Hello, folks, and welcome to May! One post at a time, I am getting these out to you. Thank you for your patience! For those who are new here (or feeling the need to catch up), here are links to predecessor posts: one, two and three.
So let’s pick up where we left up last time: doing what I have to do without worrying about what someone else might think of my parenting skills.
Remember: It’s paramount that a kid knows a parent means business.
A parent who means business doesn’t necessarily have to force the issue*, nor does that parent have to be mean or angry to show s/he is serious about what s/he is expecting from a child.
A great mantra to keep in the back of your brain:
Say what you mean. Mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.
Also: Unless the discipline a parent chooses is abusive (mentally, emotionally and/or physically), a parent should just toss what others think out the nearest window.
Case in point: When Older Son was in preschool, he tended to dawdle when it came time to get dressed. Being the perfect parent I was, I remember doing my fair share of yelling one morning. I needed to get Younger Son to nursery school, Older Son to school and me to work. (Luckily, I worked in the same building where Older Son attended preschool.)
The next day, I kept him home. He wasn’t feeling well.
Day after that, he was well enough to return to school. He so took his time getting ready. I decided I would not shout or make a scene.
Time came to leave the house. Older Son was pretty much taken aback when I handed him his shoes. I very calmly told him we had to go. When he said something about not being dressed, I told him we had no time. He’d used his time playing rather than getting ready. (Not sure how he got his shoes over his footie PJs, but he did. And I’m lucky. He was never much of a tantrum-throwing child. Now that Younger Son kid…let’s not go there.)
So we dropped off Younger Son, which meant Older Son had to walk into the nursery school in his PJs. When he mentioned something about PJs and school, I reiterated that he hadn’t gotten dressed when he had the time.
Once we got to his preschool, I took him to the nurse’s office. Told my boy the nurse needed to see him since he’d been sick the day prior. (Fine, I fibbed. There was a much greater cause at stake.)
In the nurse’s office, I handed Dawdle Boy a set of clothing I’d bagged on the sly. I told him any future episodes would not come with a back-up outfit. He’d be in PJs for the day.
I kid you not, friends. From that day forward, I have never, ever had a problem with that boy not being dressed for school.
A few years later, I told this story to a parent whose four-year-old was giving grief on a regular basis. On many occasions, the parent complained that Little Cutie, who stood thigh-high, wouldn’t get dressed; at school we saw that manifested in how late that child arrived every day. (Mind you, other circumstances might have impacted the child’s behavior. Our conversations, however, showed me that parent wasn’t willing to stand up to Little Cutie’s behavior.) That parent’s jaw dropped, horror-struck, when I revealed I brought Older Son to school in PJs.
That parent was most likely worried about what someone else would think if Little Cutie came to school in PJs.
Did I abuse my son in any way? Not at all. He was warm and covered appropriately for the season. I didn’t yell or force him to do anything.
I did, however, show him I meant business.
*Quick note: Bullying takes on many forms. We who are trying to ‘teach our children to do the right thing’ by ‘making’ them do what we say might have to watch going over a fine line. (Trust me, I’ve gone over it too—many times. Younger kids—and those older ones who just love pushing buttons will tip you over that line themselves.)
Do you recall a a particular moment when you took a parenting stand, especially one that involved potential judgment by other parents and/or adults? Please feel free to share your story here in the comments. Feeling bold? Tell it on Facebook or on the social media platform of choice. If you’re shy, we have email for that. And if the content speaks to you, please feel free to share via any/all of the links below!
Next time: Dealing with MY feelings when doling out the discipline.
Many thanks and wishes for a wonderful day,
©Joanne C Timpano, OTR/L, content and images, unless otherwise specified, 2019.