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Old 04-26-2008, 06:53 AM   #1
MarynMunchkins
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Default Discipline can "fix" a problem

I want to talk about the idea that discipline - either punitive or GBD - can always solve an issue with a child's behavior. I know how easy it is to believe that if you just do *this*, the annoying problem will be solved and your life will be easier. For punitive parents, that idea tends to be a spanking. For GBD parents, it seems like it often relates to food or sleep. If you feed them more often, or this, or NOT this...If you get them to bed earlier, take more naps, less naps...they will stop behaving this way.

:/

I realize I deal with special needs, but I don't think that is really true. And I feel like I have often set myself up to fail completely by trying to fix a problem rather than just doing what I should and coping with my own feelings about the situation. Working all day to get the baby just the right amount to sleep just to have her be up all night anyway. Or practicing feeling words and outlets for anger only to have someone push someone again.

I think there are a LOT of situations as a parent where your job is simply to discipline and ride out the storm. I suppose it goes along with the idea of age-appropriate or age-typical behavior, but it's more than that. I think it's about relinquishing control and realizing that children really are their own people and they don't cooperate or respond to even the best discipline all the time.

Thoughts? Comments?
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Old 04-26-2008, 07:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

Sometimes behaviior issues are not the fault of the mother. It may be the child has a special need or the child is just having an off day. Yes I think that it is wise to make sure a child has a healthy diet and is well rested but sometimes it is just the age and or temperment of the child. My ds at three was a handfull .Family members wondered if he had adhd. Now at six he is much calmer. With my younger ds soon to be four I know now that this to shall pass . It passed with his brother it will pass with him.
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Old 04-26-2008, 07:40 AM   #3
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

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Old 04-26-2008, 07:49 AM   #4
Chris3jam
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarynMunchkins
I want to talk about the idea that discipline - either punitive or GBD - can always solve an issue with a child's behavior. I know how easy it is to believe that if you just do *this*, the annoying problem will be solved and your life will be easier. For punitive parents, that idea tends to be a spanking. For GBD parents, it seems like it often relates to food or sleep. If you feed them more often, or this, or NOT this...If you get them to bed earlier, take more naps, less naps...they will stop behaving this way.

:/

I realize I deal with special needs, but I don't think that is really true. And I feel like I have often set myself up to fail completely by trying to fix a problem rather than just doing what I should and coping with my own feelings about the situation. Working all day to get the baby just the right amount to sleep just to have her be up all night anyway. Or practicing feeling words and outlets for anger only to have someone push someone again.

I think there are a LOT of situations as a parent where your job is simply to discipline and ride out the storm. I suppose it goes along with the idea of age-appropriate or age-typical behavior, but it's more than that. I think it's about relinquishing control and realizing that children really are their own people and they don't cooperate or respond to even the best discipline all the time.

Thoughts? Comments?
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.
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Old 04-26-2008, 08:27 AM   #5
GrowingInGrace
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

For me, discipline works differently for each of my children. Discipline also "looks" different with each one.

For me, discipline comes easy to my oldest. She internalizes the messages easily with little reminder and has always been that way. She has always been able to comply reasonably. She's always been mature for her age (intellectually and emotionally).

My second one, the one with a possible sensory disorder, doesn't internalize the messages as well and never has. But we are working on that together. With her, thoughtful observation has been critical. Knowing what situations are likely to create "fallout" is something that I have had to learn. Children, no matter how unpredictable we think they are, can sometimes be quite predictable if you keep looking. I know she has limits to what she can cope with.

My second daughter, who I thought was incredibly unpredictable, is actually quite predictable. I know, only after about a year of thoughtful observations and trial and error, that certain things lead to trouble for her.

For her, feeding at regular intervals is critical, especially including protein to keep her blood sugar stable.
For her, too much activity (even if it's fun), can be completely overstimulating and draining.
For her, I know that for every two days of busyness (playdates, school, errand running, etc), will cause a "fallout" the next day.
For her, that third day, she will fall apart and have trouble all day long if I don't help her. She will be moody, inflexible, prone to be obnoxious to her sisters, etc.
For her, I have to build in down time WITH ME, because her internal regulators aren't mature. You think, at 4.5, they would be starting to, but with sensory issues, she needs a lot of external help reading her own signals. She is quite advanced intellectually, but her emotional regulators are out of sync so to speak. And because she has a very deep connection to me, for now, I have to help her regulate herself. In time, when she learns how to self regulate, I will have to help her less.

For her, it takes more than discipline after the fact. It is a whole new way of thinking and planning for her as an individual and us as a family. Fortunately, I'm a SAHM, so I have time to figure this out.

For her, choosing the RIGHT method of discipline isn't enough. For her, we have to work on setting her up for success in the first place, avoiding too much stimulation, building in enough rest times and good foods, and reading her signals and working on a solution before things escalate to mountainous proportions. It's easier on both of us that way.

For us, realizing that there were things beyond her ability to control has been the key to helping our family dynamic. Before we started investigating what was going on underneath the impulsiveness, the moodiness, the inflexibilty, our family was really suffering. I've had some pretty desperate pleas for help on GCM in the past because I felt so at a loss to make her behavior problems "go away". I've also modeled some negative behavior (not on purpose, of course), because I was at my own limits sometimes. I wanted quick fixes I wasn't going to get with dd2, and consequently, I threw my own tantrums at times. Definitely NOT helpful. Only made things worse. But the only way to make the negative behaviors (of both of us) "go away" is to find the root cause of them in the first place.

Now, for my third dd, we are starting to encounter a bit of a blend between dd1 and dd2. She's three, and typically more on target developmentally, and is doing typical 3 year old behavior. I have found this one thing about age appropriate expectations and children:
the more mature a child seems, the harder it is to realize that the mature child will still act age appropriate at times - and do things we think they should "know better" about.

Heck, even as adults, we still do things we shouldn't, that we "know better" about. And yet we still do them. The reason, we are human and we are stubborn, and this is a fallen world. We disobey God's rules just as much as our own children disobey ours. If we exhibited self control at every moment, we'd never overeat, we'd never impulse buy, never yell at our kids, and we would never create conflict with another person.

But somehow, we expect more from our children. We expect that we should have to go over something two or three times, and then never have to remind them again. If it were only that easy. But that isn't realistic. And you are setting yourself up for disappointment, resentment and angry feelings if you expect a method to be a magic pill that will cure all problems. It won't. But, eventually, the messages sink in, combined with maturity of the brain, they will internalize the lessons we want them to learn.

In the meantime, the best thing we can do is realize that these things take time. And we need to set ourselves up for success. Get plenty of sleep, good nutrition, so that we can cope with the reality that it takes effort and repetition and lots of observation of our kids to see what works best with them. Becoming familiar with personality traits and what sets them up for success (and what leads to trouble and avoiding that) helps a lot too.

I hope this helps. It's taken me about 2 years to internalize the lessons I've been picking up along the way. And I'm sure to make mistakes, but as long as the overall progress is forward, it's all good.

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Old 04-26-2008, 08:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

Quote:
I think there are a LOT of situations as a parent where your job is simply to discipline and ride out the storm. I suppose it goes along with the idea of age-appropriate or age-typical behavior, but it's more than that. I think it's about relinquishing control and realizing that children really are their own people and they don't cooperate or respond to even the best discipline all the time.
A resounding "yes". Sometimes annoying behaviors are just going to be there. Obviously, there are values that I want to instill in my children, and I want them to learn to be kind and respectful of others. But sometimes, I'm going to need to accept that I'm not cranking out clones here. My children are complex individuals, and I'm not always going to be able to pound a square peg into a round hole.
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Old 04-26-2008, 08:37 AM   #7
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

ITA that discipline is not necessarily to entirely subvert a behavior, but rather to disciple the child in 'appropriate' behavior with the goal being a Disciplined Adult.

Many times the things we associate with GBD (food, structure, sleep) are just about setting the child up to have the best chances at success at anything they do. It's not to change the child or cure them of an undesirable behavior, but to give them the best opportunity to reach their own potential.
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Old 04-26-2008, 08:44 AM   #8
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

I cannot tell you how many times I've just sat and cried out, "I just want this to STOP!" The thing is, when I focus on stopping the behavior, instead of discipling the child through it, I get so caught up in the behavior that I tend to forget the child, which usually tends to escalate whatever I want to stop It's why I think it's so important to not only have a list of ways you will set your child up for success, but a good large toolbox of ways to deal with things in the moment they are happening. You cannot prevent every misbehavior, being able to roll with the punches is a very important aspect of motherhood.
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Old 04-26-2008, 08:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

I think you're articulating a very valid point, Mary.

I think of it in terms of idealism. I see so many people I know (myself included) striving after idealistic goals and focusing on having what amounts to a perfect life (either by our definition or someone else's).

We call it things that sound good.... "doing the right thing" or "being a good parent" or "meeting my child's needs" or "walking with God" or "being healthy"... (all worthy goals) but when we are rooted in an idealistic mindset, what we actually envision is a dynamic where problems either don't occur or are quickly and effectively resolved at every turn. You're correct that the appeal happens all across the spectrum. Folks seeking after ideals can be drawn to the most punitive style or the most permissive style or anything in between--whichever one strikes them as the perfect solution--and they will ALL experience disappointment with their chosen approach.

We have an ideal of what AP/gentle (or Biblical) parenting looks like, and feel the weight of frustration and failure when that picture doesn't match our reality.
We have an ideal of what Christian living looks like, and feel the weight of guilt and self-doubt when that picture doesn't match our reality.
We have an ideal of what our education (or medical, or eating, or... etc.) choices should look like, and we infer judgement from others and feel inadequacy in ourselves when circumstances drive us in a different direction.

the list could go on and on... our marriages, relationships with friends and family, physical appearance, etc.

When we buy into that endless pursuit of some illusive ideal for ourselves, our lives, and our children.... we wind up focusing all our attention on that, we spend much of our lives anxious, disppointed, guilt-ridden, stressed-out, and pushing ourselves and others toward a goal that's little more than a mirage.

All that said, one of the great things I learned from AP/GBD was how to really investigate and problem solve when my kids were having behavior issues. There is a balance to be had between addressing the root cause of behaviors and understanding that some things just won't have a tangible solution.
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Old 04-26-2008, 08:52 AM   #10
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

What gets me about any problem is that it's okay to fail to "fix" it if you're using the mainstream "solution", but, if you aren't even considering that, mainstream empathy isn't available to you because you just didn't try.

I think that's why troubleshooting for breastfeeding problems is only now becoming mainstream.
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Old 04-26-2008, 09:02 AM   #11
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

Quote:
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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Old 04-26-2008, 09:05 AM   #12
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

great post
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Old 04-26-2008, 09:08 AM   #13
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

Quote:
I think there are a LOT of situations as a parent where your job is simply to discipline and ride out the storm. I suppose it goes along with the idea of age-appropriate or age-typical behavior, but it's more than that. I think it's about relinquishing control and realizing that children really are their own people and they don't cooperate or respond to even the best discipline all the time.


Some days, it's really hard to recognize that my children are their own person. They may look just like me or my DH...but they are not the same people we are. They are allowed their own reactions to things, and my goal shouldn't be to 'fix' what isn't broken, but to guide them to learn how to react in appropriate ways.
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Old 04-26-2008, 09:31 AM   #14
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

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Originally Posted by GrowingInGrace
Heck, even as adults, we still do things we shouldn't, that we "know better" about. And yet we still do them. The reason, we are human and we are stubborn, and this is a fallen world. We disobey God's rules just as much as our own children disobey ours. If we exhibited self control at every moment, we'd never overeat, we'd never impulse buy, never yell at our kids, and we would never create conflict with another person.

But somehow, we expect more from our children. We expect that we should have to go over something two or three times, and then never have to remind them again. If it were only that easy. But that isn't realistic. And you are setting yourself up for disappointment, resentment and angry feelings if you expect a method to be a magic pill that will cure all problems. It won't. But, eventually, the messages sink in, combined with maturity of the brain, they will internalize the lessons we want them to learn.
Well put.
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Old 04-26-2008, 09:40 AM   #15
Marsha
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Default Re: Discipline can "fix" a problem

Mary, you rock as usual. That's why I usually tell people I parent the way I do for ME because that's how *I* am supposed to behave, not to get an end result.

Growing in Grace, your second is a clone of my oldest. Poor oldest child! Not only do I not always know what is "normal", she (I greately fear) is quite far from normal. some days. And my second seems to go with the flow pretty well, and that irritates me too...that the world has to revolve around my almost 6 year old daugther's needs. But EVERYTHING: two playdates in a row leads to a day of horrible negativity and sometimes raging; she has wildly varying energy levels and she doesn't always know how she's going to react; unfrotunately her dad and I spend too much time talking about "attitude" and "I can't believe you begged to go there and then sat around being bored" and so on.

Chris, awesome insight about your kids. Let 'em mess up.....
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