Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tough Love

It's really hard to discipline your kids sometimes.  You want everything to be pleasant, but that's not reality. 

My husband and I have been trying to figure out when to let something go or when to push a child and tell them, "You're doing it. It's not negotiable."

As our oldest son was expecting a new game in the mail that he had ordered, he suddenly didn't want to attend a camp out with the Scouts.  He was a patrol leader and I told him he needed to be an example and go.  He gave me lots of reasons he didn't want to and dug his heels in with his leader like he never had before.  There had been some problems with some of the boys, so after I talked to him, I realized it wasn't about them.  He just didn't want to go.

So my husband and I laid down the law.  "Your choices are to go on the camp out this weekend and play video games when you get back or you can go on a five mile hike with your dad and play no video games.  We'll let you choose.

He was mad.

But he eventually came to his senses, made the right decision, and even somewhat enjoyed himself.  Oh yes, we had also added that we would be asking his leader about his attitude on the trip and that would affect the video game part of the bargain.  This is some of the best teamwork my husband and I have ever engaged in. Go us!

Then there's our 4-year-old daughter.  She brought me some ingredients for cookies the other day and asked me to make some.  I told her, "I can make some later today, but first I have to clean the kitchen and teach some piano lessons."

"No, I want some now." she pouted.

I repeated that I couldn't do it now.  She wandered off to her room and tore up a bunch of her books.  She wailed that she tore them up because she wanted cookies now and was even more upset when I told her, "Well, they're garbage now.  And you're not getting any cookies today."

Oh, I was very tempted to make her cookies later anyway and see her smile, but I had to follow through, otherwise she'll learn that if she screams, throws a fit, pees her pants, damages things, etc., she'll get her way.  She later hit her brother for refusing to share his gum with her.  We had the following conversation

"Why should he share his gum with you?" 

"Because I want it." 

"Did he get it for his birthday?" 


"Is it yours?" 


"When it's your birthday next month, are you going to give him the gummy pizza you asked for?"


"Why not?" 

"Because it's mine."

"So you see why he doesn't want to share it with you?  You can ask him, but he can say no if he wants.  You don't get to hit him.  Now go say sorry."

Ah, if only this type of lesson only needed to be said once.  What are some of your tough love experiences? 

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