A couple of days after RJ was born, we had his first doctor’s appointment. They weighed him and he’d loss a few ounces. For a newborn who was only 6lbs 11oz, this was a concern. The doctor told me to nurse then give him formula as a supplement until my milk came in. The first time I did this and he looked up at me “milk drunk”, I thought “I got this”. In the years that followed there was the switch from bottles to sippy cups, potty training, first day of daycare. We were slaying all day. Then, my child turned 6 1/2. The stage where he dislikes everything that wasn’t his idea or exactly what he envisioned. The stage where nothing is fair. The stage where not getting his way results in epic shouting matches and meltdowns. The stage where his dad and I are about to lose our f’ing minds! I’ve been learning from our mistakes, reading tips from experts and gotten some advice that I think is helping. Here are my 5 takeaways from disciplining my 6 year old.
My child is not me and I’m not my mom
I’ve always had this idea of parenting the way I was parented, with a few minor tweaks here or there. I think I turned out ok. I had a good balance of being able to talk to my mom and still understand she wasn’t one of my little friends. Somewhere along the line in my memories of my childhood I forgot that though I feared my mom, I didn’t always listen to her. She was very stern. I knew not to be disrespectful in her presence, but I think that just made me sneaky. This was an art I would practice heavily in my teenage years. I always thought that when I had kids of my own, I would instill that level of fear. You know, the look that would make them cease and desist whatever awful behavior they were doing. Well, apparently my look needs work because RJ doesn’t have that fear, at least not to the extent I did. It’s not for lack of me being stern because I am admittedly the “bad cop” in our house. He just isn’t built that way. He doesn’t react to things the same way I did and I don’t have the same presence as my mom. Who would have thought, my child would have his own personality and not just be a clone of me?
This parenting sh*t is hard
I’d love to say I’ve been praying and using what I’ve learned in the books from The Art of Listening post and RJ just became a parent obeying child. I’d also love to say we’re no longer experiencing some of the behavior that started this. That’s not the case. We have BAD days and I’ve shed lots of tears, because I felt I should have answers that I just didn’t have. I’ve questioned our parenting. Mainly because for the most part RJ only exhibits his extreme behavior with us. Part of me is grateful because that means he knows how to behave and therefore, we have done something right and at least he knows how to act in the streets. Part of me feels ashamed because as his mom, I should have a better handle. How can my child behave with others and not me? I was talking to my god-sister recently about how our upbringing put a lot of pressure on moms to “control” their kids. Growing up we always heard children should be seen and not heard. It seemed anything short of a child who is obedient in all situations was a failure. “Oh, it’s shame, they can’t control that child.” I spend a lot of energy making sure RJ doesn’t bother other people when we’re out or even visiting friends and family. I believe kids shouldn’t take part in grown conversations and there are times when kids should be quiet. However, my child has thoughts and opinions that should be taken into consideration. He wants to be heard just like us adults. I’m realizing some of those standards I grew up with don’t allow for wiggle room and for kids to be kids. I’m learning is to parent the child I have in whatever way works best for us.
Spanking doesn’t work for my child
We’ve tried spanking RJ with our hands and discovered it’s not a good form of discipline for him. It doesn’t result in the behavior we’re seeking from him and it doesn’t give us a leg to stand on when we tell him not hit others. Mainly, don’t like how it makes me feel. I want him to have a sense of fear of me and Ralph in that he’ll think twice about misbehaving because he doesn’t want to disappoint us. However, I don’t want him to be AFRAID of us. So, spanking is out for us.
My husband and I have to be on the same page
My husband and I were raised differently and it plays out in our parenting styles. He kind of leans towards the idea of being friends with RJ. He doesn’t really want RJ to be mad at him so he will cave before me. Often times this makes me the “no” person and therefore the bad guy. Lately, as we’ve been trying to nip some of RJ’s behavior in the bud, we’ve had get on the same page quick! These kids aren’t playing any games. A united front is the only way we will survive.
My child’s love of winning is our solution
I was talking to a coworker about being fresh out of ideas on how to deal with RJ’s behavior. She suggested a behavior chart. RJ is huge sports and he likes visuals. He likes working towards a goal he can see rather than just an arbitrary end goal I’ve created in my head. Plus, he’s familiar with behavior related points from Class Dojo at school. I created a chart with behaviors I’d like to work on as well as some aspects of our morning/evening routine. Then, I came up with rewards for reaching certain goals. We are about 2 1/2 weeks in, it’s not an overnight success, but he’s engaged and hasn’t dismissed it. *Yes, I had to add shower to his chart, because he views washing as an interruption to whatever he’s doing.
Does how you imagined disciplining your kids would be match your reality? Do you discipline your kids the way you were disciplined? If so, do you think it’s working?