Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Discipline... Ain't It Grand?

Today is a beautiful 77 degrees, low humidity with clear sunny skies and a slight breeze. Quite idyllic. Anticipating this I had planned to hit the park after school and let the offspring play until they simply could not play anymore.

All that changed when school got off to a hinky (the technical term) start. K.Z. was being a bit too silly and then his attitude changed to complete annoyance at the task at hand and the teacher. The annoyance soon became mine. Eyes were rolled (his and mine; how does a 7 year old know how to roll this eyes in that manner? Maybe watching his mother?), whines were produced (his) and eventually ends of ropes were reached (mine). So instead of spending the afternoon at the park, K.Z. will be spending it in his room. Fortunately I have a friend who offered to take the girls out with her to spare them from the "in house" punishment.

But how much discipline is too much and when do they understand the connection between the action and the consequence? It would be so easy if we could just do the whole "shock collar thing" like some use on dogs. Go too far in the yard? ZAP! Roll your eyes and talk back to your mother? ZAP! Okay, not really, I would never actually shock my child nor my dog, but it would certainly be effective!

I told K.Z. this morning that if his attitude continued down the "hinky" path he would miss out on the park and spend the time in his room. Initially it worked. The attitude changed and he was gung-ho about finishing his school work and getting to the park. But the "shock" wore off and his attitude slid back down hill so his behind marched up the stairs.

By nature Mr. Clean and I are "cut and dry" people. You break the law, you get prosecuted for it. You hurt someone's feelings, you make it right. You spill milk, you clean it up. Wailing and gnashing of teeth are not really necessary (unless it is Mommy, then well, sometimes it is necessary...). So we set down a punishment for the kids and that's what has to happen. But what if it ceases to be effective?

K.Z. was initially told that if he does not do school properly with Mom, then he will have to do it with Dad when Dad gets home from work. Not so bad, after all Dad is pretty cool. Therefore that punishment had to be amended. Next it was that he had to do double the work with Dad. That kind of stung, but since he is usually perfect until it comes to math (our last subject of the day), double math is not that much of a hardship for him either.

So now, he has to spend the afternoon in his room until Dad gets home, do the double work and usually is assigned a room or two to clean, which he hates. He can play, read, listen to music or do whatever while he is in his room but he has to stay up there alone. K.Z. is a social creature and likes to be around people so he hates being banished. What happens if this fails to get his attention? There is not too much father we can go with this road of punishment lest stripping his room of everything he owns and then making him stay up there. I simply don't think that will work either.

Mr. Clean is so much better at this than I am most days. He can keep things calm and rational when the kids get out of hand which produces a reasonable discipline (let the punishment fit the crime, if you will). I however tend to take it personally and let emotion take over which results in a ridiculous punishment some days. I immediately usually want to take it back, but once it's out there, it's done. My credibility is at stake and I have to follow through. Oh what fun to be a parent. I just hope I don't screw them up too badly by the time they graduate. If so, I promise to pay for the therapy...

1 comment:

Julie said...

Boys will be boys. The only thing Carter likes about school, he says, is recess and gym (the whole whopping one day a week they have it now). When at my wits end, I look around at all the men I know and most of them hate to learn by listening or listen at all. If is is any consolation, Carter spends half of his half-day kindergarten in the hallway or behind the teacher's desk.

If you have not already, look at the love and logic website. Their philosophy suits me, although it is a bit liberal, so you will probably cringe. Much love, Julie.