Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Spinal Tap Theory of Parenting

When Katie was a toddler, the usual time outs didn’t work. In fact, they often caused her to laugh right in my face. Nice. Measured, natural consequences rarely worked either. When she would hit her baby sister Megan with a toy, I would remove the toy for a short period of time and give it back later. This would not stop the behavior whatsoever. The only thing that worked to stop that hitting was to give the toy a time out for the entire day up on a shelf where she could not reach but still see it. What a stubborn 2 year old!
During a late night of breastfeeding Megan, I was watching This is Spinal Tap and realized with Katie, natural consequences may have to go to 11.
Katie is an 11 kind of kid to discipline. I often need to go ‘one louder’ with her as compared to my other two. This means her natural consequences must be more intense than the other two kids’. How does this play out in real life? Here is a perfect example. My kids hate putting away their clean laundry. Over the summer, the kids took to putting just laundered clothing back in the dirty hamper so they don’t have to put it away. That made me seethe with resentment, truth be told, because it demonstrated to me that they do not value what I do for them. The three of them received a stern lecture about not valuing my time and a consequence of having to re-do the laundry for the clothes they dumped in the hamper. Megan was slightly weepy and said she was sorry. Patrick told me that he hated doing laundry so he would never do it again. Katie said a quick ‘sorry.’ Right then and there, I knew that soon and she would need that ‘extra push over a cliff.’ I didn’t have to wait more than two days before she repeated the offense. This time, Katie was responsible for the entire household’s laundry for a week, including her dad’s smelly work out gear. I also decided to throw back some of the clothes she just laundered into the hamper. She was none too pleased, but it has never happened again. We live in an age where we are taught to treat our kids equally. I have found that it doesn’t work in my household. Some children need more time and attention (or a different kind of time and attention) for them to be successful. Some need stronger consequences for bad behavior. Each kid is unique, so why the push to treat them all exactly the same? So I strive to get equal results from my kids, and I don’t worry about treating them equally. I want them all to be happy, healthy and successful. For my threesome, those goals require very different things from me and my husband - each of them has an ’11 issue,’ where they require a bit more out of us. Discipline comes from the word ‘disciple’ which means spreading the teaching of others. The key word is teaching. We all learn in unique ways so it isn't surprising that disciplining a children may require different tactics for each kid. Stay tuned for my next post on how the movie Waiting for Guffman influenced my views on heteronormativity. (Just kidding) However, you can take a look at a couple of of my other parenting philosophies: The I Don't Negotiate with Terrorists Rule of Parenting and No Toddler Ever Starved from Stubbornness.

No comments:

Post a Comment