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Negotiating With Children August 18, 2006

Posted by fajita in General.

My childen have been great adjusting to the move to Minnesota from Arkansas. However, they have gotten into a a bad pattern. When I would say, “Sierra (or Canaan), would you please stop that?” Immediately following the request, the child would repeat the action. Then another request and another violation.

Naturally this is very frustrating for me as a parent. Not to mention that I am going stir crazy being home all day. So, last night came the stern talking to. I sat the kids down and told them what they were doing was disrespectful. “Canaan, when you pick up the cat and it is crying in pain because of the twisted angle of its backbone, you let it go, especailly if we ask you to let it go. Don’t keep grabbing and bending the cat. Sierra, when you hit your brother with a pillow and we ask you to stop, you stop. If you continue to disrespect us when we ask you to do something, then we will not allow you to bike or scooter ot watch TV.”

The wheels were turning.

Canaan said, “I don’t want to stop scootering, OK.” Canaan is easy. He learns the system and conforms to it. He knows where the power rests and when he knows the system, he finds a way to make it work to his advantage.

Sierra has another way of thinking about it. She’s more principled than pragmatic. She was not fully convinced that she was not in charge. She was frustrated. She did not agree to the deal. She left and pouted. Then she came back to conversation to explain why she was hitting her bother with a pillow.

“When my arms get going, they just keep going and I can’t stop them, they just go and go.” What’s this Pippi Longstocking?

“Well,” I responded, “you had better find a way to teach your arsm to stop because I’m still going to take your bike away if you keep hitting your brother.”

“I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong.”

“Well, I’m sure you know it now. Not obeying your parents is disrespect.”

Conversation over.

Later that night at the final tuck into bed I asked Sierra if she was mad. She pondered for a moment and said, “You’re getting warmer.”

“Super mad?”

“Even warmer. I’m mad and sad.”

“Well, you’re not in trouble, I am just telling you how it is going to be from now on.”

“I know.”

“I love you, punkin.”

“I love you too.”

Hugs and kisses.

Parenting is a challenge. I keep trying to do it right.

Now I know that following the “stern voice” as Sierra calls it, there needs to be lots and lots of affirmation and catching them doing things right. I know that I am not the only one going stir crazy. Discipline and correction cannot be the only arrows in a parent’s quiver. Correction is not synonymous with parenting. It is only a portion of it. Now I am tasked to even out the correction with affirmation. I love my kids and they need to know all sides of that love.


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