Disciplining the children

by - Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Before getting into the subject, I'd like to mention that I feel I am horrible at disciplining my kids. I am the kind of mother that often says "crap, now what?". But when I notice that my children are not behaving how I want them to, then the only one I have for advice is mother Google.

To my surprise, sometimes I cannot find the specific behavioral issues that my children have. It's like we are the only parents on the planet that have to deal with their fuzziness! So what is a mother like me (who doesn't know what she's doing most of the time) to do?

Well, after months of letting kids control me, I said enough is enough. It's time I control the situation for a change. So I took a deep breath, put my panic attacks aside, and announced to my husband that there will be changes around here. Here's some of the things I realized when in pursuit of my new mission:

When your kids start their sirens (tandrums), don't start panicking yourself. 

That's the first step. You need to forget that you have screaming children right now (even if you are in a public place and everyone is watching and judging you.) You have to keep calm, and start brainstorming. Identify what the problem is, and what ways you can fix it. 

I realized that when I get stressed out myself while my son is in a middle of a fit, things will only escalate from there. Imagine being in his shoes, panicking because you can't make your point across, or you don't feel safe, or you don't understand why you can't have what you want, or you are in pain, and then watching your mother panicking along with you.

When they can't have what they want, explain why only once and then let them cry it out. 

I know how difficult this is, but this is the best way I found to make my point across. When my 6 year old son decided for a few months, that he doesn't want to feed himself (despite his apraxia of speech, he's got the motor skills to feed himself), and that he wants me to feed him, and to repeat the word of the food every single time he took a bite and make sure I stare at him while he's eating (you can imagine I couldn't even get anything done in the house), when he cried about it (and kick, and bite, and refused to eat unless I do all the above), I thought to myself "I have a headache, my blood pressure is going high again, and I don't want him to stay hungry", so I accepted this behavior, thinking whatever it was it's just a phase and it's temporary. 

At some point I got tired, and complained to my husband. He said as well "it's just a phase, just do what he wants you to do and in a few more months he will be ok". When I heard the "a few more months" words I became furious, and angry at everybody. So I told (no, rephrase that, ordered) my husband, that from now on, we have to be more stubborn than he is. So, when my son was about to have his next meal (and I don't care if it's something that he needed fork and knife to eat it), I told him, in a calm and polite manner, "your food is ready, eat." He started crying and shouting as loudly as he could. Then I said "no, mommy cannot feed you anymore, I have to wash the dishes / cook / change your sister. Mommy is very busy. From now on, you have to eat by yourself". 

After saying that, I went about my business and left him to cry, shout, pull, tear my clothes apart, beat, bite, and kick. He didn't eat for almost 2 days. As a mother, of course I was worried for his well being. But I had to stay firm. I have to keep remembering how awful those labor pains were, and how I wanted to raise my children before I had them and drove me crazy. 

On the 3rd day, he started eating everything on his own. And the quantity and variety of food he was eating increased as well. I was so happy! I made sure I praised him and thanking him every time. When I saw that being more stubborn than my children works, then I made sure I was like that every time they demanded something ridiculous.

The clock is your friend

Another thing my son was demanding, is staying in the bathtub after his shower and play with the water for hours. The obvious problems with that: waste of water and soap (he loves the foam) and flooding the bathroom, which lead to unnecessary amount of cleaning and ruining the cabinets under the sink. That was a tricky situation, because you can't just let him cry it out in the bathtub. That's where he wanted to stay in the first place. And forcing a tall skinny slippery 6 year old out wasn't doing much good for my back.

So, I put my iPhone to work. I told my son, "let's play a game. Look, this is the timer. Choose the ringtone you want for it, and in 10 minutes time, after you are in the bathtub, it will ring. When it does, then you will have to come out. Ok?" 

That was it. That was the easiest way to get him to do what I want by making him think that's what he wants to do.

You can do the same with the use of electronic devices, or if he  / she throws a fit when leaving from the park to go home, etc.

Visual schedule

I've mentioned this before in another post, but it really helps kids to visualize how their day will be like. Just like when going to a traditional school and they have a timetable on when to do what, (and whether they like it or not they stick to it), the same thing you should do. That way you will set up a routine that they will remember and follow.

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