Posts Tagged ‘discipline’

In this installment, I find out how long it takes for a three-year-old who is used to adults cleaning up after him to do it himself.  It is pretty ugly.

This afternoon just before lunch, my almost-three-year-old stood on a table and dumped out about six plastic containers of toys onto the floor.  Then he tossed all the pillows off the sofa.  His cousin was there with him. He got excited and dumping stuff was fun.  It wasn’t anything mischievous or foul, just his thing.  99% of the time someone cleans up for him.  This time (and a few times in the past) I asked him to clean up his own mess.  I resolved that I would wait him out no matter how long it took.  I wanted to see how long he could hold out before putting up the white flag and beginning to clean up…. (more…)


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I think one of those moments when parents earn their stripes is when they have to choose between punishing their child for a screw up or allowing the experience of the screw up serve as the punishment. Take, for example, my daughter in fifth grade who let a monthly book report assignment go until the night before it was due and then stayed up past 2 a.m. last night to finish it.  Should she be punished for procrastinating or is going to school on five and a half hours of sleep punishment enough?

A few weeks ago, my eight year old got himself into a similar bind and I told him to go to bed and suffer the consequences of turning in unfinished homework.  But last night when my daughter found herself in the exact same situation, I called my wife (who works nights) asked her not to say anything when she comes home and sees her daughter sitting in her room working way past bed time. I am playing a double-standard but I had my reasons:

I wanted to see how she would handle the pickle she put herself in; would she leave the assignment undone in order to get some sleep and take the worse grade, or would she stay up super-late, do good work and get the higher grade but go to school bleary-eyed and sleepy the next night? I wasn’t sure which way it would go. Neither my wife nor I yelled at her or said anything. We gave her the space to do whatever she was going to do without her parents input.

Here’s what happened: (more…)

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I have four kids aged 2 to 11, three of them are at their prime “play date” years, and the two older ones have their own cellphones (which means they can organize their own play dates and only need to secure parental approval at the final step).  As a result, we have hordes of kids over almost every day.  In fact, we should replace our front door with a revolving door and a click counter to keep track of the foot traffic going in and out.  Occasionally either my child or one of their friends gets a nutty idea in their head and something boneheaded happens. That is just kids being kids.  My daughter once complained to me after a birthday party that her friends trashed her bedroom.  Another time, one of my kids’ friends ate nine popsicles during a sleepover.  This is an inevitability.  So what to do?

I think there is only one way to handle it: that is, hold your children responsible for the actions of their friends.

On the scale of parenting maneuvers, this particular move carries a high level of difficulty. We all know it is hard enough to get kids to clean up after themselves.  Getting them to clean up after their friends is even more difficult.  But the most difficult of all is teaching your kids to control their friends so that messes never materialize in the first place.  As hard as it might be for parents to teach this lesson, it is infinitely harder for kids to implement it.  I was a kid a mere three decades ago, and I still remember how difficult it is to say to your friends, “That is a dumb idea so let’s not do it.” (more…)

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If you could buy a magic wand that could potty train your child in just one day, how much would you pay?  This magic wand will save you a pile of wet underwear, save you a mess of yellow and brown stains on the carpet, and put an end to those trips to the public bathroom at the shopping mall to change another diaper.  But what if the magic wand came in the shape of a paddle that for one day only spanked your child’s butt each time they wet in their pants, would you still want it?

I have a friend who claims she potty-trained her two-year-old daughter in one day.  How did she do it, I asked.  “I spanked her,” she said. (more…)

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Greetings to those who read my piece in the USA Today and went looking for my blog.  I originally wrote the Hooters post a  few weeks ago and it is buried in my archives, but I’ll save you the scrolling and put it Here.  Below is the picture:

The Hooters picture.  My son is the one on the right.

The Hooters picture. My son is the one on the right.

But don’t believe the hype.  Blogging about red meat topics like Hooters is not what I usually do.  For those of you in the market for some interesting parenting stories and lessons about raising infants up to pre-teens, I have compiled my Greatest Hits with a thumbnail description culled from my 40+ posts in the past three months:

1) The time I had my kids talk to their great-grandpa about the Great Depression.

2) How to reduce your child’s crying

3) How hard to push your child into competitive sports

4) How to win the discipline war with your kids

5) Why a 10-year-old needs a cellphone

6) Using chores and allowance to instill a work ethic and saving money.

7) Dump your stroller

8.) Two simple tests you can run on your 4-year-old that researchers believe are keys to future success here and here. Also, looking for clues in the crib.

9) The key to being an effective parent.

10) What Happens when even good parenting isn’t enough

11) Kids, Videogames and self-control

12) Peeing in a trashcan. One of my favorite funny stories.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog, and leave a comment if the mood strikes you.  If you work your way through my grammatical errors and weak lines of argument, and sift out a nugget of two of useful information to apply to your own children, then I am happy.

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Like many parents, I have tucked my children into bed only to have them come out of their room minutes later for all manner of reasons, real and invented.  Forgot to pee.  Thirsty.  Itchy pajamas. Fan too loud. Bug in room.  Monster under bed.  Et cetera.

One night I decided this had to stop. I had each kid one-by-one raise their hand and repeat after Daddy…”I, (insert name here), promise not to come out of the room for any reason until morning.” My daughter, 7 at the time, then wrote down on a piece of paper the official “Rules for Sleep” which she taped on the bedroom door.  It said, “You must stay in the room after Daddy tucks you in and kisses you good night unless you have diarrhea or have to vomit.”

My younger son, who was four at the time, one night forgot to go to the bathroom before bedtime.  He dutifully followed my rules to the letter, remained inside the bedroom and urinated in the trash can next to his sister’s bed.

Sometimes Daddy’s rules work too well.

Just a picture I like to break up the text on the blog.

Just a picture I like to break up the text on the blog.

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I got a lot of comments for my post a few weeks ago on disciplining children, so I wrote this installment today after my four-year-old nephew beaned my daughter in the head with a pine cone.  I was ready to laugh it off and move on.  But when confronted, my nephew lied about who threw it.  A moment later, he lied again and said that his Mommy had said it was okay to throw things.  The well-aimed pine cone I could forgive, but the lies warranted some kind of response.  I sent him to sit in the corner of the playground for an undefined length of time that turned out to be about 10 minutes.  I let him re-join us after he apologized to my daughter and explained to me why he was being punished.  He cited the pine cone but not the lying for his punishment, which is indicative of how difficult it can be to teach this important lesson in truth-telling to a little kid.

We all know that kids do stuff that results in something being spilt, broken, or getting dirty.  It is frustrating but expected, and in my book a mild scolding is all that is warranted.  But most all kids in the 3 to 5 year old range will at some time or another try out a lie or two to escape the scolding that they know is coming.  They blame someone else or make up some other little lie rather than face up to the truth.  Lying—even if it is deployed to cover up a small crime—deserves a some kind of a punishment in my book.  However in my daily life as a parent, I find myself doling out a scolding for the toy left in the rain but forget to punish the thing that is really a crime: lying about who left it there.

Another fine example: years ago my oldest son–who has always been a slow eater with a small appetite– claimed to have a tummy ache from eating half a bowl of oatmeal.  I told him that I took his word for it that he was sick and to put his bowl in the sink.  Though I couldn’t prove it, I suspected he was faking and I tried to smoke him out.  So as he hauled his aching belly to his room to recuperate, I told my two other kids that I was taking them on a surprise outing to the waterpark (this occurred in Jakarta and the waterpark was near our house and very cheap).  Before the car could leave the driveway, my sick son experienced a miraculous recovery.  He, of course, admitted to the lie.  I sent him back to his room to think it over and took the other two to the waterpark even though the trip would have been much more fun with all three kids.  I determined that the best way to get him to stop faking an illness was to make it costly to get caught.

The bottom line here is that while you may be annoyed as hell at your kid’s antics, most of it is just a kid being a kid.  But if there is to be no tolerance for lying to Mom and Dad, then it is up to you to make that clear.  This is about trust between parent and child.  And you need your kids to develop into habitual truth-tellers before they enter the teenage years and get into the type of trouble that cannot be fixed with a simple fib.

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