I am not the person I used to be….

Standard
Discipline

Discipline the behaviour, never the child.

As you saw from my last entry, my views have changed a great deal and my knowledge in the field of pregnancy, infant and child care has increased dramatically.  But that’s only part of the changes.  Internally I’ve gone from someone who can’t hold her own in a discussion, who was afraid to speak up, who lacked the confidence in herself to just trust her gut feelings to someone who can bring valid, respected information to the table, who can stand up for what I feel is right and trust my own instincts.  Now I’ve taken it a step further and I’m using my writing skills to share what I’ve learned so far, while I continue to learn and build on the foundation I’ve created for myself, all the while sharing that journey, even the slip ups, of which I’m sure there will be many, with anyone who will listen.

This past week my new skills and knowledge were tested, and I believe it was my added confidence in the fact that I know what I’m doing is right that brought things to a successful remediation of the issues.

My 17-year-old has some mental health issue that make him difficult to parent.  One of those behaviours involves a lack of self-control and it has a way of getting him in trouble.  Suffice to say there was an incident this past week that put my husband over the edge.  In the past my husband would’ve meted out the first punishment that went through his head in that moment of anger and frustration, and rarely are those punishments reasonable or fair.  Thankfully he had to leave for work, so he took his anger and frustration to work with him, while I did some investigative work and checked in with my son’s social worker at his school who has been helping to bridge the gap between the initial crisis this past Fall and us getting into Family Services for more intensive counselling.

The evening of the incident was blissfully quiet thankfully and the next day I made some last-minute arrangements with my brother and his wife to watch the younger children while my husband and I went out for lunch to discuss the issues.

Normally in the past my husband is the more dominant player and I go into shut down mode the minute he challenges me or my ideas.  Now that my confidence levels have improved I can hold my own, I can explain myself better and I can negotiate a compromise that is acceptable to both of us. In the end I think we came away from that lunch with a very good plan, and a fair decision for disciplining our 17-year-old’s recent behaviour.

Personally for me, the experience felt amazing and boosted my confidence tremendously.  I won’t lie I was on cloud nine over the final outcome.  We had a concrete plan to deal with a problem and we’re also hoping with family support my husband and I will be able to have more regular alone time to check in with each other and work towards solutions on various issues.  Now that I’ve found my voice, I’m hoping that we’ll actually be able to make some good decisions that will have a lasting impact on our family and our relationships with each other.

Also, in case you didn’t pick up on it, my wording through this post changed.  When I first described the incident, I referred to punishing my 17-year-old whereas by the time I got to the end of the story, we were disciplining the behaviour.  That distinction is incredibly significant.  When you take the first approach it breeds only resentment and anger.  The second approach targets the behaviour only so the discipline is easier to mete out and follow for both parties.  It’s why no matter the situation, a child should never be punished or disciplined through anger.  Take a step back, take a deep breath and once you are calm again and thinking rationally, come up with an acceptable action for disciplining the behaviour and never the child.  In fact, it’s often a good idea to assure the child that you love them and there’s nothing they can ever do that will change that.

This past week’s challenge with my oldest and my husband proved to me that this is the right way to manage these situations and if we continue managing them in this way, our children will be much happier, and so will we.

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