Tag Archives: discipline

Discipline

Why is it that I feel so awful after I discipline my kids, even though they totally deserve a consequence to their actions?

Case in point – one of the boys was asked to tidy something away before bedtime. A reasonable request, one that was asked in a calm tone. The answer was an extremely defiant “No” which escalated into said child yelling and slamming doors. A huge no-no in this house.

I told him that the next five times he asks something of me, my answer will be “No”. He didn’t like that idea at all. He didn’t think that was fair. But I figure it puts the point across fair and square and the punishment indeed fits the crime. He is also not allowed out on his bike today after school. That punishment is for the tremendous chutzpah he showed in his defiance, the slamming doors etc.

He deserves to learn his lesson. So why do I feel awful? I already used up one of the noes. I was making his lunch. I got the cream cheese out of the fridge. He asked if he could have tuna instead. I said “No, not today.” And reminded him that he has 4 noes left now. (And truly, making him tuna would not have been difficult at all).

He left for school, as if nothing happened yesterday. Yet I still feel hungover from it. I am also still waiting for an apology. I will stand firm and follow through, I always do, but why does it have to hurt so much??

Heinous or Harmless – Discipline

I have written before about keeping promises and carrying out threats. I was tested on this on Friday night. For the longest time I have had a deal with my youngest son. That if he goes to shul (synagogue) with his brothers on Friday night and misbehaves, then he has to go to bed after kiddush and hamotzi (the ritual Friday night blessings). We started this in order to keep him focused on being quiet in shul, and not bothering his older brothers while they daven (pray). It’s the older boys that tell me about his behaviour and I require consensus from all three. For months he was well behaved enough to stay up for the meal. I know it’s hard for him and for his brothers. They are alone in shul, and have to keep themselves and their little brother in line. Hopefully soon it will be a thing of the past, and the KoD will keep a watchful eye on them.

Friday night they came home after shul and told me that the little one did not behave, did not maintain decorum fit for shul. I was saddened and disappointed. I called him to me, and asked him how he thought he behaved. After much hesitation he admitted he had been badly behaved. I held him in my arms, and told him that after we eat challah he has to go to bed, as that was our deal. He was so upset and it tore my heartstrings to shreds. It would have been so easy for me to tell him to behave better, and ok, you can join us for the meal. But I wanted him to learn the lesson and also to know that I carry out my threats when necessary.

We were both crying when I bensched him. He cried all through Shalom Aleichem and Eishet Chayil. He was crying almost too hard to drink the grapejuice. He managed to chomp his way through a piece of challah, softened with his hot tears. Before he left the table he came to curl up on my lap. I asked him if he understood why he was being punished. He knew why and promised to behave better next time. I reminded him how much I love him, but that he needed to go to his room.

He took some books so he could read in bed. He came out of bed a couple of times for an extended drink of water and another hug or two. I missed him at the table. I did.

Shabbat morning he crawled into bed with me and told me he felt so sad that we were all having fun without him, and the he knows if he would have behaved appropriately that he would have joined us for dinner. He promised that he would be the best boy in shul from now on, because it felt “bad” to be punished. He totally understood his punishment, he was aware that there would be consequences for his bad behaviour, but it hadn’t deterred him. He told me that next time he wanted to act up in shul he would remember how sad he felt to hear us having a fun meal and not be part of it. So I guess he learned the lesson. But why do I feel awful about the whole thing?

Was disciplining him this way heinous or harmless?

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Parenting Stream of Consciousness

One of my boys is AD(H)D. Thankfully he is not hyperactive. He was diagnosed relatively early, at the age of 6, and later on was also diagnosed with some learning disabilities. By the time of his diagnosis I was frustrated with his inability to keep track of his things. I used to joke that things needed to be stapled to him in order for him not to lose them. It was eventually explained to me, that it isn’t because he doesn’t care about his stuff. He does. He has the thought to put the sweater in his school bag, or to put the lunchbox back in the locker, just on his way there he had 143 other thoughts that totally sidetracked him from the task at hand and he lost focus. Having AD(H)D and learning issues severely impacts his self esteem and it’s a tough job to keep him focused and feeling good about himself.

He is different from my other kids, in that he needs a different part of me, but then again they all do. When you start raising your kids you have this idea of the type of parent you will be. You don’t think that each child will need something different from you, that each child has to be parented as a separate entity. That what works with one son, will not necessarily work with a younger sibling. I now believe parenting needs to be tailored to the child not the parent.

If one of my non-ADHD kids loses something, or messes up in school, I feel differently. For them, sometimes, it’s sheer carelessness, or laziness or just plain obnoxiousness. To them I am sure it seems that their ADHD brother gets away with a lot. It’s tough to explain to them, in a way that they will understand, that his brain processes things differently. That if I lose my temper with him and tell him I am angry at what he did, that he will take that as if EVERYTHING he does is wrong, that I think he is stupid and useless and worthless. I have to be extra mindful of the way I talk to him, so that even if he did lose his house key, for example, he needs to know he was wrong, but it doesn’t have to be this huge deal where everyone over-reacts. I have to balance the lesson and the consequence with love and acceptance of who he is. But then again, isn’t that what we need to do with every child?

I was thinking about this the other day. I was so convinced (especially also having been told by others that I let him walk all over me) that I parent him with kid gloves, and am more tough with the others, so I decided to try to observe my own parenting based on each child.

My findings: I am more gentle with him, but I don’t let him have a free pass. He does get disciplined and doesn’t get away with things. His consequences might, however, be different than if another brother had committed the same “crime”. If I ask the others to complete a list of tasks, I am more apt to nag at them to get finished. If I assign the same tasks to him I know I have to remind him step by step what he needs to be doing, so I am more patient. The others have no problem with remaining focused on the task at hand. He gets sidetracked so easily, even when medicated (which is a story in and of itself).

No one warns you when you are pregnant that parenting is a tough gig. That you will doubt yourself at so many points along the way. That if your child has special needs that you will blame yourself and want to give that child the essence of your own soul to make up for his challenges. No one explains what the feeling is like to watch your babies grow up and become real and good people because of the care you have nurtured in them. No one adequately explains the emotional roller coaster that parenting is.

This parenthood thing – it’s so awe inspiring and scary and just plain wonderful. I am so blessed to be mommy to these 4 boys and to see their individual characters develop and grow. I hope and pray that God continues to help me to give them all that they need, and to be the best Ima I could hope to be.

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