One of my most favorite things to do is punish my kids. Rude right? Over the top and a little sadistic? Not the way I do it. Here’s the skinny. We need to learn. We all have moments of struggle and moments where we need someone else to step in and set us straight.
Our kids are new. Fresh into their skin, and they need guidance. Sometimes they even need to be disciplined. I promise you they want this no matter what they say, how they behave, or how many times they insist it’s awful. But discipline means boundaries. Boundaries mean safe. Safe means trustworthy. When we don’t discipline our kids, we are not safe.
Now let’s define this discipline idea. We’ve all heard that old adage to let the punishment fit the crime. I totally support this, but I will add to by saying sometimes our kids need us to be in the trenches right alongside them. This goes for biologic children, but it may be detrimental to foster and adopted kiddos. Really it comes down to any kid who has even a touch of attachment struggles. I have these in spades, but that’s another blog post.
Around here, we discipline according to the age of the behavior, not the age of the kid. For instance. When That Sam I Am won’t stop touching things at the grocery store, we revert to him holding onto the cart. His sphere of mobility diminishes considerably. It’s irrelevant that he is 10. If he can’t stop touching stuff, we remind him that his privileges are fewer.
When my teenager doesn’t seem to be functioning in the world, we pull him out of it. Rather than fro yo with friends, he gets Hallmark movies with mom. This is what I call a win/win because I am actually a quality time sort of girl. He also runs errands with me, organizes closets, plants flowers.
When my other teenager finds her rude words and is irritated at my existence, it’s clear to me that what she really needs is more time with me. She’s become the “out of sight out of mind” camp, and I need to get rid of that space before she begins to think it’s easier to just move on. Before she thinks our relationship is a thing of the past. I never want to only be part of her past. So, I dish out the punishment that she has to watch my favorite TV show with me anytime I want.
In the end, this punishment lasts for 6 months, but stops feeling less like a punishment and a lot more like a daughter and her mamma hanging out and cracking up in laughter at all of Chandler’s similarities to my own life awkwardness. I’ve embraced it.
Do you see what these punishments have in common? Me. They all have me in common. When our kids are going through it, they need us more. They need face time and faster redirection. They need to debrief and they need to be encouraged. They need to talk it over and come up with where they derailed and how to avoid that next time. Really, what they need is to continue to be loved, unconditionally, not shunning, while they handle the consequences.
A mom once told me that when your kids become teenagers, you simply pretend the one isn’t there and treat them like the age in their ones place. So my 14 year old. I still hug her and snuggle her next to my lap (I say next to my lap because she is nearing six feet tall.) My 15 year old boy? He still wants kisses goodnight and wrestling. My almost 12 year old. She still full on wants me to carry her sometimes. I can’t because I have chosen to develop my core with gluten free donut holes instead of sit-ups. But I love them like they are 4, 5, and 2. And they love it as much as they love the boundaries we have put into place.
Try it. Give it a whirl and get back to me. I would love to know how it’s going.
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