I’m gonna change my approach a little here, start making these things short and sweet.
So this second one of those will be on this idea here: if you don’t punish, what are your strategies? What works for you? So a couple of thoughts:
What does “works,” mean, first? I think the question usually means something specific, is that right, how do you feed them, how do you get them in the car, what to do if they’re covered in excrement and won’t get in the tub? Well, those are valid questions, and no waiting, you got me. I have no guaranteed way to get them dressed and off to daycare, at least none I would recommend and none everybody doesn’t already know.
Frankly, it drove us a little crazy too, my wife and I were raised in families where kids got whooped and our input wasn’t often requested. We invented it, this No Punishment of Any Sort thing, at least in our lives, but losing half the disputes with our toddlers and seeing what we “let our kids do and get away with,” surprise, that wasn’t easy for us, just as many folks might imagine it wouldn’t be. OK, we saw it once, and we reverse-engineered it. Credit to you, Yvonne and Gord, but sorry – no royalties. Not greedy, and not a legal issue – there simply are no royalties! This stuff is free. J
I mean, we missed things, late for Christmas dinner at Grandma’s, we lost things, dishes, toy, electronics, things were damaged and destroyed, carpets – the younger girl teethed on the backs of our teak dining room chairs . . . they’re all just things, I know, furnishings, my mother in-law’s feelings. We were lucky, nothing important got hurt. 😉
If you can commit to no punishment of any sort – I write elsewhere and soon will again on the “any sort” part. Short version: nothing we might do to them because they won’t like it, which is a good definition for punishment – if you commit to that, then your only options are the loving ones, the patient ones, the ones that don’t always work. Specifically, we talked endlessly, we distracted, we may have even bribed – and we failed, and stuff got broken and we rarely kept to any schedule we had planned. We said “Yes” to the kids whenever possible and less yes to ourselves and the world of grownups generally. Some old-time sacrifice? Maybe, but only for the first five years, and sacrifice in the best sense, the kind with a long term payoff.
Admittedly, we tried harder and probably made more mistakes (meaning that once or twice we did something that worked) for things like work and doctors’ appointments than for other things, but even those things didn’t always go the way we or Grandma or our employers might have wanted. This because, sorry to say, what “works” in some examples, especially where safety is an issue, is OK, but something that “works” all the time, something guaranteed, well that requires punishment because if your decisions are hard-line, then soft-line methods will not achieve them. Still, even so, it’s only guaranteed in the short term.
Honestly, just as they say punishments and corporal punishments are short term solutions but increase long term social problems including misbehaviour, so equally and oppositely is not punishing not a short term solution, but a long term one.
Since my girls could talk and converse, maybe at five years of age, neither of them have given us a reason why even a good side of normal North American family might ever feel the need to punish them. Those first several years were high-energy times, however, and many things, carpets, etc., were damaged or destroyed, I want impress upon you that I’m not lying to you, not trying to sell you something that works in the short term, it sure didn’t. Sure did in the long term, though, at least all through the years from five to twenty.
July 19, 2015