Thursday, October 7, 2010

Discipline Rules

I've been asked to talk about my method of discipline. Let me use a title of a book to express my view, There Are No Bad Horses, Just Bad (alright now I can't find the book to end then title). But what it means is it is the owner that has the problem. Every moment with a child is a teaching moment. One in which your example speaks louder than words.
I've found over the years it was me that needed to change in order to bring about the change in my grand children and children. Oh that doesn't mean they make the correct choices all the time. Or my behavior is all exemplary. Evident because I'm constantly changing myself. But, the greatest change in our grand children has come about by making the most changes in me. In that manner our grand children are mending. How far we are willing to work on ourselves is a measure of the love we have for them. Right now we have some pretty normal grand kids with most of their issues related to the stages of growth. Our five year old is a bit rebellious showing a need for Independence. I'm presently working on ways she can constructively express more control over her world. After all she is now is school where everyone tells her what to do. And different people have different expectations making it pretty overwhelming for a powerless five year old.
Let me give you a little insight on what we have been working on the past five months. Example, one grand child wrote with her feces; marked the walls, furniture, herself, and everything else with pens or pencils as a release to frustration; wet her pants and bed; changed clothes up to ten times in one hour; didn't sleep through the night; had near hysterical fits all day long; deep depression; and very low self-esteem.
The answer to the writing all over things was to give her creative release in a controlled atmosphere. Express to her how disappointed I was in her behavior and that she only needed to ask and she could have art supplies to draw on. We initiated art time each day. I painted very soon after she drew on the walls to show and not only say how I disliked her choice of canvas. We taped her artwork all over her walls in her bedroom and even framed some of it for her walls. The refrigerator was covered with it. But, what helped most of all was the out pouring of love, praise, and showing and telling her what a gem she was until she believed it herself.
The latest thing we've worked on is her inability to sit at the table without making faces, disturbing her siblings, and simply staying seated. This was solved by my making every ones plate ready before sitting the children down and Kirk or I had to sat at the table also. In other words, all meals were sit down meals. Thus we were able to engage her in conversation and gently remind her to sit down. Now she has graduated to being able to sit at the table and eat by herself. At story time she moves her mat numerous times during the thirty minute period. She has learned that where she can move it back and forth between a few places and not disturb the other children. Thus she participates but works constructively through her needs also.
This constant movement extended to the kitchen table. We started with first requiring the kids to ask to be excused from the table as they came and went at will. Then we reminded them to please clear their place. This made it a conscientious decision to be done eating. Previously, they ate and left the table and came back and ate some more. If you cleared their place they would grumbly retort, "I wasn't done yet."Since they have made the decision and acted upon it, they've yet to say," Hey, I wasn't done yet."
Filling needs dispels misbehavior.
The melt downs as we called them were slowly changed by helping her to express through words her frustration. Then breaking down the problem into things she could do to fix the problem and things she could ask someone else to help with to solve it. In other words, we empowered her. She was no longer helpless.
Children needs guidance, not loud words.
The root of discipline is disciple. In other words has the disciplinarian chosen consequences teaching more than Mom or Dad aren't happy with the choices made and they are going to make you regret making them. Does sitting on a chair or going to their room teach this? Probably not, except when the child is just too wound up to be able to make a wise decision and a calming period is needed to restore a calming balance. We have one grand child that needs these time outs. It also means that the noise level in our home must be kept lowered. The television time is minimal, and it's volume down low.
This same child has mandatory naps every other day and she takes them willingly. In fact, she will put herself to bed most of the time at around 1:00 p.m. We have worked with her to help her see the connection between her poor behavior and just being tired. She doesn't like being in trouble any more than we like being negative with her.
Misbehavior has natural consequences.
If a child goes out into the street, they aren't allowed out in an unfenced yard or out at all for a period of time. Mean to their siblings, then they have to do nice things for them to practice correct behavior. We used the Parent Trap trick. You know the one where the girls meanest to each other had to spend more time together. If our kids couldn't get along with each other they couldn't play with friends. We said they just needed more practice and found things they had to do to learn cooperation.
You need to be consistent. Children need to know you are as good as your word.
I had my nephew tell me once when I said - if he was my child and he couldn't manage to get himself to school and stay there by himself, he obviously needed my help and I'd be willing to go with him and stay also. He said he'd never of missed school again. He knew I meant what I said. It was a natural consequence and an embarrassing one to boot.
All children need to know you aren't a liar. Don't say something to manipulate a child to get them to do it. Don't make a threat you wouldn't go through with. Liars have to be tested and a child will test you frequently to make sure your telling the truth. Don't lie and they will take you at your word.
Most misbehaviors disappear when structure is formed
Our morning routine needs a little work but the evening schedule works really well. Not that that means the kids have exemplary behavior every night but most of the problems have been solved by my figuring out their needs.
After school they have entertainment time. Some nights it's a t.v. show as on Wednesday when we've gone to the library after school and picked up books and two new movies. Some nights they play in the backyard, at the nearby playground, ride their bikes at the church parking lot since it's empty and I don't have to worry about cars or their whining because their having trouble making it up our slanted street, or another physical activity. Supper is at 5:30 to 6:00 (as soon as I can get it done). While I do dishes, the oldest does homework. Oh I've tried right after school but she doesn't like going to school anyway and one more minute on the subject means a battle of wills. A break and supper puts her in a much more receptive mood. Then they pick up toys before they become too tired and don't want to. I mean really don't want to and a battle ensues with whines, "But I'm too tired." Then the girls pick out their clothes for the next day and put them on the dresser. Get their pajamas and put their dirty clothes in the hamper. If it is bath night, the oldest gets the front of the tub on Monday, the middle child on Wednesday, and the youngest on Friday. The weekend I often don't have them so it's play it by ear if they are here. That solves that argument. We examine the fingernails and toes to see who needs them clipped. We pick up the bathtub toys just before they exit from the tub and they put them in the basket. I pick up the towels and hang them up while they dress and we comb hair, and brush teeth.
This is all done theatrically of course. Sometimes they sit upon the throne, or the toilet, but that is a boring word, and they are the queen having their hair done, their nails clipped, and their bodies lotioned down. Sometimes we pretend that we are brushing rabbit teeth and then hop off to bed.
Oh yes, and the rat family is sometimes in attendance. If a rat or two is in attendance in their hair then no game but if lots then the kids name the family and then every rat in their hair is named. We speak to the rat and send them on their way. It's a Mary Poppins thing. Making the unpleasant more tolerable. A spoon full of sugar makes helps the medicine go down theory.
Our oldest daughter when she was in college did this with me when we were unloading hay one year. We were both tired and sore. The game was who could make up the most reasons for why the neighbor was hauling only one round bale of hay.
It was a birthday present.
The loader broke down when they were loading the trailer.
It was all they could afford.
Our minds occupied, the task became less miserable and we laughed and laughed at what we'd come up. Most answers probably weren't really funny but you know how it is when you are bone tired.
So if you hear in the early morning us singing or the sounds of silliness escaping outside, then you know I'm trying to escape confrontation with our oldest about her not wanting to go to school.Oh, she still grumbles but cooperation at any level is better than an all out war. Been there done that more than once. Sometimes we even make it to school with a big grin on her face. Other days like today we just barely make it on time.
Remember, honey catches more flies than vinegar. Positive reinforcement changes behavior quicker than negative. I can't fix the reason our oldest doesn't like school but I can try to soften the edges and teach her how to live with the things she can not change. I just pray she doesn't have the problems our other children had with public school.
So you can see I don't have all the answers. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out how to handle a grown child that had major sequencing issues. The lack of which makes it difficult for this child to see the consequential events that are the results of their actions.
I do have some rules to live by that guide my actions and with those in place I contemplate and pray about the problem seeking answers and inspiration. Some problems are solved quickly and others take years. For example, an alcoholic. Becoming and staying sober takes years of hard work. For some, a lifetime.
Whoops! this was suppose to be erased. It is so challenging to do a post with little ones begging for your attention and with my day starting very early and ending late there is no time to myself to just write.
This little piece was to go in another section but as time is of eccense today and everyday I'll leave it as a note to ponder on it's own.
This doesn't mean you spend your time beating yourself over the head if your child is misbehaving. instead exert that same energy into figuring out how to fill the missing need. It might just be a simple case of not understanding instructions. Example, the little boy that kept going to the heavy traffic area at the end of his block. In exasperation his mother asked him why he kept going there when she told him not to. He turned to her and said, "Mommy what's a corner. "

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