As parents, we generally want to give our kids everything we can. But how do we keep them from taking that for granted? How do we also show them that all these treats and luxuries need to be earned….by us and by them? And, those treats can be taken away.
Lately, my husband and I have been struggling with discipline at home. I mean we don’t want to spank and we don’t want to yell so much at them so then what do you do? We have done plenty of the time-outs and go to your room but the effectiveness keeps changing as they get older. So these days there has been a lot of ‘taking things away’. We warn them that ‘you will lose your iPods, or toys or activities if you don’t behave well’. However, this often ends up hurting us as well because we may have planned a movie outing for the family. Now if we must follow through with our threat on the punishment, then we all lose the movie and our day is ruined too. This leads to lots of whining and crying on their parts and more to deal with on our parts. Then, instead of a nice relaxed weekend outing for a fun movie, we have a house full of bored, annoyed, pouting people. It is punishment for us.
When we say ‘You’ve lost TV or video game privileges’, it is punishment for us as well. This impacts us most on long drives since there can no longer be the distraction of an iPod or DSi. Now we must deal with their bickering and boredom. ‘How much longer til we get there?’ ‘I have nothing to do’. It is no longer a peaceful long drive. Then we need to become the referee and the entertainers. ‘Let’s find the alphabet on the road signs’ or some other random game we played as kids when there weren’t iPods, etc.
I mean discipline really is hard work. It would be much easier to just let them have whatever they want whenever they want it. The expression of ‘This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you’ seemed like a ridiculous parental line when we were kids but it is no joke. Now, I totally see it. Now I can see why many generations of people thought hitting and yelling was okay. That was not enjoyable for a parent either (or at least I hope not) but it wasn’t as long-lasting grief for them. Though I understand that those are not mature, effective ways of disciplining your kids. I also realize that we can’t skip the punishments for bad behavior. After all we can’t have society of bratty, violent, or self-absorbed children running around because of lazy or exhausted parents. So, in the end the disciplining may hurt us more than them but we have to have to suck it up (and maybe suck up a glass of wine after that)!