There comes a time in a child’s life when he needs to find his boundaries. He needs to explore right and wrong, discover good and bad, play mom against dad. When these times come it can be difficult for us parents to stay level headed, keep our patience and figure out how discipline.
That word alone, discipline, isn’t talked about much in parenting circles. It’s never discussed in parenting squares or triangles, either. Similar to a teacher’s classroom, disciplining takes on various roles and forms depending on the child. My favorite example is clapping the erasers together to clean them (back in the olden days of chalkboards). For one kid this was something to look forward to. They’d get to outside, away from their classmates and beat the dust out of the erasers. However, for another student it was a chore.
The same can apply to children at home. For one kid, emptying the dishwasher is a chore, while for the other it’s just something do. So finding the right punishment can be trial and error. Sometimes with more error than trial.
When a child decides to push his boundaries and test his limits, the best thing we can do is stand our ground. We are the parents, after all. Now’s not the time to be the best friend. There will be time enough for that later. When I say “no” I mean no. I don’t mean, “go ask your mother but don’t tell her I said no already”. When I come to pick up at school and tell you that when we get home you need to put your laundry away before you go play outside I don’t mean throw your backpack in the door and take off running to go play.
I don’t care how nice it is outside.
I don’t care if your friends are already outside.
I don’t care that you don’t want to put your laundry away.
I don’t care that you think it’s not fair.
So we need to find a punishment to fit the bill. They will be pissed no matter what we dish out, no matter how light the punishment might seem to us. It will pretty much be the end of the world for them.
To give a real example, that laundry putting away incident happened in our house yesterday. I picked up Crash from school and told him we were going home to put laundry away before we played outside. Of course he didn’t like being told this. Once we were home instead of coming in to put said laundry away (a 5 minute task) he tosses his backpack in the door and goes off to play with friends were already in the backyard. I didn’t fight with him then because, for now, it’s just laundry. It’ll be another story, a different battle, when it’s homework.
Later he asked me if he could play on his tablet. I said no. He liked this even less than me telling him he had to put laundry away. Naturally, he asked why. So I told him had lost his table time (except for Epic) and besides, he never put his laundry away like I asked.
He left in a huff.
He put his laundry away (with his brother’s help).
He then went to mom (instead of coming back to me) and tells her he put his laundry away and that I said he could play on the tablet after he had done that. Playing us. Once he was busted the dragons woke.
He was fussed at. He was talked to. He was questioned. However, no formal punished was handed out other than enforcing his no tablet time except for reading. He’s looking for his boundaries and he’s finding out they’re not as far out there as he was hoping. Like I found out when I was his age, his parents aren’t stupid.