I have a 6-year-old kid. And kids do crazy things that get themselves into trouble. But I find that I am now having a hard time coming up with proper and effective ways to discipline my daughter when she does something I do not favor.
Let me give you an example. My daughter recently picked up the habit of holding spit bubbles in her mouth and rolling them around with her tongue. Well, I find this nasty. Here I am trying to talk with her and she’s not able to answer me because she has to swallow the tablespoon of spit she has let collect. Or I look around the room and lovingly gaze at the profile of my daughter (if you knew me, you would immediately tag this for the exaggeration that it is) before she turns toward me and reveals the spasmodic seizure bubbles she’s harboring in her mouth! Again, it’s just nasty.
So I have tired myself of gently chiding her about it, which then moved to yelling at her about it, which graduated to threats of doing something about it, until I had to come up with some form of discipline. Well, what the heck kind of discipline is a parent to dish out for a spit-hoarder? What kind of punishment fits that crime?! I threatened the discipline so of course I had to follow through with it and create one. But when it came time to, I lacked all imagination.
In talking with friends, I have found that I am not the only person finding stress in this area. One friend has three boys, and says she will make them do exercises as a form of discipline. Didn’t clean the kitchen? 50 push-ups. Forgot to take out the trash? 15 suicides in the backyard and so on. I actually like this idea. But call me a feminist (believe me, I am not) because I felt like this was great–but more so for boys. Does that make sense? No. Because my daughter would actually hate to do any form of exercise. It would probably be the perfect route to take. But then I would have to stand there and watch her do it all. To ensure she actually finishes the allotted chore. So, whereas I have not taken this off the table of ideas, I still have not implemented it into my repertoire. (Yes, I’m lazy.)
I have another friend who takes away all electronics from her girls and sends them to their room. This worked until she found them cuddled up reading books to each other and enjoying themselves. Under normal circumstances, this would be a parent’s dream–bickering children now playing in harmony. But not when you are trying to teach a lesson. So she next had to say no to books–including coloring books. She reminded them that this forced quiet time was to be used to reflect on ways to be better and all that kind of parental garbage talk that we do. Well, she now finds them in their rooms fast asleep! Maybe they are dreaming of their abhorrent acts and of ways to make it up to their parents upon awakening. Though I strongly doubt it! So are they really learning any lessons from this discipline? Or do we just get to enjoy some quiet time away from them? Which in itself is a highlight.
I have sent my kid to her room on numerous occasions. But I am not lucky enough to find her asleep. She sits on her bed with her door open and tries to hold conversations with us as we walk by. She feigns sudden interest in anything she can think of to engage us in some kind of banter. Even if we make her close the door, she will talk through the crack. (Think of Elsa and Anna in the scene from Frozen) So it ends up being more annoying than satisfying at teaching a lesson.
Well, back to this spit habit. I had to come up with something the other day to fulfill my threat of discipline. I was in the moment and felt true pressure on what to choose. My husband wasn’t home so he couldn’t help me. I was on my own. I quickly tried to think back on anything I was forced to do when in trouble in my youth. As the rolodex flipped through my mind, it stopped on a weird page just as a flash of The Simpson’s title sequence with Bart writing on the chalk board flickered in my mind. So that is what I made her do. Write “I will not play with spit” 10 times every time I catch her doing it.
Yes, my husband and sister laughed at me when I told them this. As you quite possibly are doing as well. But it was all I could come up with at the time! So far, she has had to write it 50 times and has 10 in queue as you read. Just this morning she had to write it 20 times before she could watch tv or play with her tablet or even think of putting Barbie in the convertible mini-coop.
Do I think this punishment fits the crime? No. But as I asked before–what punishment would? Do I think this will be effective? I don’t know. The first time she had to do it, she was actually proud of her work! She asked if we could keep it. I’m not sure, but I think she was under the guise that it should be framed!! However, I caught her rolling spit a few minutes ago and when she saw me looking, she quickly swallowed it and said something to the effect that she “had a tickle in her throat and wasn’t playing with spit, just trying to clear her throat”. All of this was said without me saying one word. So maybe, just maybe, it’s working.
We parents have no idea what we are doing. Who knew that we would be trying to concoct methods of punishment for eating toe jam or taping boogers to the wall? Or that our kids would be in the best physical shape of all their classmates without playing even one school sport because they are doing pull ups from not finishing their homework?
I for one am not afraid to admit I have no idea what I am doing as a parent. But I am open to suggestions. I’d love to hear how you are keeping your kids in line and ensuring obedience… 🙂