|Originally posted by Sofiamomma
Really? You think children should get an explanation 99 times out of 100? I might go mad if I did that!
I haven't forgotten about pm'ing you. I'm having a rough 24 hours!
But about this-- It takes practice. I try my best to always offer an explanation. When I don't, my 6yo knows that I mean business and he trusts that I have a good one. Case in point-- We were driving to Dallas over Easter weekend, 5 hours from here. I was driving by myself with all three kids-- 6, 2, and 3mo. We stopped at a gas station and I let my oldest out to stretch his legs while I pumped gas. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man walking purposefully toward me. This gas station was not in a well populated area, I could not see another person anywhere. Ds was about fifteen feet away from me. I stopped pumping gas immediately and told my son to get in the car. Now. he asked why and I said, "Just do it." And he did. The man asked me for some money and I did not give it to him because I did not want to pull my wallet out in this situation where I would have no recourse if he tried to take it. He was clearly intoxicated and being belligerent. I drove away with him yelling at me. The point of the story is that in a situation where there was danger, my son could infer from the tone of my voice and my lack of explanation that something was up and I needed him to do what I asked immediately.
This is the same level of trust that I have with my husband. If he tells me firmly to do something, I do it because I trust that he has a good reason that will explained to me later. In many ways, the relationships we have with our children are not different than those we have with our adult family members. After all, that is really what we are helping them to do-- figure out how to have healthy, meaningful relationships with other human beings. We can teach them how to earn love and respect by being agressive and angry, or we can show them how to express themselves to others with respect and understanding.
Now that is the desired outcome. Getting there is hard sometimes. If he asks why, I tell him why to the best of my ability.
Why can't I have ice cream money today? Because we don't have enough money to buy everything we want.
Why do I have to be quiet when my brother can run around and be loud and no one makes him stop? Because he is a baby and doesn't understand us like you do. When you were a baby, you did the same thing and it drove us nuts just like he driving you nuts right now. One day your little sister will drive him nuts, too.
Just a brief explanation usually works. I try to curb longer discussions about "why" by offering an alternative. Sometimes the alternative is to play "the quiet game" or whisper what he wants to say to me in his head if I need him to be quiet for a minute. Choices are an important part of gentle discipline. You can't simply say, "Stop what you are doing." You have to guide the child to help him or her decide what it is that they want to do instead of what you are asking them to NOT do. Sometimes phrasing it in a positive way rather than a negative way helps. Instead of saying, "Stop reading so your sister can sleep," or whatever, you could say, "Let's stop reading while your sister falls asleep. Think about the words in your head, and once she is asleep, you and I can have a special conversation about what you read." Or something like that. Don't say "Why don't you..." because they will always have a reason why. If you need her to be quiet while the baby falls asleep, give her something to do quietly.
This IS a lot of work at first. It takes a while to train yourself to do this, and it will take a while for your child to understand that you always have a reason for asking her to do something. Eventually, you will get to the point where you can say, "I really just need you to do this for me right now and we can talk about it later." I promise. I think it is possible, in the situation that you described, that she does it now simply to get a rise out of you. If you stop giving her what she wants, she will stop. You might have to sit through listening to the baby cry a few times, but eventually it will work.
This is what is so difficult about the alternatives to spanking. They take time. I've had dozens of conversations with parents who spank, some who want to stop and many that did not, and they always ask what they can do instead of spanking. I think that the first step is to just remove spanking from the realm of possibility. Don't make it an option. The next step is developing techniques for dealing with difficult moments with your child. This just takes time. The fact is that there isn't anything out there, aside from interupting the behavior that is undesirable with physical pain, that will get your child to stop what you DON'T want him or her to be doing instantly. All of the alternatives take time to work, especially if you are coming from a place with your child where your initial reaction to perceived misbehavior is anger. It takes time to heal the wounds that are already there, time to correct bad habits in both yourself and your child, and time to see the results of a new way of parenting.
Just to go ahead and make this the longest post ever, I'll tell you about my journey to this place. When my oldest son turned 3, all hell broke loose. The two's were cake for us. He was SO EASY! But, he wasn't verbal and couldn't hear very well. Once that was corrected, he was so hard to deal with all of the sudden. He had this voice that could reason and argue with me, and it drove me insane. One night I got very drunk on the back porch after he went to sleep and cried while my husband sat and looked at me like I was mad. But he admitted that he felt frustrated, too. I talked to some parents I knew that I thought were wonderful parents and asked them how they did it, and this kept coming up-- talk to your kid, listen to your kid, respect your kid. And this was the result of that. Always taking time to explain why, taking time to build trust.
I've seen this stuff work with even the most defiant kids. A group of mamas stepped in to help a mother we saw drowning in our neighborhood. We took turns interacting with her child and showing her how to respond to his outbursts without giving into one ourselves. It helps to have someone show you. If you have a mama friend who, by all outward appearances, is in a good place with her parenting, ask her for help. Seriously, I think most people are more interested in helping than judging (even if they are like me and have to get over themselves first).
My husband is glaring at me so I'd better get off the computer for a while, but I have been thinking about this and didn't want to say "don't spank!" without offering any alternatives.