Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Hanging Discipline Out To Dry
Pre-children I strongly defended the right of parents to use corporal punishment with their kids. Offenses such as running out into the street or putting metal objects into electrical outlets seemed to require a swift and unambiguous consequence, not a negotiation. My oldest, L, ran across the street once when he was 2 years old. I caught up to him, hauling a 5 month old M with me, and he got a spanking. More striking (bad choice of word?) was that his fun, easy-going mother was wild with anger and fear, something he had never before witnessed. I don't regret spanking him, but that was the only time I have ever done it. He has been told that climbing up in our 3rd story window that is completely open, no screens, is a "spanking offense", and this warning is all that has been necessary to curb that problem in the bud.
The problem I have is with those smaller discipline infractions: touching something he is not supposed to, throwing toys at his brother, being rude. What is an appropriate discipline for these? In the heat of the moment, spanking, or a quick swat seems quick and effective, but I felt like it was a cop out. I should be able to come up with an appropriate, respectful consequence for misdemeanors. For a while L had a bad habit of turning on the stove. I refused to spank, it didn't seem appropriate. The solution was having him sit on his hands. He sat on his hands any time he touched something he wasn't supposed to. It worked. He laughed a lot while he was sitting there, it was indeed a funny pose. In addition to the laughter was the result that he stopped touching the stove. Effective AND no crying! It never worked for M though. Eventually it didn't work for L either. New technique....standing in the corner. This one wasn't as funny. This one resulted in crying. This one also got results, until recently. Also recently has the back talk started getting bad.
Enter our latest discipline craze that so far is working like a charm. Both boys LOVE playing on the computer. TVOKids , Bob , and Thomas are their favourite destinations. Every day the request to play on the computer echoed through the apartment. Now comes the clever part....clothespins! I bought 40 clothespins, numbered 1-20 for each L and M and hung them on the wall. They are now entitled to 20 minutes of computer time a day. However, anytime they misbehave, are rude, or ignore a repeated request, they lose a minute. Extremely effective for L! L compares how many minutes he has with M. It is a competition, except that M doesn't really seem to care. L will even say "I have 19 minutes today, I'm a really good boy!".
As a bonus, all I have to do is glance at the pins when I get home and I already know how much support C will need after his day with the boys.