Disciplining Children

Lately I have been reading some parenting books. Some out of interest and some out of desperation. Currently our kids are ages 14, 13, 10, 7, 6 and 2. Some of those are naturally challenging ages, namely the teenagers and two year old. Raising a 2 year old is old hat for me, having done it now five times. While Luke is a little strong willed he is not as bad as some I’ve had. Raising teenagers is a new frontier and honestly a little scary. I have read a bunch of books about it and for right now we are blessed to not have any major issues, just some moodiness and sassing, but no really big deal stuff. My biggest behavioral challenge is our 7 year old, Joshua. Ironically, as I write this I just had to pause to see about where a missing toy was. Turns out Joshua had taken it and torn it up and hid it under the couch and lied about it. This happened yesterday too. And yesterday he lost dessert for it. Today I’m upping the ante and he is sitting in his room for the rest of the day, lucky for him it’s already 3:30pm. Honestly, I will readily admit that I have no idea what do to with this child. I have parented five other kids and they have not given me as much trouble all together as this one has in his 7 short years. Nothing works with him. We have tried it all. We have also tried behavioral therapy, which is parenting coach basically, and that didn’t even work. He just continues to do whatever he wants regardless of consequences. You would think we were permissive parents and didn’t discipline him, which is far from the truth, it’s just that nothing works. Most of it is likely tied to his many disabilities, being ID, ADHD, and NF1. A bunch of letters that mean he doesn’t learn stuff like other kids therefore he doesn’t learn from past experiences and does the same stuff over and over again. With most kids when you hit a tough spot developmentally, like the terrible twos, you know that you can just hang on and they will grow out of it before too long. Not Josh. The very meaning of developmental delay is that we are stuck in the terrible twos indefinitely! It’s maddening to be honest. We have made small steps forward over the past few years, it’s just seems slow when you are in the middle of it all day every day. I cling to the hope he will grow out of some of this and will someday be an adult who can conduct himself with manners and not lie and steal stuff. I sure hope so, but right now it doesn’t feel like it.

If you are in the middle of a battle with one of your kids, whether they are special needs or not, know you aren’t alone. There are so many parents who are struggling, even those of us that people think have it all together. People tell me all the time we are such good parents. Man it doesn’t feel like it. But I wonder if anyone feels like a good parent. I have been reading some really good parenting books by John Rosemond and Kevin Leman. Anything they have written is good, I have read most of it and I would highly recommend it. Some of the most important lessons I have taken away from what I’ve read that I’m trying to employ are:

  1. Say it once, and walk away. Don’t keep repeating yourself over and over or making threats if the child doesn’t listen. If they don’t do what was asked, they when they ask you for something tell them you will not give them what they asked until what you asked has been done.
  2. Don’t make threats. I try hard not to do this, but I sometimes find myself saying stuff like, “if you don’t do ____, you won’t play video games every again. ” I’m not actually going to do that, and they know it. So they don’t take me seriously.
  3. If they act in a way I don’t approve of or they know is wrong, such as having a bad attitude, then I will say nothing at the time, but I will wait until they want something and deny them what they ask and then have a talk about their previous action.
  4. Two year olds are uncivilized barbarians and much of their behavior just has to be contained until they grow a bit older and can be trained better. This really helps me with Joshua, who is developmentally two, and Luke who is actually two. They are both very uncivilized and I wonder if they will ever learn to be nice. If I just hold on, they should grow out of some of this and be easier to train when they are “three”.
  5. Let your kids row their own boat. Don’t rescue your kids out of tough situations that they have caused. If they don’t do their homework, don’t remind them or say anything, just let them get bad grades and let life be the teacher. If they forget their jersey for ball practice, don’t go get it for them, let them deal with whatever consequences arise from them not having it. Parents 50 years ago would read that stuff and say, “well, that’s obvious”, because that’s how people parented until psychologist started writing books about parenting and then we all started second guessing our parenting. One thing I read that really stuck with me was that back in the 50s wives called themselves “housewives” if they didn’t work outside the home. Now we call our selves “stay at home moms”. Do you notice the difference? One is focused on the wife part and the other focused on the kids. We need to focus more on being an adult all unto our selves and being a wife then we do on our kids. That is a major shift in my thinking. It’s just takes your priorities and your life and shuffles them all around back to where they should be. God, husband, self, then kids. Not kids, God, husband, everything else under the sun and self last. That seems to be how must stay at home moms and moms in general prioritize. I’m really trying to think hard about this one and change some things.

Parenting is hard stuff. It’s a lot like training an unruly puppy, which I also have right now. It’s takes a lot of hard work, but it will be worth it in the end to have well behaved dog/adult kid. Parenting is a long game. You can’t just focus on today’s trials, or you might quit. You have to focus on the day when your kids will become productive members of society and leave your house, so you can finally have peace. lol

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