As there seem to be a lot of parents asking about discipline for various ages and issues, I want to share a story with everyone in the hope that it may help someone out there.
We can use the time out corner or chair, we can send kids to GA_googleFillSlot("minti_advice_island_logged_out_300x250"); their bedrooms (many parents do this and let the child play because it calms them down - so the child does not sit and contemplate what behaviour resulted in being in the bedroom, so it is effective only to remove the chld from the stressed parents' presence and not much else), we can talk until we are blue in the face, we can threaten them with all sorts of ramifications if they don't behave. Do these things work? Yes and No. Some children will respond to these punishments, but a large number will not - sometimes this is due to personality, sometimes it is because the parents don't 'go the distance" and implement consistency.
Teaching kids works on repetition and consistency, repetition and consistency, repetition and consistency .... Not using one method for a few days, then trying a new one.
I've parented 4 children and my best advice is that the earlier we teach them that there is a consequence for every action, the better off they are in the long run. I've used all the above methods of discipline when needed, and I have rarely felt the need to smack my children, but when I have given them one the have immediately realised that they have crossed the mark and pulled themselves into line. I'm not talking about beating the, rather just an open handed smack on the fleshy part f the bottom occasionally - when they have REALLY pushed the boundaries.
All said, my kids (thank goodness) have turned out well rounded, polite and agreable and we regularly receive compliments from teachers, parents of friends wanting them to come again, shop keepers applauding their manners, even general strangers. Now, I'm not professing to be a perfect parent - none of us are - but raising great kids is REALLY hard work and we have put a lot of effort into it.
The reason for this article is that I want to share a story with readers about has occurred for dear friends of ours and their son..... and this is a perfect example of what can go wrong when a child doesn't learn consequences and respect at a young age, and the parents don't use firm guidelines and discipline.
He was a "different" kid from about 1 year old, said his parents. "He only responds to discussion - not consequences" they told anyone who would listen. "You don't understand what it's like having a child like this" they have told numerous parents and teachers at all his schools.
For example when he used the "F" word in the school, in front of other parents and children at age 6, Mum would say "Oh, darling I can see you are upset. Who upset you today? Let's talk about it". There was never any discussion about keeping a lid on his anger and not using unacceptable language (which the parents don't use by the way)
When he was 9 he visited my home one afternoon and was with my 8yo son in the laundry downstairs playing. I smelled smoke and saw it coming up through the floor in my kitchen so ran downstairsto see what it was. He heard me coming and ran off like a rat up a drainpipe - couldn't get out of there fast enough. He was meant to be having a sleepover and because I "scared him" when I yelled about starting a fire under my house, Mum took him home. She told me that I shouldn't have left my lighter down there because it was asking for trouble saying "He isn't like your kids, and he has such an inquiring mind". I countered that I had a lighter there for 2 years, and my kids had been told never to touch it and nor had they, (to be honest I had forgotten it was there) and that he should know what is NOT acceptable when visiting other peoples' homes. It was 3 years before he visited again because I made him feel "uncomfortable".
When he was 10 and in an angry outburst he punched holes in the walls, Dad would just go off to the hardware store and buy what was needed to repair the damage - the son wasn't inconvenienced by his destruction or the cost of repairing it, or involved in helping repair it. He still punches holes in walls and doors and breaks furniture, and there is still no consequence.
By the time he was 11 he was experimenting with alcohol and drugs (because he didn't want to spend time at home so Mum and Dad gave him his "freedom" and he spent many days and nights skateboarding and hanging out on local streets with older kids who played on his willingness to fit in and be accepted.
When he started smoking at age 11 or so, I was discussing it with the father who said "Well there's not much we can do - we smoke" I said "You are the parents, and you are adults. You are also breaking the law by supplying him with cigarettes or money to buy them". Dad then said "His reasoning is 'you and Mum smoke and it stresses me out so I want you to see how it feels' and we can't argue with that can we?" I was gobsmacked. Dad then told me "It's easy for other parents to pass judgement when they don't have a child like this".
When he was about 12, I received an anguished call from the mother while I was out an she was at my place with no car, asking me to go to the medical centre where he was resting after being found on a street having a "green out" from smoking weed. Again, there was no grounding, punishment or consequence for this child, so he continues to do it. when he came home there was no punishment, no being accountable for his actions, no discussion about the behaviour. The parents blamed the other kids, telling me "He is so vulnerable, and he just lets people tell him what to do. It's so sad. The next day he was back with the same kids, carrynig on as normal. The parents think the important lesson he learned was that all substances have their limits, and he now knew something about those.
Fast forward to 2008 .. He is now 15 and totally out of control. He has absolutely no respect for anyone, including himself, his family or friends; he has barely attended school for the past 2-3 years as within weeks of starting year 7 he was suspended for telling a teacher that she was "f--ked and don't know me or what you are talking about" - in front of the entire class. Mum and Dad said "She really pushed his buttons, and she doesn't realise that he doesn't respond to being told what to do". He has been in several "special" education programmes and environments for kids with anger issues and lack of self control and these work until he decides he has had enough and walks out.
When I was visiting recently he asked me to give him a cigarette and I said no because that would be breakig the law. He said "Well Mum and Dad give them to me so are they breaking the law?" My silence spoke volumes, and he walked away grumbling .
He has already been to court and in trouble with the police numerous times, so muchs o that his Mum joked that she "knows every cop in a 15km radius on first name basis". He walks into their home and says "What's for dinner? Oh I F---king hate that" or when he can't use the computer "F--k I just want to use the f--cking computer". Mum or Dad will then say "Darling, when you are calm you can use it".
The calmest years of his life were when the parents put him into an "alternative" school (kind of along the lines of Steiner and Montessori but where the adults have less control). He happily attended school there for about 5 years, but whenever he had an out bust or was being disruptive, the teacher would say "I think you need to go and climb a tree" or "Go and get some fresh air and come back when you are ready". He seemed happy because he constantly did as he pleased! This is a child has a very high IQ (about 145 at age 6), has intelligent parents, the father co-owns a very successful business and they are model citizens of fairly high socio-economic community in Sydney. His parents still make excuses, and will readily tell you he has so many issues preventing him from behaving normally - ceoliacs disease, ADHD and "Occupational Defiance Disorder".
Child "Mum, can you drive me to school today?"
Mum "No sorry I have to go to work and it will make me late"
Child "MUM, driiive me to f--king school"
Mum "No honey, I can't"
Child "MUM, don't be a f--king b--ch. Drive me to f--king school"
Mum "Sorry, can't do it today darling"
child rants, raves, swears and screams, pretends to cry...
Child "Muuuum, pleeeease drive me to school"
Mum "I will drive you if you calm down and apologise"
Child "Ok. SOR-RREEYY"
Mum "Ok, that's better. You only needed to ask nicley. Now get ready and I will take you"
Child "Oh, and I need money - can you give me ten bucks?"
Mum said "see what we have to deal with?" I usually bite my tongue when I witness these scenarios, but I couldn't help myself and said "But he jus ttotally manipulated you by pushing your buttons and making you feel guilty, so you gave in and he got exactly what he demanded" Mum said "Sometimes I have to - It keeps the peace and at elast he is going tos chool today". See what's wrong in this scenario?
What went wrong? Ok, this child has some issues, but so do many other children - who are taught they have to function in society. BUT he was never brought to heel for his atrocious behaviour and treatment of people and belongings and now rules the parents. What he needed was some very firm discipline and probably the odd whack on the bottom in the first few years of his life. As a result his family have just about no friends as no one can stand being near this child and he causes trouble and embarrassment everywhere they go because he is rude, offensive, demanding and incedibly manipulative.
The really sad thing is that this childs' life has almost certainly been ruined and he will suffer for it for a very long time. Chances are in a few years he will leave home, but has little education no job prospects. If he is lucky enough to find a job and not get himself sacked for verbally abusnig the boss the first time he doesn't get his own way, it probably won't pay well anyway.
So to you lovely parents who are just starting out on this amazing journey called parenting, don't be afraid to "upset" your kids when you have to discipline them because it is their best long term intersts AND yours. Start implimenting punishments and teaching consequences when they are toddlers, and lovingly keep them in check before they spiral out of control as this poor boy has.
By the way, this is not just my opinion of this child and why things have gone so badly - many parents who have observed these child and parents interactions, and the childs' ability to manipulate the parents, have just shaken their heads and said "What the???"
The point of all this is that not learning boundaries when they are young gives kids no guidelines to live by and a snowball effect occurs. With time the atrocious behaviour becomes all the child and the family knows, and the longer it is tolerated, the less likey it is to stop.
Boy, a bit of an epic tome here sorry, but sometimes it takes a lot of words to explain things sufficiently. Even if this advice helps just one family, it was worth taking my time to write this!!
Happy parenting everyone