One of my least favorite things to do as a parent is to discipline my kids. I want us to get along all the time. I don’t want any screaming in my house, no crying, no talking back. I just want them to do what we ask them to do and have peace every day.
Since I have little girls who are extremely strong-willed and have fiery personalities, good behavior is not going to happen every day. As much as we challenge them to be great kids, my kids challenge me every day to be a great mommy.
Disciplining in our house started out as simple timeouts when my kids were young. Go to your room and take a break, we said. A couple of minutes later, when the kids are quiet, they can come down and we start fresh. Everyone wearing a smile.
As I get older, my patience and tolerance for tantrums and talking back is wearing thin. I go to drastic measures to discipline and after I punish my kids, I walk away laughing at myself because what I’ve just done doesn’t make sense.
It’s hard to take stuff away from my girls because they have so much “stuff” in their rooms – stuffed animals, toys, books. You name it. You take away a handful of stuff and it’s no big deal, because there’s more in there for them to play with.
The longer they go misbehaving, the more trips I make from their room to my room with a handful of their “stuff.” By the time they finally get settled down, I walk into my room and I have “stuff” all over my room. I’ve got a nice collection of stuffed animals, toys and books.
Then I get so desperate that I start taking away items they need every day – their backpacks for school, their shoes, their jackets. Heck, I’ve even taken away their blankets (don’t worry, they have plenty to keep them warm at night).
Of course, they get the essentials back the next day, but not Teddy. He stays in my room.
Last weekend, my 4-year-old cut her hair with her sister’s scissors. I again went to extremes and took away scissors from both girls (they aren’t allowed to use them now unless they are being supervised). My youngest daughter was obviously ashamed at being caught. She knew she messed up. I didn’t have to say too much. My extreme disciplinary action that night? She’s not allowed to play upstairs without supervision – ever. Yes, I told her ever.
This move hurts me more than it hurts her. My kids are independent and need their alone time . . . and so do their parents. But I need to be able to trust my kids. They need to know and understand that there are consequences to their actions. I can’t have them cutting hair – no matter whose hair it is – and whatever else they think needs to be cut around the house.
As much as I hate disciplining my kids, it has to be done. No matter how ridiculous and extreme it may seem at the time.
Angela Borchert is a freelance writer who lives in Vacaville. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.