her for her good choices. I know I still have tons to learn, and I agree that sometimes my loss of temper has just boiled down to being tired and letting my pride take over when my sensibility is GONE.

polly said...

getting to know each child is a good idea, because each child is so different. what works for one, might not work for another. also giving myself a break helped as a young mother. I feel that by being with my kids everyday, trying, loving them, giving of myself and then saying I did the best I could would help. Hopefully, now that they are older they will give me that same break.

crissy // mama boss said...

I have used the "look in mommys eyes" stuff with my 2-year-old as well. I use it when he is really upset and crying about something. I get his attention, get on his level, have him look at me and I explain whatever I need him to understand. Generally we do this when he is having a hard time with his bedtime routine. (Diaper and jammies, stories, brush teeth, pray, night-time song, bed and his beloved pacifier.) It usually works, and we get through the rest with minimal difficulty.

Cannwin said...

I have 4 munchkins. 7,6,2 1/2 and 7 weeks. Life in our house is wild. One friend of mine said she'd love to spend the night in my house as a fly on the wall.

I've learned alot about living from my kids and have grown up with them.

I like to say my 6 year old came out screaming and hasn't stopped yet. Since this is a constant issue (which translates to behavioral issues at school) we have really learned some interesting techniques for discipline.

We've also learned that love, joy and satisfaction in what we are doing are the best things you can do for yourself and for them.

Someone told me that your children should get 100 kisses a day. I've tried to keep this in mind in life.

I try to allow my love to show. I make cookies when they come home, I wait at the door for them at the end of the day. I sing them lullabies and I try to put some spunk into story time.

But I also do a lot of screaming, alot of hollaring and alot of wishing I was a better mother.

Going back to my 6 year old, the biggest lesson I've ever learned is that when they are screaming and you feel there is no end in sight you need to walk out of the room and remind yourself that things do get better...and they do go to school at five years old.

mama jo said...

that was soooo is fun to watch your kids be a kid i remember alot of lectures from dad....spankings and groundings from mom...must have worked...look how wonderful i am!

Allison said...

I think I'm one of the very few without kids in this discussion. But in just the last year I've gone from "absolutely no kids ever" to "one day..." so I've given it lots of thought. Still have absolutely no idea what kind of parent I'll be or when that will happen, except that I want to be the kind of mom who truly has fun with her kids as much as possible.

Heather Scott Partington said...

@beck I do the "Mommy's eyes" thing too. In fact, I do it so much that my husband says it to me as a joke when I can't get him to pay attention. It works!

brandy said...

The comments so far have been great! I especially loved Christie's comment about making sure they feel loved everyday.

Some days are so hard for me. My husband is rarely home because he is in law school. I feel like when it comes to discipline it is all me and it can be so draining.

Everyday I feel like I am gaining some sort of control with my girls. Consistency has been the key to calming the ciaos.

Recently I started giving them buttons to put into a pretty baby jar we decorated together. For everytime they do a chore without a fit or doing something nice they get a button to put in the jar. Everytime they do something bad I threaten to take a button out of the jar. (This usually puts out any fires). Then on Sat. I give them a penny for each button. I'm not a huge fan of rewarding for EVERY SINGLE act of good behavior but for right now it's working for us.

audrey said...

First of all, Heather, I don't like the word "naughty" either. I don't know what it is, but I really don't like it.

Second of all, one thing I try to do is when my crazy children (4, 2 1/2, and my angel 5 month old) are even crazier than usual, I have started trying to figure out what may be the cause and try to remedy that instead of getting so frustrated. For instance, we are in the middle of a move right now and are currently living at my parents' house since we haven't found a place to live yet. When they act out, I try to remember how anxious they must feel with everything up in the air and I try to do what I can to make things calmer and more consistent - it usually helps their behavior and at the least it helps me to be more patient with them. This can be hard since I am usually more stressed at the same time they are stressed, but I've found that looking at the situation like that, instead of just getting mad, helps tremendously.

talesofahummingbird said...

brandy-love your idea of the pretty button jar for good behavior. friends did a similar plan to encourage good behavior (and eliminate the "I want this" train) on vacation - they got each of their boys a roll of quarters as they got into the car. Any time they were behaved badly during the trip, a quarter was taken away. The remaining quarters were allowed to be spent on whatever they wanted the last day of the trip.

you all sound like fantastic parents - the undertone here is "man i love my kids" and "man i wish i were a better mom"....and those two things combined make you the best kind of mom. :)

don't forget to play with your kids. laugh. have fun. help them build forts. from the beginning i am learning the lesson of leave it on the list and get to it when there is time. be in the moment with your children as much as possible (and without stifling their independence). these are the memories you'll have when they're grown - not that your house was sparkling clean on a friday afternoon. :)

kenju said...

An excellent post, as usual, and one that brought back a few memories of my youth. I don't have time to read all the comments, but I'll come back after dinner for that.

Diane said...

I'm a young grandma (5 grands, 4 and under). I have four children, currently all in their twenties.

We had a couple of philosophies as parents: treat each child individually, and do our best to be consistent (keeping the individuality in mind.)

We had three rules in our home (my husband grew up in a household with lots of "rules" and he hated it - we condensed ours to three "catch-all" rules).
1. No lying (this was the one rule that was punishable by spanking).
2. Obey your parents.
3. Stupidity is not an excuse (no saying "but I didn't know that". We told our kids they were smart enough they should have figured that out on their own.

Did it work? Mostly. I guess our kids would be the best judge of that. Also, we were given great kids. Bottom line, they know we love them, and they love us.

By the way, Audrey (a few comments up from me) is my oldest daughter. She is a fantastic, consistent, loving mother. I want to grow up to be like her.

Travelin'Oma said...

Thanks for these exceptional insights!

Misty said...

Oma, I loved this post. I too, was such a good mom before I had kids! I love how you can look back on these experiences with gives me hope!

I have twin 2-year-old boys and a month-old baby girl. Life is crazy at our house. My boys are rowdy, loud, always on the go...typical two year olds. They like testing their limits, testing each other's tolerance level, testing their dad's and my patience. We've tried the 1-2-3 thing. They are so excited that they know how to count that when we say 1-2...they chime in with an enthusiastic 3!!... accompanied by a prideful smile. Hmmm, makes it hard to stay upset and follow through with the consequence.

The twins ARE different -- one learns by being on time out (sitting on our laps and not being able to leave)and the other learns by just having us sharpen the tone in our voices. We do swat (spank) them if option 1 doesn't work, but it makes me feel like a hypocrite (ie saying "we don't hit." while swatting his behind. Not very effective.)

I'm very far from perfect and get frazzled and lose my cool a lot, but thankfully kids are forgiving and as soon as we've all had a chance to catch our breath, I'm getting hugs, kisses, or an "I luva yu, mom." That makes me remember that the frustrating times are outnumbered by the happy times.

And it helps that bedtime is usually in view.

I'm loving all of these comments and will be checking back soon! Thanks, ladies!

diane said...

My kids are better than me. Maybe that's the key, just be a little worse than your kids.

I had a big aha moment this summer about parenting. Sometimes since I am down to one kid, I put her under a magnifying glass. All of her issues and behavior take on mammoth proportions. We had a family with 6 kids come visit and she loved it. I found myself taking a deep breath and realizing that I may be the one turning these emotional things into something worse than they really are.

I also try to say yes as often as I can so that when I say no it is important.

I have kicked my kids "out of the garden of Eden." I take away whatever is their currency at the moment. Right now it is cell phone and car keys. I just realized I haven't had to do this in a long time.

~Kristina said...

Once I was finally able to break past just threatening and started following through, things got more serious. My son now knows when i mean business. I'm still working on the consistency thing.
Heffalump makes a great point about each kid being different.
Awesome convo!

QueenScarlett said...

My parenting is doing a lot of the opposite of what I had growing up.

Admit when you're wrong.
Remember - they're just kids.
Value them more than things.
Let them love you, not fear you.
Have fun.

I've learned that as a parent - I'm really the student. My kids teach me. That keeps things in perspective ...most of the time. It's so easy as parents to act all God-like... which we so ARE NOT! I guess remembering I'm the student too...makes it easier to apologize when I'm wrong and be more empathic to the challenges they are dealing with.

Mrs. O said...

I'm always trying out new ideas for jobs, chores and for the rest I try to say yes more than I say no (which is hard for me) and follow through.

So far, I think teenagers are the hardest stage.

audrey said...

Oh, one other thing to add:

Teach your children to be independent and make choices themselves. I am pretty sure it has been mentioned already, but this is really valuable and sometimes hard to do. My parents did this with us (see my mom, Diane L, above) and it made all the difference for me. Sometimes it is hard to implement with my young kids, but I try hard to let them do things on their own and make their own decisions, even when it isn't always convenient.

sarah said...

I've LOVED reading this throughout the day! And now, since wee ones are in bed, I can finally take the time for 'me'! So here I am! And I need to preface by saying I'm not perfect but these things have worked for me...

Unconditional Love. I think that is pretty much the key. I grew up as the oldest and was the guinea pig for my parents. It was a little rough, and I still have a sore spot when it comes to their 'parenting methods', but I learned what NOT to do. And I want my kids to learn from my mistakes too! But this is what I learned growing up:

The magic words of Please and Thank You really are magical. Just because you are the parent and are 'in charge' doesn't mean you are exempt from saying these words. Dalene also mentioned saying "I was wrong" and "I'm Sorry". Sometimes it is SOOO hard for me to put away my pride and do this. But I know how important it is [cuz I never heard it growing up], so I just bite the tongue and do it.

I Love You is a magical word too. It needs to be said over and over and over in the home, so that when discipline is needed [hourly in our home], they will be able to recover from the 'trauma'.

Keep an open line of communication. Almost every night I sit with my kids and ask them how their day was. Each one of them get special 'mommy time' and I think it shows that I really do care about them and what they are doing.

I also think being an example is HUGE. If you want your kids to say sorry- YOU have to say it. If you want them to show respect to others, you must do it as well. My parents were very big on TELLING us what to do and TELLING us how to live and TELLING us what to say. Actions speak louder than words. If you want your kids to speak kind of others, then you better watch your tongue around them! Kids pick up on the CRAZIEST things! My 3 year old was playing with her toys when something broke and she yelled out "Stupid Thing!". Yeah, I say that when things aren't working. Whoops.

So basically, "show" your kids how to be good, be consistent [which was a HUGE topic here- and on Super Nanny], and always, always, always tell them you love them!

At least, that's how I wish I was raised...

[enough sob story- I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for my parents- I do love them. But my siblings are kinda falling by the wayside.]

Oh, and one more thing I've learned as a mommy. Sometimes it's not worth fighting over. If your child wants to run in the 6 in. deep puddles with shoes on, is it really that bad to let them? Or make a compromise- take off the shoes and then let them. If they want to wear their brother's neon green Hawaiian swim trunks under their pink sun dress to Walmart- is it really that big of a deal? Or when they want to mix all of the colors of play doh together- it's their play doh anyway! Sometimes things aren't worth the screams and tantrums. Just because I'm the mommy doesn't mean I can get off on an ego trip and make it my way or the highway!

Okay, I think I'm done- but if anything else pops into my head, I'll post it!

~j. said...

This morning, when I first read this post, my kids were behind me, watching a t.v. show, where some people were singing a kind of annoying song, but the words were appropriate for the moment:

You know exactly what to say and do,
It's the Mother in you...

Even when things are crazy-hectic, we know what's best for our own. We should trust ourselves more, rather than consulting books, articles, etc..

FriðrikssonS (and Parents) said...

I think discipline is very individual. Each child is different - each situation is different - each motivation for behaviour is different.

In disciplining I try to be open to the moment, the child, inspiration, and the spirit. No matter the consequence I try and show an increase of love for the child after the consequence.
I try to help each boy realize it is the action and not them that is "bad" and that we are trying to help them learn and grow. We try and have them repair the mistake - which gives them a chance to learn. Granted this works better for our older son. But it does have an impact on our 22 mos. old. Even our little one knows that an action on his part is required when he is in trouble (usually when he misbehaves it is a "sorry" and hug and kiss).

Sassy said...

Everything here has been great. Here is my 2 cents!!

I try not to discipline. When I do, I always get carried away. So, instead, I try to reward positive behavior. My kids are big on games, so we play a board game. (One I made on a big poster board and hang on the wall.) They each have little pieces and at the end of the day, we evaluate together how they did that day. Then, we decide together how many spaces they get to move in the game. There are prizes along the way of things that they can do. Ice cream with dad, lunch with mom, extra 15 minutes of Wii. You get the idea. Then, when one of them gets to the end of the board, the get to choose a bigger activity to do. Going to the movie or dinner with mom or dad, or night at Chucky Cheese. Things like that. For the most part, when they are bad during the day, we move their piece backwards. I still have occasional problems where I need to discipline, but it is getting less frequent.

This system took me a long time to come up with, but I have seen a big difference with my kids. It really hit when 1 of the boys got to go to a movie with dad and the other 2 had to stay home. Of course, we really played it up. Still they had to sit home and read books or play with toys. They were so jealous when their brother came home talking about the movie! It worked for me!!

jen said...

What? I'm not alone?! This is wonderful news to me! Just today I seriously told my sister that I feel like I am the only mom that can't keep up! I have four young boys that LOVE to make many messes/ creations. I found great comfort in these comments. Reading this post was just what I needed tonight. I'm off to snuggle up my little messers!

Audra said...

Thank you so much for this post! I only have 2 little munchkins, but I feel frazzled all the time. I'm really hard on myself too because my mom has 8 kids & seems to have it altogether. :)

I have to say the best thing I started doing was 1 hour of "quiet time" after lunch. My baby sleeps during that time, but my 3 year old won't always nap. She does know that she must be quiet & stay in her designated quiet time spot. She can look at books or occasionally watch a movie, but she can not get up to bug brother or mom. That hour is Heaven on Earth & gives me the sanity I need to deal with or avoid any situations the rest of the day. It also gives my 3 year old some down time to unwind & not overstimulate her. :)

Audra said...

Oh I forgot to say that 1-2-3 has worked great for us too!! I just have to follow through if needed.

Joyfulmom8 said...

My dear daughter is right! I need to start following your blog. :) I am a grandma of 3, Mother of 8, my youngest is 1. I am a different mother now than I was 20 years ago. Much more relaxed about the things that are important enough to discipline. I SAY "I Love You" out loud much more than with my oldest kids. I hope they all knew I loved them no matter what. They seem to have done well despite me. It is a wonderful blessing to see your children grow into terrific men and women. Pay Day.

marta said...

oh wow. i have got a lot of catch up to do. such good material here. i will be printing this out for my mothering binder. thanks, oma! these classes are enriching so many of us. i appreciate you putting it on the page.

La Yen said...

So many great ideas. For me, it is always important to remember that God knows my kid. And He has a plan for her. And I need to remember that it is important to Him that I raise her well. So when she is driving me nuts, I just have to remember to ask Him for guidance.

J, K, L, and D said...

I've loved reading these comments as I am childless & contemplating having children. We've already talked about what we want for our children, but admittedly, neither of us are great disciplinarians (I left teaching, in fact, partly because I hated giving out detentions & fighting with kids all the time), so we've been avoiding the talks about how to discipline our kids. We do agree on the consistency & love's just that I need more ideas.

Parenthood, especially in the beginning, seems like such a crapshoot anyway! You do your best to read books, keep your ideas firm & in place, be a good example...and then a little personality has other ideas. It's been interesting watching my sister & other friends as they raise their families & struggle to learn what works.

Thanks for all of the comments & the hilarious post!

Rochi said...

My Life is dull without kids
I’m not a mother but I have a nephew who is four in July and a niece who turned one in January. I can tell you its no simple task. My nephew is an energizer bunny he doesn’t stop, and when he’s quiet be very concern because he’s not being an angel when he’s quiet. You better find him because he’s off somewhere giving an enormous amount of trouble. He always wants his way and when he doesn’t get it that’s when you better look out you’d think this three year old is from hell. He throws everything he can in the air and when that doesn’t work he cries out loud disturbing everyone.
My niece, as young as she is she’s the cunning one. The only thing she wants to see is that she’s not getting your full attention and she disappears. When her mom gives her a bath, the entire neighborhood can hear her crying She would make anyone believe she’s being murdered because she don’t want to bathe or to have her hair combed.
I have no kids and these kids are making me swerve my mind from time to time saying I’m happy I have no kids, but besides all this I love them and my life would be extremely dull without them. They always make it up to you without even knowing at times offering you something from what they’re eating, or rolling over on the bed and putting your arms over them so they can feel secure. These things make you feel superb.

Rochi said...

My Life is dull without kids!
I’m not a mother but I have a nephew who is four in July and a niece who turned one in January. I can tell you its no simple task. My nephew is an energizer bunny he doesn’t stop, and when he’s quiet be very concern because he’s not being an angel when he’s quiet. You better find him because he’s off somewhere giving an enormous amount of trouble. He always wants his way and when he doesn’t get it that’s when you better look out you’d think this three year old is from hell. He throws everything he can in the air and when that doesn’t work he cries out loud disturbing everyone.
My niece, as young as she is she’s the cunning one. The only thing she wants to see is that she’s not getting your full attention and she disappears. When her mom gives her a bath, the entire neighborhood can hear her crying She would make anyone believe she’s being murdered because she don’t want to bathe or to have her hair combed.
I have no kids and these kids are making me swerve my mind from time to time saying I’m happy I have no kids, but besides all this I love them and my life would be extremely dull without them. They always make it up to you without even knowing at times offering you something from what they’re eating, or rolling over on the bed and putting your arms over them so they can feel secure. These things make you feel superb.