Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Noodles of Discipline

I bought four of those neoprene, plastic, foamy noodle thingies for our trip to the beach. At first they were to be placed under the sheets to keep the almost two year old in the bed.

On an attack of, "What if he climbs out of bed and wanders through the house at night?", we opted to bring the pack-n-play for sleeping. The noodles then reverted to their original purpose, to float, splash and be, well, noodles.

However, in the four days the noodles were in the house they became (ominous music here) "The Noodles of Discipline". Here's how it went down.

I told my almost 6 year old to leave the noodles alone. At first it was the calm, mommy, behavior management voice. "Honey," make eye contact to demonstrate respect to the little person, "please don't take the noodles off the porch, fold them in half and beat your brother. We are using them at the beach for the baby."

Next(after 4 or 5 noodle incidents), it was more stern, again reasonable and with eye contact. "What did Mommy tell you the first time about those noodles? Use your remember-er (my word for memory). Patiently await an answer for at least 5 seconds to ensure child can process request. "That's right honey now go put them back where they belong."

The next 6 or 7 times, "Sweetie, put the noodles away." No eye contact this time, as the noodles were now stuck in the doorway horizontally as he couldn't figure out they were too long to fit through sideways.

Let's take a pause to discuss childhood behaviour management. I am not one of those 'nuts and granola" mommies. You know the ones, who think children are full of goodness and light and can do no wrong as they strum their harps and teach us all about love and fun.

I am also not one of those mommy's that has to have a perfect child. Perfect outfit, perfect behavior, perfect manners. Children are to be little adults and should act accordingly. Children are no more angels than they are adults.

I do, however, think that I have the job to build within my children the ability to control and understand their own behavior and the consequences it can bring (both good and bad). All behavior has consequences, like ripples in a pond, it affects everything around you. My job is to help them understand how not to completely splash the pond dry.

Now the noodles were being used to chase the dog, "If you don't put those noodles away," loud tone,"you will get a spanking!" In my head I am thinking, "Please don't do it, buddy."

A word about spanking, I think it's a bit superfluous. -Smack!-"Stop hitting your brother or I'll hit you!" Makes sense, huh? What happens when no one is around to do the smacking? Does the kid go buck wild? On the other hand, there has to be a consequence that is, well, consequential enough to deter bad decisions. For my sweetie son, spanking might be that consequence.

Another aspect of child behavior management is to always follow through on what we say, both positive and negative. Not only does this instill security and predictability in children's lives, it builds character in parents. It makes our "Yes" be "Yes" and our "No" be "No".

So, on the fourteenth time of telling him to leave the darn noodles alone, I had to do it. I had to spank. I couldn't back down. I looked him in the eye and asked him how many 'spanks' he deserved for being 'sassy' (my word for rebellious). Tearfully, he choked, "Fiiii-vvvvee." I told him I wasn't mad at him, but wanted him to understand that he should listen to Mommy and Daddy. After the 'spanking' I held him and told him I loved him. I asked him what he would do differently. He responded,"I wouldn't -sniff- play wiff da nooooo-doooools."

What would I do differently? I would have put the darn noodles in the garage and been done with the whole thing. However, there were still important lessons as part of the "Noodles of Discipline".

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