Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Discipline Vs. Control–Part 2

Welcome back! Hope your Super Bowl pick won. If it was the Falcons, I truly feel for you and them. Most. Amazing. Comeback. Ever. And what a catch by #11 Julian Edelman–I mean, how was that catch even possible???

Belief.  Drive. Determination. Motivation. Grit. (A miracle or two doesn’t hurt either…)

That’s what won Super Bowl LI for the New England Patriots.

And those same qualities are what parent(s) need to apply to “the journey.”

person-red-sport-game-football

www.pexels.com

Anyway, this should have run last week, but I somehow messed up scheduling the post. Hope you’ve had some time to digest last post’s discussion and are ready to delve in a little further!

Disclaimer: Please remember, these are my thoughts on these concepts, based on my parenting experiences. I do not equate myself with the title “expert.” I do, however, hope to be of service to others sharing this journey, by relating my experiences and what I’ve gleaned from them to date. (Not sure we’ll ever be out of the trenches, and that’s okay too! 🙂 )

I ended last time with this thought: Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in the process of discipline.

Back to Dictionary.com: Respect has multiple definitions, but I chose those that apply to this essay.

As a noun, respect is (1) esteem for, or a sense of, the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability; (2) deference to a right, privilege, privileged position.

As a verb: (1) to hold in esteem or honor; (2) to show regard, or consideration for (i.e., someone’s rights); (3) to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with (i.e., a person’s privacy).

I won’t declare I’ve always practiced respect in all my parenting decisions. I can’t aver that I inherently understood what it means to show regard for my children’s needs. I am, however, blessed by having internalized early on that a little person (and/or an older child) does have feelings that need to be considered.

This notion hit me very clearly one day, when my older son was about eight months old. We were on some multi-errand run and probably on, at the very least, our sixth stop. This means the little guy had already been dragged in and out of his car seat eleven times. Now mind you, my mini-man had always been fine with being in the swing or bouncer or stroller for as long as I needed him to be or was willing to go.  As I strapped him in for time number twelve, he started crying.

Chances are, I was initially irritated with his reaction, but luckily, compassion clicked in and it hit me: This boy is tired. He’s had enough and shouldn’t be subjected to dealing with his mother’s inability to slow down.

I’ve read parenting books—God knows, they abound—and then beat myself up over not being a ‘good mom’ because I couldn’t make the ideals depicted in those books happen. Luckily for me, a close friend (and mom) often reminded me that if there were ONE way that worked, there’d be a lot less books on the topic. (My favorite: Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate, by Elizabeth Pantley. I also remember browsing a bit through George M. Kapalka’s Parenting Your Out-of-Control Child: An Effective, Easy-to-Use Program for Teaching Self-Control. Thought I might gain some wisdom for dealing with my younger, somewhat anxious, reactive and much-more-of-a-challenge son. BTW, if anyone is interested, he’s often available through Lent. I’ve been known to give that one up every now and again. 😉 )

fullsizerender-1

Back to my point:

I learned, by reading those parenting books, that discipline is a form of teaching, as well as a form of living.

My job is not to make my kids do what I say (controlling), but to guide them to make the best choice available at any given moment (discipline).

Hopefully, they’ll exercise good judgment up front. If not, one could hope they take advantage of the ‘opportunity to learn,’ assuming the consequences of their action(s) aren’t overly devastating or life threatening in any way. (Elizabeth Pantley deals with how to use natural consequences—or create logical ones—very nicely in her book.)

This segues me to the old adage, Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

When I fight for my way, or for that instant response to what I tell my kids to do–for no other reason beyond I want my way (Gasp! Controlling again!)– I’m not teaching them to fish. By guiding them to make wise choices today, I can only hope to be laying a foundation to make even wiser choices as they get older, especially when they’re in a position to make (big) decisions without someone more experienced at their side.

We’ll pick up next time with the fruits of discipline.

Any thoughts on all this so far? What have you learned on your journey relative to authority and kids? No, you don’t have to be a parent to join the discussion. All kinds of interactions count (i.e., those of teachers, psychologists, baby sitters, etc), so don’t be shy!

With you on the journey,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, 2017, content and images (unless otherwise specified).

 

 

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Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Uncategorized

Respond Vs. React (or Why Are You So Dumb?–Part 3)

Welcome back, all. Between less structured summer days and a laptop that needs a li’l TLC, I’m feeling a bit disorganized and out of sorts. Please forgive my delay in getting this post up. As always, I’m hoping all is well with all of you.

happy garden spot
The sunflowers in my yard have morphed into perennials. No complaints from me. 😀

The happiness of most people is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.— Ernest Dimnet…(from Don Charisma’s awesome blog–EVERYONE should take a minute and check it out. Just sayin’ 🙂 )

This is a great segue into where we left off last time. We were discussing shaming children in public, the possible consequences and a more positive way of responding (vs. reacting) to an incident I observed while standing in line at my supermarket. (Read Part 1 and Part 2, if you so desire, and please remember to come back! 🙂 )

The night before I wrote this post, I was doing a little cleaning on my enclosed front porch, killing some time while I waited to pick up Younger Son at a friend’s. Outside, the wind had picked up, strong enough to rattle the windows.

Behind me, I heard a loud thump. Attributing it to the wind, I turned toward the (glass) front door and startled BIG-TIME to a face behind the door.

Younger Son had gotten a ride home, saw me from outside and decided to have some fun.

“Please don’t do that again,” I heard myself say, in a calm voice that belied the heart beating and the short breaths going on underneath.

Okay, this didn’t take place in public, but I realized practicing my response over the years—with my guys, and with my school kids (lots of opportunities for practice there 😉 )—helped me to not react. (“Are you out of your ________ mind?” Are you stupid, crazy…?”)

I’m far from perfect, but it’s easier to lose one’s cool when one is behind closed doors–when no witnesses are around. If one has managed one’s behaviors under those circumstances, one can hope to have it even more together out in the world.

Here is an effective way to practice: next time your child does something outlandish that catches you off-guard…(drum roll, please…)

Do.

NOTHING.

What????

Okay, so do this instead: take a step back and then survey the situation.

Honestly, unless your child is in immediate and/or imminent physical danger….

Do. Nothing.

While you’re “doing nothing:”

Get your bearings.

Replay the scene in your head,

Imagine how you might handle the situation via more positive words, actions, etc.

If you need to, write down exactly what you want to say.

Rehearse it.

(Replaying the scene and scripting your response has its place—pinky-swear!)

Once you feel confident–or at least have an idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it, go to your child and address the issue.

“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Experience you’d like to share? Please feel free to do so in the comments, or by contacting me privately. You never know who you might help by putting your story out there.

Have a wonderful day and many thanks for your time,

Joanne

© Joanne C Timpano, content and images. All rights reserved. Continue reading “Respond Vs. React (or Why Are You So Dumb?–Part 3)”

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Why Are You So Dumb?! (Part 2)

Welcome back. As always, thank you for your time and support!

Congrats to Older Son and his girl--Class of 2015 high school graduates! 
Congrats to Older Son and his girl–Class of 2015 high school graduates!

Last time, we ended on how children might learn from shaming and belittling them (in public or otherwise–catch up with Part One here.).

Like everything else—in terms of action and reaction—shaming and belittling don’t lack for consequences.

What shaming and belittling do, IMHO, is:

• hurt a child’s sense of self-worth. Self-esteem drops. The child is put in a position to question his/her capability and/or intelligence.

• plant seeds of resentment (toward the parent and/or other authority figures, present and/or future):  If treating him/her like that is the norm, what are the chances those seeds won’t wind up taking root and flourishing under a consistent diet of negativity and being put down?

• lay the groundwork for negative patterns: What are the chances that child will grow up to shame his/her children?

Reacting to what kids do is easy. Our impulses take over, our brains go on break and we want to say or do whatever responses—verbal and/or physical—the child’s action evokes.

Responding, on the other hand, takes practice. That means making a conscious effort to do any—and probably ALL of the following:

Stop.

  • Take a step back.
  • Think about NOT saying or doing that reflex action, and…
  • Carefully choose our verbal and/or physical answers to our kids.

Responding is a SKILL that can be cultivated. It takes awareness of one’s tendency to react, a conscious desire to change that tendency to react and practice.

Empathy (i.e., identifying with how someone else feels) can be key to responding vs. reacting. Putting ourselves on the receiving end of our actions, (i.e., imagining our kids’ feelings and possible reactions to what we say and do), can go a long way to helping us be more positive in our responses.

Finally: It’s easy to assume kids understand the direction(s) we give. (Asking them to repeat the direction is a great way to be sure.)

Here is how I might have handled the boy at the supermarket:

Assuming he was of average or better intelligence, restating what I wanted him to do—in simple, concrete words and a calm voice—would have sufficed. “Henry, I asked you to stand in line until I got back.”

With specific words—and a normal voice—I also would have shown the “consequence” of not having followed the direction. “Now we’ll have to wait at the end of the line.”

Henry probably would have understood his error—that he hadn’t fully comprehended his parent’s directive—and the natural consequence of his action (or lack of it).

One more thing to consider: Henry wouldn’t have been publicly shamed. Chances are, he will most likely remember to stand in line next time and won’t resent the person admonishing him.

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
―William James 
(Psst! Waiting in line isn’t a catastrophe. It’s an inconvenience. Just MHO.  😉  )

Another thought: “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29

So how might you have handled “Henry’s” situation? Have you found yourself in a similar one with your child, or someone else’s child? Do you throw in your two cents if you’re within earshot of someone dealing with a child in a negative manner? All comments and thoughts are welcome! (And if you’re shy, you can always email me via my CONTACT page.)

I’ll dedicate a future post or two to specific examples of how  a parent or authority figure can respond vs. react, i.e., deal with a child in a more positive way.

Have a great day, everyone!

Joanne

© Joanne C Timpano, content and images. All rights reserved.

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, recipes, Reflections

“Why Are You So Dumb?” (Part 1)

Hi everyone. Please excuse my lack of posts since Mother’s Day. It’s been a busy past month. School begins its wind-down and the rush to last-minute paperwork on.

banana n almond butter
Easiest breakfast ever: sliced banana with a drizzle of almond butter. Pair with (almond) milk for a gluten-free, super-energizing, no-cook start to the day!

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. William James 

I was waiting in line at the food market the other day. A boy—maybe about 10 (?) years of age—was standing next to me. He was looking toward the back of the store, and appearing a hair uncertain.

A woman—perhaps his mother or grandmother (?)—approached him, glanced at the line, then at him.

“Why are you so dumb?” Her raised voice and annoyed tones conveyed her frustration—and turned the heads of anyone nearby.

(I’ll surmise the boy should have been keeping the woman’s place in line.)

The folks ahead of me must have thought the same. They offered to let the boy back in. No harm. No foul.

Someone must have commented about there being no problem. The woman, however, maintained her (mild) indignation, and her right to admonish the boy. “He has to learn.”

People, I had to bite my tongue. The woman might have been old-school. She had an accent, which suggests culture might have influenced the way she addressed the boy. She also might truly believe she was acting out of love.

As I wrote this, I had to wonder: If shaming that child in public was her way of “teaching” him, how does she deal with him behind closed doors?

I don’t consider myself an expert at anything, folks. I do, however, care deeply about how others feel, children in particular.

I suppose belittling and shaming, publicly or privately, might get a child’s attention. Will they “learn” from the experience?

Maybe.

Chances are, the child will remember feeling embarrassed more than s/he remembers the infraction.

But like everything else—in terms of action and reaction—shaming and belittling don’t lack for consequences.

We’ll pick this up next time.

Joanna

Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting

What’s My Motivation? (Part Two)

Welcome back and thank you again for your time and support.

Summary of Part One: Younger Son was two hours shy of his Saturday basketball league’s first game. His brand-new, unused sneakers didn’t fit. I had gotten him that new pair about two months prior, at his request. He wanted to go to the store to make an exchange, two hours prior to the start of his game.

Dad honored Younger Son’s request AFTER I turned him down.

As I stated in Part One, had I been the only available parent, Younger Son would not have made it to the store that Saturday—but not because I wanted to make a point or zing him with the lesson.

My main motivation for not taking him to the store was honest. At that moment in time, I wasn’t in a position to do so.

Mind you, I’m still not completely sure about Dad driving him, but that was Dad’s decision to make. (We both try to be highly supportive of all—appropriate—choices Younger Son makes relative to physical activity. He struggles with his weight and used to be much more of a sedentary kid.)

What I’m saying is, I didn’t want my decision to be made out of spite or resentfulness that my son hadn’t “listened to Mom” the first time. (That’s about my ego, which we can discuss another time.) More occasions for shoe-buying will come up, and I can use this experience/life lesson as a gentle reminder behind a (firm) decision on my part that we’ll wait before picking up that next pair too far ahead of time.

Here’s a flip-side to that coin: Kids are pretty savvy. Most of them get ‘the bigger picture,’ and can read into a parent’s actions. They’re also pretty good at picking up the vibe(s) underscoring them.

Chances are (there are no guarantees here), if Younger Son sees my decision was made out of honesty and not b/c I wanted to assert my authority out of the motivations I listed above, he will be less oppositional and/or resentful of not getting his way. Fingers crossed—he will be more willing to heed his parent’s advice next time.

If he wants something that badly though, he might still put up a fuss. He is human, and as far from perfect as the rest of us. But he—like each of us—is a work-in-progress. And a lot of those life lessons are beginning to add up to a pretty likable 16-year-old. (Well, most of the time, anyway!)

Any thoughts on how Dad and I handled this? Would you have taken your child to the store? How might you have reacted to his or her request in a similar situation? Have you ever taken the time to examine the motive(s) behind the choices you make where your child(ren) are concerned?

I so appreciate your feedback. Please post comments and experiences below. I love questions too! Let’s make this site a community gathering place where we help each other by not being shy. (For those who are shy, you can always send an email via my CONTACT ME page.)

Enjoy your weekend,

Joanne

© Joanne C Timpano. All rights reserved.

Posted in Commitment, Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, School-related, Uncategorized

When You Take That Step Back… (Part Two)

Welcome back, and thank you again for your time! I hope you find something that will make your parenting journey even a hair easier.

If you’re here for the first time, you might want to catch up by reading Part One.

And here is where we left off last time: Younger Son is on a journey toward commitment to football, but not to his grades.

Football Xbox school

I’ll tell you true, folks, the boy is no stellar student. Not that I expect him to be an honors man, but a little effort here and there would be nice, especially when it comes time to studying for quizzes and tests, and especially since he gets a decent return when he takes a whole 15 or 20 minutes to look over his study guide nightly a few days before a test. (Homework isn’t an issue. He gets that done, usually w/o a hitch and w/o help, reminders, etc.)

Long story short, I had to bite the bullet and step back when it came to freshman algebra. He was in danger of failing—and not having the necessary credits to play football come fall. I gave frequent reminders to pull out the material, do five measly practice problems a night, employ his older brother/math whiz for help as needed, go to teacher for extra help, etc.

The result? Viva la resistance. The only time he studied is when I hid the X-box controller. (Remember the high interest and motivation I talked about in the previous post? The grand irony: only the controller he liked went missing. He couldn’t be bothered playing with either of the other two sitting next to his unit. “But I didn’t do anything!” he wails when he notices its absence. “Exactly,” Mom says. Then he’ll pull out his notes and come back, pleased as punch to claim an 82 on his Social Studies test. See what I mean?)

Anyway, I finally decided to stop “necking,” as he tends to say. In other words, if he failed algebra, he failed algebra. He wasn’t taking direction from me or his dad, and life lessons tend to stick better anyway, or so says MHO. (Besides, as a freshman, he has three years to make it up. I figured if he loved the class so much the first time, why not sit through it another year? Or, better yet: rather than sleep late during vacation, he can get up every morning for summer school then go to football practice. 0:-).

I also checked with his guidance counselor to find out if he has the credits to play next year. Somehow, I wound up getting a call from the supervisor of the phys-ed and athletics department.

I gave her some background on my guy and his lack of commitment to studying.

God (Universe, Higher Power, etc) provided the EXACT answer and direction I needed. The supervisor advised me to direct Younger Son to her office the following week. “In cases like this, I have the kids bring me their work on a weekly basis. If grades aren’t up to par, they’re not allowed to play.”

Woot! Younger Son will have to be accountable to someone other than his ma, his pa and himself. He enjoys pleasing teachers, coaches, etc, he likes (as long as the effort he has to put in isn’t overwhelming).

Being able to play and not be benched or not allowed on the team might be just the carrot that needs to be dangled in front of him to get him to commit to his schoolwork a tad more.

And mamma doesn’t have to be the studying enforcer.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and be open to different ways a situation can work itself out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how life jumps in and gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you get out of the way, let life take over and see where it takes you? Have you ever gotten what you need exactly when you need it? Please feel free to share about your experiences in the comments. And if you feel comment-shy, don’t hesitate to send me a private message via my CONTACT ME page.

Have a great day everyone!

Joanne

 

Copyright © 2014 Joanne C Timpano. All Rights Reserved (content and images) .