Do you ever feel like all you say is “No?” I feel this way a lot. My house is a bit crazy lately-ok not lately. It has been crazy for a while now. We are headed into our third year of homeschooling and that first year is when I believe the craziness began.
Well, I am tired of saying “No” all the time. Using my Dad’s advice of, “if it hurts to do something, then stop doing it,” I am moving forward on my parenting journey, and I am stopping all the “no’s.”
This summer I have read numerous books (many of them for the second and third time) on parenting. I have definitely tried a lot of the advice given in the books, and some of it has worked. Unfortunately, not much of the advice seemed to really stick. Yes, we have decluttered the house and the kids’ rooms. Yes, we have a rhythm in the home. Yes, we have specific expectations of the kids.
So what went wrong? Well, a lot of the books discussed punishment. I know it sounds harsh. right? However, by punishment I mean things like time out, grounding, counting to three, and having strict rules with specific consequences. I have found that we are not good at following up on our consequences, and there are always grey areas and different care takers (mom, dad, child-watch workers, extra-curricular teachers, grandparents). An example is this-we do not eat outside the kitchen. We watched a movie the other day, and I brought popcorn into the sunroom for everyone to enjoy while watching the movie. The next day, the kids ate breakfast in the sunroom. Uhm…..NO. I broke the rule, so it must not be a rule any more, right? So how do I work with all of these grey areas?
Hopefully, I will find my answer in my latest find, Discipline Without Distress:135 Tools for Raising Caring, Responsible Children Without Time-Out, Spanking or Bribery by Judy Arnall. I am only through the first half of the book, but so far I am loving it. First off, it speaks of discipline and not punishment. I think I have turned into the punisher instead of the teacher of discipline. Overall, there are five parts to discipline that the author covers in this book. 1. “Teach, not hurt.” 2.”Stay with your ‘no’ and honor your word.” 3. “Look for the need or feeling behind the behavior.” 4. “Separate your anger from your discipline.” 5. “Be the person you want them to be.”
One challenge the author gives is to take a day and find other ways to get your point across without saying “no.” I have attempted this several times since I started the book, but I haven’t made it through a full day yet. Although, it did make me aware that sometimes I just say “no” because it is easier. My kids ask ALOT of questions and they ask for EVERYTHING when we go someplace. I have found that as they look at items in store, they simply are talking aloud and not really needing an answer. When they really, really wanted something, I simply asked, “Is it something we NEED right now, today?” The answer was “no,” of course.
One of my biggest pet peeves is wrestling! We have never condoned any type of violent actions, but as most of my friends with bigger boys tell me-it is just part of being a boy. The more I ask them to stop, I think the more they want to do it. So this week instead of asking them to stop, I simply asked them to change rooms because it really bothers me to watch them hurt each other (now, obviously, they are not really hurting each other, but it does look painful at times.). So far, they have stopped every time and moved onto another activity. Will it last? Who knows. I am hopeful.
I will give another update on the book as I finish it. If you have read it, I would love your thoughts. If you are looking for a parenting book, check this one out and let me know your thoughts.