Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Creative Discipline

As you may know, Amelle is a child with an unusual disposition. For starters, she’s super-moody. …and I just can’t imagine where in the world she gets that horrific personality trait from (ahem)….must be Dirt. But she’s also very sensitive, in fact, I think her moodiness may actually stem from her hypersensitivity. For example, last month, we were at a fair and Amelle was enjoying some fried dough when a smiley old man jokingly said, ‘hey, your shoe lace is untied, want me to hold your fried dough while you tie it?” Of course, Amelle was in flip flops and the man was making a cute joke about stealing her fried dough. When I mentioned it to her a few minutes later she broke down and began sobbing….to the point where I needed to take the fried dough away from her and remove her from the grounds. Um..yeah.

Amelle has a lot of tricks; she’s like a cunning mood magician. She diverts attention and she manipulates her way out of things. In the morning, I tell her at least 10 times to brush her teeth, but half the time, she somehow gets out of the house without doing so. I don’t know how this happens.

Last week I noticed that her moods kicked into high gear while we were doing math homework. Homework, in general, seemed to trigger a mood attack. Dirt and I had to hold a parental debrief session, which went something like this: “We’re not going to take this anymore” “Why should she ruin our night?” “This is ridiculous – she’s small and we’re big”, “Yeah!”. As we began strategizing solutions, we realized that Amelle is a difficult child to punish. There are no “take-aways” that really matter. Amelle can live without TV, ipods, computers, going outside, just about anything, really. The only thing she really cares about is food, and I think it might be unlawful to take that away from her.

So then we started getting clever, we need to inflict punishment on her. Add ons. The ideas began coming fast and furious, “We’ll make her walk up and down stairs 10 times”, “how about 100 jumping jacks”, ‘how about standing in a corner…holding a book over her head”, “we can make her write her name 100 times…no, make her write her entire scripture until it’s memorized”…”yeah!”. “We’re the smartest parents ever!”, “I love you”, “I love you too”.

So the next day I informed the children that their father and I had decided on some strategies to encourage them to do their homework in a more cooperative manner. I shared some of our ideas with the kids and they agreed that they’d try to do better.

Last night, I received an e-mail from a blog-friend, Jillian, who shared some of these same creative disciplinary strategies with me. She has her kids walk up and down the stairs with their hands in the air – love that. And, she has another one that I love: the child who wrongs another child has to pick up a chore from the person he wronged. I am so going to use that one!

Feeling inspired, I informed Amelle that if she didn’t get going on her scripture, we were going to do some of the discipline techniques that we had discussed last week. (I had already asked her to do her scripture several times). She smiled and said, “What will I have to do?” (for punishment). I said, ‘Walk up and down the stairs 5 times with your hands in the air”. She smiled and proceeded to do the stairs, giggling the entire time. Then she said, “what next?” I said, “do your scripture”. Then she said, “What if I don’t?”. I said, “do 100 jumping jacks”. She gladly did her jumping jacks. Avery commented, “she’s going to lose weight”. Still smiling, she asked me what was next. I repeated, “do your scripture”. She said, “What if I don’t?”. “Stand in the corner with a book raised over your head with both hands until you’re ready to do your scripture”. Within 3 minutes she was working on her scripture.

Once she memorized her scripture she was free to go play. But she didn’t. She sat at the kitchen table writing something. I didn’t pay any attention to what she was doing because she had completed her school work and was quiet.

Fifteen minutes later she arrived at my side telling me that her hand hurt from writing so much. She held up a completely filled sheet of lined paper; she had inflicted yet another punishment on herself! She wrote her entire scripture!

What kind of child is this?


Jillian and Crew said...

Your in trouble....*smile*

Morgan Yisak is smart and clever and "bring it on!" type too...it is exhausting...but I do believe he is harder on himself than I coudl ever be where it really counts.

He has not had to do one of Parker Yared's chores in about 4 days- THATS HUGE!

Doing someone else's chore and being the 1st in bed are the WORST punishments for him, like seriously "evil" parenting :)

Jillian and Crew said...

PS Love the "parent conference" dialog!

Shannon- said...

LOVE THOSE! Great job momma.

My first thought- answering your question "what kind of child is this?" An exceptional one. Is she not being challenged enough? Could be bored (lack of challenge)? Could be testing limits? Sounds like BOTH.

(Don't forget this is the 'no-kids- home- yet-shannon)

Shannon- said...

OH- totally loved the "it may be unlawful" comment. Totally dig the sarcasm!!

MaineMom said...

I think if you gave the other two kids a snack/treat ("going for ice cream") and she doesn't get one/go for said ice cream, that would be tough for her.

Or, make her hold an ice cube in her hand. That one is tough!

Grandma said...

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!