Monday, September 6, 2010


Do you ever just throw your hands up in the air and say "I give up!"? I did that yesterday at church after my youngest was brought to me twice, the second time for running out of the building away from the sweet pregnant lady that was in-charge of him. And this is supposedly my mild child! As she ran after him she said he was laughing and smiling and thought it was a game. Never mind that our church is on a very busy street or that this woman was in no condition to chase after him. All I could do was look at her as she was apologizing and say "It's ok, this is nothing new. I'm sorry."

So I have two dilemma's here. Both have nothing to do with having a special needs child, except that maybe I am confronted with these situations on a more regular basis than other mothers. First, how do you stay motivated to discipline your child when you feel like you are really punishing yourself?

I have been given so much advice, as I am sure most mothers are, on the "how tos" and "what withs" of discipline. But rarely have I been given advice on how to survive said "how tos" and "what withs". "Take away his favorite toy", "Take away the Tv, video games, bicycle, ......", "Put him in time out, on his bed, in his room.....". Unfortunately all I hear is "Take away something that will keep him occupied", "Take away your peaceful productive time", "Stand behind him in time out, by his bed, outside of his room". Now I admit no one ever said disciplining is easy, but what if your child doesn't learn after three or four times. What if this becomes your whole day, week, life? I am sounding mellow dramatic I admit. But after yesterday and realizing that I am spending most of my life saying "Don't, Stop, Come back here, Don't smile at me when I am punishing you, Go to your Room, Put your nose on the wall,......", I can't help but think I must either, A. be doing something wrong, or B. I just haven't got something right. Advice is always welcome! (This doesn't even delve into all of the reward systems that we have set up and then watched fail miserably!)

My second Dilemma has to do with my youngest child. How do you discipline a child who thinks it's all a game? Micah is so incredibly different than Isaac which, from what I can tell is exactly how it is supposed to be. Who knew two kids with the exact same diagnosis, same parents, and same fondness for trains, could be so different to discipline. I remember my father talking about how it was night and day disciplining my sister and me. I thought "well of course, I was obviously better!"  The easy answer to that is no, I just had easier motivators/reinforcements than my sister did.

Micah is a breed of his own. Trying to figure out what is going to motivate him enough each day is like solving the Sunday paper's crossword puzzle. Half the time he laughs at me when I try to sternly reprimand him. Which leads me to get more angry (who wants to be laughed at while you are trying to impart right and wrong?) It all devolves to one big crying, spanking mess very quickly. Can you figure out which one of us cries first?

I think this is a common mom thing. You don't have to have any specific type of child to feel the pressures of teaching your child right from wrong. But when you spend most of the day trying not to throw a bigger tantrum than your child, disciplining with love and logic seems like something that might be possible on Mars. So, great and wonderfully wise mothers out there..... How do you do it? What are your tricks? What keeps you sane and can you sell it to me?


Alana Hawker said...

As a mom of younger kids without the same challenges as your own, I can only offer what has worked for us (when I actually have the patience to follow through, of course). Spanking is by far the worst thing for us. It reinforces violence and what happens the next time he gets mad? He hits me, his sister, the cat, whoever's closest to him. The only thing that has worked for us is putting him on time out away from everything, someplace where he can't get out. For us, that's the crib, with the door shut, and him unable to escape. It gives me breathing time, it gives him time to jump and scream his frustrations out. Maybe you could try locking him in his room for 5 mins with a mini-trampoline? We do 1 min for every year old he is. The hardest part for me is following through EVERY. TIME. If you threaten punishment, DO IT. Don't give in because he follows your direction AFTER you count to 3. Because then you'll be counting to 3 twice, then three times, etc before he actually does it. I find if I follow through, talk to him constantly about my expectations of him for the next 10-20 mins of time (we're going to get shoes on, we're going to sit reverently and pray, we're going to be quiet while daddy is on the phone) he's pretty good.

If you find a way to actually do everything you know you should be doing instead of giving in for 5 mins of peace, or losing your temper and spanking, let me know. That's the part I can't grasp :(

Anywho, there's my novel from someone with a lesser grasp on parenthood than you have, so take it with an enormous, gigantic grain of salt. <3

LeMira said...

How do I survive? Chocolate, food, milkshakes. . . um, yeah, . . .

Wish I had more helpful answers.

JosephJ said...

We have the same debate around our house. I sometimes envision taking everything away and our child sitting in a room devoid of toys. In such a case, he would be sad and angry, and then he'd probably pee on the floor to retaliate. So after I envision this, I realize that trying to "up the ante" by taking things away can be useless, just for the reasons you mentioned. We punish ourselves, because then we have a mopey kid for the duration that his toys are in toy timeout. Jen taught me last Saturday how to not engage Ian when he's in trouble. I'm still not very good at it. Maybe next time he gets in trouble, I should just put myself in timeout and go lock myself in my room for 10 minutes while things calm down.

Shanny said...

We read 1-2-3 Magic (because it was free from our insurance company), and that has been really helpful. Basically it's a count to 3 and then give them a time out method. But the thing I like about it is, you as the parent don't get emotional about it at all. You just give them until the count of 3, and then give them a time out (we send Julia to her room). And then you don't have a big lecture afterward, either. It sounds like it won't work, but it actually does. And it makes me feel like a better parent because I'm not throwing a tantrum right alongside my kid (usually). I'm obviously not perfect, nor am I an expert, and it might not be the best option for your kids, but it's been good for us. Good luck!

Chandler Family said...

K so we all know I'm horribly inconsistent and I'm not going to comment on discipline per say....I have found something that helps when James has one of his meltdowns. Your boys inspired me, we have a "hug it out" I take James away from everyone in a quiet room and tell him to squeeze me as hard as he can (in a hugging manner ). I warn him that if he doesn't hug it out I am going hug him. Then I squeeze him and rub his back and deep tissue "squeeze" and I don't stop until he squeezes me back getting some of that angry energy out. It usually ends great because we are hugging and I am reinforcing that he is loved and ok.

Post-it Note said...

Well . . . I met this lady at the grocery store last week who said, "Whatever people tell you, it doesn't get easier." When she said that, I realized that technically I was buckling two screaming kids into my van. My Mom said that when people gave her advice on how to discipline me (I'm the child my mom can only get even with by me having demon children of my own) my mom had to just figure out what worked because the textbook didn't. I was really struggling with time-outs not working for my son and my mom said maybe he's like you and you have to find what only works for him. That can be really discouraging if no one really has the right answer, and encouraging because it's possible for you to believe in yourself that as the mother you can call down the powers of heaven, H-E-double hockey sticks, or persuasion and you can get answers because you're the MOM.

That said (that I don't have answers) I think what you do is:
Be consistent with what works, and you won't know what works until you're consistent with it, and have a routine so that hopefully you both get a needed break when movie time, storytime, park time or whatever is peaceful productive time rolls around, and it's time to move on to the next part of the routine. Oh, and have kids clean baseboards for punishment. It's a good one.

You are doing better than you think! And you can do better than you are... that's what I learned at church last week. :D

Love, Paige

Katie said...

Have you ever watched the Scream Free Parenting Videos? See if your local library has them OR sometimes family resource centers will have them.

They are such an amazing seminar on video (or audio if that works better for you).

A quote from the seminar that I have to remind myself was along the lines of, "when we get upset with our children and yell and threaten we are basically telling our child. I am out of control but I'm expecting you to be in control."

That concept alone really has made me think and act differently when my children do something to upset me.

Anyways, its an amazing series.