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Old 04-26-2008, 09:02 AM   #11
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

Originally Posted by Chris3jam

I think you are totally right on. And I think that is where I am hitting a brick wall with my kids. My kids' "problems" (or, ever since we've hit this plateau that seems to have gone on forever) are not being handled by discipline. At the very time that I need to relax a bit, and let them grow up and move on (ie, quit trying to avoid bad consequences to bad behaviour), I have been treating them the same, still, as I see these behaviours that outright worry me (being unkind to each other, yelling, hitting, hurting, etc., etc.). So, I "tighten up the reins", not knowing that I really need to be giving them their heads a bit, and taking on a lot more responsibility (which will bring on consequences of their own actions). It's started to sink in a little, as we branch out into organized sports. I think you see this as the kids grow up. . . .when smaller, "making it happen" and distraction is so much easier, and it works.. . which, at the same time, avoids consequences (potential dangerous ones, even) to their actions. As they grow up, and really start asserting their individuality, I think "making it happen" and disraction is a hindrance to some of the consequences that they need for growth. When they are smaller, for instance, we can take a snack with us to the store,make sure they've napped, etc. . . we can be a lot more proactive. As they get older, that "need" is gone, it's not so critical, and they *should* be able to have more control over their bodies, and when they "cut up" in the store, they need to see the consequences to their actions (the clerk telling them not to heelie in the store, for instance. . . since they didn't listen to me 1,000,000,000,000 times). I think it becomes less a matter of discipline (trying to change the behaviour), and more a matter of being able to "live with" the disappointments, embarrassments, excitement, joys . . . . . .. basically the highs and lows of living with another imperfect individual, and trying to help them find their way through, too, rather than trying to change it. As we try to deal with our own reactions and emotions, we need to be there to help them navigate the same waters.

I understand I've rambled. And I'm sorry. But, I think it all applies. I just absolutely cannot find the right words for the ideas today. I just wanted to say that I agree, and I'm seeing the same thing, *especially* as they get older.
I think kids do need to challenge the system, so to speak. I don't know much about the older children's development, but at some point, the children reach an age where they question parental wisdom, AND it's totally DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE to challenge it. I forgot where in my human development book it is, but as children age, they no longer see the parent as infallible. And yet, that's okay. The transfer of control should be gradual from the parent to the child. Some question parental authority earlier, or are incredibly argumentative (seems like the more independent minded are going to be more argumentative), but, it is supposed to happen.

And the fighting between siblings? As much as we don't like it, it has a function too. Sibling fighting is much like cub fighting. In fact the family is a microcosm of the "real world". Learning to get along with different personality types is part of life. And there has to be a certain amount of scuffle amongst siblings to practice skills. Our first experience with real conflict is usually with our siblings. What we parents usually lack is good conflict management/resolution skills. Believe me, I'm talking about myself here too. I am in need of education in that department. And the funny thing is that the workplace occasionally provides workshops on conflict management (I had one in one of my jobs years ago), but there is a lack of workshops for parents on this type of skill. Obviously if adults in the workplace are sometimes in need of conflict management skills, wouldn't you think parents are in just as much need?

Letting the children experience the consequences of their actions are the best gift we can give them. My mother, for instance, when she found out I took an eraser from a store when I was about 11, took me back to the store, had me tell them what I'd done, apologize and return the item, and I felt the fear and embarrassment of what the store owner would do. Fortunately, the store owner accepted my apology and wasn't going to prosecute (after all, it was a little eraser and I was only 11). But, it was a great lesson to me that did the job. I was terrified of ever doing that again.

But, I can say this: It's easy enough to say this on paper, and tougher to live it.
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