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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Choices

One of the biggest jobs we have as parents is to instill a solid self-esteem into our children. It's important for our kids to grow up feeling like they matter, that they have worth. However, it's also important for children to take responsibility for their actions. We live in a world today that is far more concerned about hurting kids feelings than holding them accountable. Parents blame teachers when their kid gets in trouble, parents fight with coaches when their kid doesn't get playing time, parents don't discipline for fear it'll scar their child for life, etc etc etc.

Blogging is a tricky thing. I LOVE it and am glad so many of you read it, but having people read it means I also have to be aware of what I write. I don't believe in fluff. I don't blog to get more followers. Or to make people think I have a perfect little life. I blog to accurately tell my "story." To leave a little piece of myself behind for my children, and their children, when I'm gone. I want to tell it honest and true but I also don't want to cross that line where feelings get hurt, people get embarrassed, or I say something that could someday bite me in the butt. It's a tough juggling act and I pretty often drop a ball or two.

Yesterday something happened that shouldn't be aired to the whole world to read. However, it happened. I always am quick to share the positive in life, but I don't want to walk around looking like some one dimensional family. We all have depth, we all have flaws and those make us the imperfect humans we are :)  I tend to blog about most things in life, especially bigger things. So I've been debating about how to approach this situation...here it goes :)

Something that Zach and I are working on is not saying "be a good boy" to Kye. It's a hard habit to break but I realized by telling him that, we are implying that there is an opportunity to be a "bad boy." No child is perfect, but no child is ever BAD either. You make choices in life. Children, even very young children, make choices. Those choices can be good or bad but they don't define that child as a good or bad person. God loves us all, all the time, and always thinks we are "good" even when we choose to do "bad."

Yesterday was Mrs. Charlotte's 50th birthday and we offered to have her party at our house because it's impossible for us to really go places right now (Brittlynn eats at 4, 6, then 8...). Everyone else did all the work for the actual party, my only responsibility for the day was to get myself ready and the house clean. Sounds simple but with a non-sleeping newborn and a toddler, it was impossible (thank the LORD for my awesome husband!). Brittlynn cried all morning. Then she finally slept and Kye acted up. It wasn't a good day. It ended in lots of tears for me.

Kye made the worst choice he's made to date. It was very out of character and shocked me. Typically the bad choices Kye makes are ones where we say "do such and such" and he chooses not to do it. He doesn't often choose to do something wrong. He doesn't break things, hurt people, or have random bad acts. He just doesn't. In this case, however, he chose to do something wrong.

It was bad enough where I started crying right away and called Zach. Zach was out running some work and personal errands and he said he was coming straight home. I told Kye that Daddy was coming home and that he would be spanking Kye when he got there. I've never done this before. I believe if Kye misbehaves for me then I should be the one to punish him. I don't want him to think Mommy can't handle it and has to call Daddy in every time nor do I want it to appear that Zach is the only disciplinarian in our home. However, we've reached the age where I simply can't spank him anymore. I always knew this age would come, but I thought he'd be at least 5 or 6 years old...not two!!! The kid is STRONG and can wiggle away from me and shift around his body so it's impossible for me to spank him. When I tried he even said "silly Mommy." Like he knew there was no way for me to win that battle!

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "Kye, Daddy is coming home to spank you. Why did you do the unspeakable thing?"
Kye: "Ummmmm I don't know."
Me: "Did you do it because you were mad at Mommy?"
Kye: "Yes Ma'am."
Me: "Well Daddy is coming home from work to talk to you about it and give you a spanking."
Kye: "Just a little spanking?"
Me: "No sir, a big spanking. You made a very very bad choice and need a big spanking from Daddy."
Kye: "ohhh ok."

It was the first time Kye has done something to truly disappoint us as parents. He made a choice to act in a way that he shouldn't have acted and he knew it. He even told us he was going to get a spanking. When Zach got home Kye was very calm about everything and Zach took him to our room to talk to and spank him. Kye never got upset and was 100% understanding of why he needed the spanking. For the first time ever he didn't even put his hands over his bottom to block it.

It was a BIG moment in Kye's life. Both positive and negative. Yes, it was the first time he made such a choice. It was the first time for us, as parents, to know the way a child can disappoint you. But it was also the first time Kye had to own up to that bad choice. And he did it so well. We were both blown away by his maturity at handling the situation, talking about it, apologizing for it, and taking the discipline he knew he needed. I honestly do not think he'll ever make that choice again. It has changed the way I look at him, to me he grew up some in those moments. Zach and I both realized he's able to understand things on a deeper level than we typically give him credit for. That our hard work has been worth it as he understands the concept of consequences. That he understands when you choose to do wrong, you will have to be punished for that choice. He also was able to be punished a good 30 min after the action happened and still understood what he had done and why he was being disciplined. 

After the spanking Kye came out and apologized to me for it and we dropped it. Zach and I talked about it privately, and both said we were more shocked at his awesome response after the incident than we were about the actual incident taking place. Kye's going through a lot right now with having to share attention with a younger sibling and I knew that stress on him would come out in some way. I think the burst of anger towards me was him getting out a lot of pent up aggression from this past month. It's not an excuse for his behavior or is it justification for it, but I think it is the reason behind it. 

What matters most is that Kye learned from it and we all grew because of it. Isn't that true as adults too? When we make poor choices in life we have to face the consequences of those actions and, if we are paying attention, those "tough spots" in life allow us to grow in new ways. We learn more about ourselves and have an opportunity from the Lord to grow closer to Him. Before nap today, during our family prayers, Kye brought up the incident on his own. We haven't talked about it since it happened (it's important, to us, to discipline when needed but not to harp on things - all that does is tear people down) yet during his prayer he prayed about it. That is awesome! It's important to go to God in prayer over all areas in our lives and we try to have Kye understand that God is proud of him when he makes good choices and disappointed when he makes bad ones. Hearing him tell God that he wasn't going to do that again caused both Zach and I to look at each other and smile. 

He may have made a bad decision, but he's still our sweet Kye. When he gets in trouble he'll often say to me, "I'm a good boy!" My response every time is to say: "You are ALWAYS a good boy Kye, but you need to make good choices." I know we are going to face other poor choices from our children in the future. I know our moments of disappointment are only beginning. You do your best as a parent but you can't protect your children forever and they will experience the world and the many temptations in it. All we can do is prepare them for that and pray that they choose the right path to follow. Pray that when they do choose wrong, that they learn from it and come back to choosing right. I'm proud of Kye for learning from his poor decision and hope we can only continue to train him up in the way he should go!

I'd LOVE some advice on how to handle discipline issues when Zach is not home. It doesn't happen often where I need to spank Kye but when it does I am now at a loss for what to do? I like the idea of taking away a privilege but I feel it needs to be related to the issue at hand. Like if he pitches a fit when we turn off a movie then, yeah, he can't watch the movie again for a day or something. But if he runs in Brittlynn's room screaming (he's never done this, but it's an example) I'm not going to take away a movie privilege ya know? I also don't think it's fair that if he acts out at 9 am that he should have to wait for Zach to get home at 5 pm for discipline. He's way too young for that. I'm typically anti-time out but maybe that's my only option? Then, if it's bad enough, he could also get punished from Daddy when Zach gets home? Or at least have a talk with Zach??? Any advice would be great...and please don't bother telling me we shouldn't spank. Not only do we believe it's what the Bible instructs us to do, but we have also seen that it works so why would we stop? You can read more about our spanking beliefs here. I have also thought about rewarding when he does good to encourage him to choose right? But then he should choose right b/c it's the right thing to do, not because he gets a sticker or something for it at the end of the day ya know (don't get me wrong - I verbally reward him constantly for making good choices!)? Any help would be great!!!

18 comments:

  1. Emily, I seriously cannot tell you enough how lucky I feel to be "friends" with you.  So many people don't take their job as a parent serious and it drives me insane.  Your blog and parenting skills inspire me and reassure me that I AM parenting Preslei the way I should.  I know you and I have never met, but Kye is such a great kid and it radiates in his pictures and in his videos.  I seriously think you could give Super Woman a run for her money ;o) 

    -Amanda-

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  2. Emily,
    I was wondering if you have any advice.  I have an 18 month old and she tries to hit when shes angry and I don't know how to break that habit!

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  3. Very well handled! Three things Cheryl and I think help produce good self-esteem in children: having parents who love each other, having clearly defined rules of conduct, and being held accountable for our behavior. You guys met all three.

    Two year olds are supposed to act out. That is their nature - to test the world and explore the boundaries. It is a tough period - that is why it is called the "Terrible Twos." Parents do their kids a BIG favor when they respond as you two did - remind them of the rules and reinforce them with some kind of punishment. Good job!

    Can I refer you to this post I wrote?  http://www.warrenbaldwin.blogspot.com/2010/06/do-not-exasperate-your-children.html

    God bless, and keep up the good work! WB

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  4. Have you read "Shepherding a Child's Heart"? (Sorry if it says somewhere around here that you have....) It addresses discipline from a Biblical standpoint. I really liked it and it spans all the ages from infancy through teenagers. 

    I do the disciplining on my 3 yr old when my husband is at work. If I am tending to the other kid, I usually send her to her room to calm down, then I put the 16 mo. old somewhere that I can address her without him being a distraction. I usually put him in the exersaucer (yes, still!) or highchair with a few cherrios to buy me a couple of minutes. We talk about what she did to disobey, she acknowledges it was wrong, she gets the spanking, then we hug and I tell her that I love her. Having a few minutes to calm down has helped her with yelling/fighting back with me and given me a minute to think about things (and sometimes calm myself down if needed!).

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  5. Emily~This entry is so good!  I wish I would have had someone like you as a friend when I was raising you and Brandon.  I could have learned so much from you!  I'm SO proud of the wonderful Mommy you are and the way you and Zach team together to be the best parents you can be!

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  6. Great entry. Yes about "choices"... Had this talk with my son this afternoon. First, this seems typical for an older sibling to act out at least once when baby arrives. My son made a poor choice too..and how it scared me. Of course, they are smart and know our hands are full with the baby. I can't spanking either as it hurts me more than them.

    However, I suggest a time out for the number of minutes per age and if it's really bad 2 x the number. No talking or crying during time out. Talk to and explain it to him, which you're great at, and it really encourages better choices. It's easy for us to do and can be done anywhere. A counselor recommended this years ago when our son had to have testing for autism. It's the only thing that counselor said that I felt was useful.

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  7. Hey Emily. You really do have a great blog here! I am so glad that I happened across it! I do not have children of my own, but many close friends of mine do. My best friend has two boys, 3 & 5, and she is awesome with them. I see you are a thoughtful, loving and amazing parent as well. She will put them in time out in the same room and continue just as before. This shows her son that he is missing out because of his behavior. She doesn't change to doing something exciting, but just allows him a few minutes to consider that it is not all about him. She starts time out over if they are whining or crying because they are not "thinking about why they are there and what they can do differently". If they proceed to cry they have to do time out in their room. She uses a very stern voice and will help them relocate if they do not comply.  

    However, the best thing she does is after time out. She walks over to him, kneels in front of him and revisits the reason he is there. She tells him why that was a poor choice and that behavior is not acceptable for the following reasons. She then relates it back to him and the golden rule... then he apologizes and she tells him that she loves him and asks him if he understands. He usually will say "Yes ma'am" and tell her that he loves her too and they hug. Then she tells him he may get up now. She has control over the situation that way. If he has hurt someone else, he goes and apologizes and gives them a hug and kiss too. This is great because he is not only owning his actions, but making a positive step to consider the other person's feelings as well. Obviously, consistency is key. I think you are doing a great job and it is wonderful that you and Zach are on the same page with parenting and have such an open dialogue about your decisions as a family! What a great family, "flaws" and all!

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  8. Emily, I always enjoy your posts and appreciate how you always keep it real!  My Gabriela is 6 weeks younger than Kye, and I can always relate.  You asked about a reward type system and I wanted to mention something we began at Christmas that is working beautifully!  Gabriela got the Melissa and Doug Responsibility Chart from Amazon (it's $15 - though I got it for $10 before Christmas) for Christmas.  We hung it high in her room where she can see it, but not touch it without our help (inside her closet actually so it doesn't tacky up her room - haha).  Each week we agree on her responsibilities for the week (chores plus things like sharing, etc).  Then, just before betime each day we talk about the day and we decide together whether or not she gets to put a smiley face magnet beside each item.  She gets really excited and is proud to get smileys. Throughout the day if she is about to make a poor decision or disobey, I remind her about the smileys and she immediately changes her tune!  We still spank as needed, but this has become a fun and inexpensive way to recognize and reward good behavior.  I don't think kids need to be "rewarded" all the time for doing the right thing, but since she has a little sister (who happens to be cutting 8 teeth and is CRANKY right now), I do think it is important for my husband and I to make sure we give positive attention for doing well, which, let's face it, can get hard somedays.  This has been a fun way for us to do that. :)

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  9. @0f2e068168ab50d1cf768996fe3104ad  thank you!!!! i do take my job as a parent mega seriously and i feel ya on getting annoyed when other people don't...it's something i def struggle with as i know we shouldn't judge but dang some people straight up shouldn't be parents y aknow? esp those teen parent shows...i can't watch them!!!!

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  10. Andrea McCormick  ~ do you believe in spanking? kye hasn't hit too often but when he does we act VERY hurt by it and make sure we look and sound upset and said "Kye! you do not hit. Ever ever ever." then we tell him if he his so and so again he will have to get a spanking and we follow through. after the spanking we talk to him about it and explain to him that he's a good boy but has to make good choices and that he can't hit people. 18 months old is a TOUGH age...independence is starting and she's trying to test her boundaries, def a time for consistency and training! for spanking we used a paint stick from lowes or home depot. many people would say that it doesn't make logical sense for us to "hit" him for hitting us...but we've NEVER had an issue with him saying anythign about that or acting out in anger because of it. It's worked wonders for us!!!! let me know if i can help in any other way!

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  11. @fccc5d4d322d107f9f75fe380e5dfad8  thank you!!!! it's always a blessing to me to hear positive feedback when i have to make tough parenting choices, i'll def read your blog entry on it :) thanks again!

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  12. @6d921942ddaec26db7886a7cea94ef18 thank you for referring me to that book! I haven't ever read it!!!! or even heard of it...i'll add it to my list of books to buy (i'm also wanting to read the love language one and want to get something about raising first born, raising 2nd born etc on birth order).

    VERY good point...i should isolate him and let him calm down before attempting to spank him. It'll help me not act out of anger and, hopefully, allow him to calm down enough to accept the spanking from me and not fight me on it!!!! i'll try that next time for sure as it'd much much rather stick with spanking than try another method as i know spanking is effective!

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  13. @4188424a254b11dff9ec3b633e22d34d thanks mom!!! i was nervous at how to handle writing it, but zach even said it was his fav blog entry ever so i guess i did okay with it ;)

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  14. @b6212de159f6247c0e574310dc5556ca thank you so much for the advice!!!! i've heard the number of min per age thing and think it makes a lot of sense...i love setting a timer for stuff too so i could easily set one for that time limit so he knows when it's over! it's good to hear that kye isn't the only older sibling to act out in such a strange way, it was scary for me too!!!

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  15. Emily,
    I do Believe in spanking very much so!
    She does get her feelings hurt whenever she is spanked but it seems like it wears off and she "forgets" about being punished!  She will pull her hand back and try to slap us or a table or whatever is near! I love the what you tell Kye "Your always a good boy, but make better choices." I think I will def use it :) it has been somewhat difficult. The terrible twos are starting!

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  16. I noticed where you mentioned taking away a privilege but were wary of doing it if it didn't relate to the offense. I felt the same way but recently we had a problem with our 3 yr old son that we just couldn't get through to him about. He goes half day to preschool at church and was hitting other kids. We spank, but I absolutely will not spank him for hitting, that just doesn't make any sense to me. He is totally obsessed with Thomas the train and has tons of them. I finally told him that if he continued hitting he would have his trains taken away for the day. The next day he hit so we followed through and he was not allowed to play with them. Of course there was crying and pouting but it worked. The next morning as he was going into school he said "mommy Im not going to hit today." i told him that was the right choice and asked what would happen if he did. He answered "I'll get my trains taken away.". Anyway, taking away something precious to him worked and may be worth a try. This is off the subject but i think we live in the same neighborhood. Grove pointe in Hahira?

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  17. Rebecca Skiba thank you!!! she and i sound alike, when kye throws fits we do "couch time" which is basically the same concept. He has to sit on the couch, and not get off, until he's settled down and we talk about it. it usually works!!!! i use it for times when he is not being disobedient but isn't choosing the proper way to behave. where does your friend live??? i want to be her friend too!!! haha!!!

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  18. You two are doing a great job. We spank and I believe that if you do it properly, you will have to spank very infrequently. 

    That being said, Kye probably understands most of what occurred for a split second, but you do have to remember to keep your expectations for retention relatively low. He is still so young and at this age has a short-term memory.  Something happens the closer kids get to 4. Everything just clicks for them. All that you are doing and saying now regarding discipline and your house rules will wean and wane for the next two years or so, but then one day he will remind you of all you taught him and you will be glad you were thorough and patient. 

    Still, for now, enjoy him as your first born. We are guilty of treating her older than what she really is and now that she is 4 I just wish we could stop the clock for a moment. With two, time will pass more quickly than you ever thought possible. 

    A special person told me, when disciplining, all you can do is to teach your child grace. God Bless, 
    A.

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