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Is Unschooling Compatible with Punishment? - Page 6

Poll Results: Is unschooling compatible with punishment?

 
  • 43% (37)
    Yes, but only non-corporal punishments like taking-away-priveleges.
  • 56% (48)
    No, not at all.
85 Total Votes  
post #101 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
to dharmamama!

I'd love to hear some ideas from more experienced RU-parents, regarding how to deal with the above situations without punishment/imposed consequences -- and also without the parent feeling coerced into doing stuff she doesn't want to do.
Tome, that's the whole thing behind RU: In the same way I believe that my kids will learn what they need to learn, academically, I believe they will learn these life issues. We talk about laundry and other tasks in the same way we talk about math and the rest. I give information, make suggestions, help when I can, then let them be. I wouldn't punish them over chores any more than I'd punish them over not learning their multiplication tables.

In the case of pets, when my kids have had an interest in having a pet, I know that *I* need to be willing to make a committment to that animal. While caring for a pet can be a learning experience, they are, first and foremost, living creatures that we are obligated to care for. I see that very differently than household chores. My youngest two have had many pets. From the age of 4 they were able to do some of the required tasks, but not all. And it was up to me to make sure that the pets were taken care of. When I felt that I had my hands full, I expressed to them that I didn't feel capable of taking on any new pets. They were okay with that.


Quote:
When dd started talking about her strong yearning for a puppy, I felt some desire to put off all the mess and responsibility that I've heard goes with raising a puppy -- but I felt an even stronger desire to help dd experience her dream.
There have been some pets that I have not personally had a desire to keep. But, knowing how important it was to my dd, we did get them because I wanted to do that for her. She knew how I felt and this animal was important enough to her that she did take on most of it's care.
post #102 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
dh and I also agreed to these pets knowing that she's a kid and that they'd be essentially our responsibility.
We have seven animal companions. ALL of them are dh's and my responsibility ... in terms of making sure they have food, water, and regular veterinary care. We also make sure to give them all lots of love and attention, above and beyond what they get from the kids.

However, we do expect that the kids help out with the animals when we ask them to. If we ask Desta to clean up the poop in the basement and she says ok, then we expect her to do it, not to let weeks go by without doing it.

dm
post #103 of 124
Thread Starter 
My 8yo usually does whatever she agrees to do. I think if she'd agreed to something and then didn't want to do it, we'd talk about it and come to a new agreement that she felt better about handling. Sometimes she just prefers to do jobs with one of us.

Now, a while back we had some cat-poop mess in the basement, and I think she went down and held the bag for dh while he cleaned it up. For harder jobs, she seems happy to help the adult, whereas she probably wouldn't want to go down and handle it all by herself.

Maybe something like this would work with Desta?
post #104 of 124
Dh did help her do it last night. We use the basement for storage and so we only sporadically remembered that it needed to be cleaned up. When we did, we would remind Desta that it needed to be done and she would say ok. Then she wouldn't do it and I'd forget about it. After they joked about it yesterday, they decided to do it together.

But Desta is also 13, so there's no reason she couldn't do it herself. She may not have wanted to, and I understand that, and I frequently help my kids out with things, but, imo, simply not wanting to do something does not automatically excuse one from doing something, especially not in a family, where we all try to work together to keep the home running smoothly.

I guess that I will bow out now. I realize that I do (and probably always will) differ from the RU mindset in that I don't think it's a bad thing to expect kids to help out around the house, and I don't think that every time a kid doesn't want to do something that it's time to break into negotiations. I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask (or tell) a kid to help out and expect that they do.

But thanks for an interesting discussion.

dm
post #105 of 124
Thread Starter 
dharmamama, I'm sorry you're feeling a need to bow out!

But what you've shared may actually be the crux of the difference between those who feel a need for imposed consequences and those who don't -- not that I see the consequences you've shared as highly-punitive or anything.

I mean, when I was 12 and my brother was 10, my mom decided to show us how to do our own laundry, and from then on it was totally our responsibility. She just did hers and Dad's. I never saw it as a punishment. We'd just moved to a new 3-level house, after living in a ranch-house, and Mom wanted to minimize her trips carrying laundry from the top-level to the basement, and then back up. We were young and energetic, and it made perfect sense for us to do it.

It did feel kind of punitive one time, when our cat pulled some of my sanitary pads out of the bathroom waste-basket, and shredded them, one day when I was at school, and Mom left the mess there for me to deal with when I got home. It's still hard for me to understand how she dealt with all my diaper-changes and illnesses growing up -- but was too grossed out to just use some toilet paper and pick up the shredded pads. She preferred to greet me with the news when I came in.

It wasn't that hard to clean up, but I remember feeling a sense of hurt and rejection that my mom was now "grossed out" by me.

That said, I was already doing my own laundry by the time I started my period, and when I had leaks, it never occurred to me to soak my panties or anything. And Mom never had to deal with it: I just washed them with the rest of my laundry, and sometimes they got icky stains, but no one saw them but me and it didn't bug me too bad.

So I don't think 13's too young to be doing one's own laundry -- but I can see how having to do it might feel punitive to Desta, with the HIV issues and all.
post #106 of 124
I do expect Rain to do all of this stuff - but expect, not require. I expect her to do it because she does.

But, really, sometimes I don't want to do stuff, and I just don't. Sometimes Rain does it instead, or sometimes it goes undone... that doesn't work for feeding pets, but for most other stuff it's okay. Eventually I feel like doing it again.

I think the underlying assumption for me is that the people in our family are invested in the well-being of our family. For us, that's true, and knowing that it's true allows me to live like this. If it wasn't true, well, I'd have to do things differently...

dar
post #107 of 124
Thread Starter 
Oh! I almost forgot to say what I meant about "the crux of the difference" between those who feel a need to impose consequences, and those who don't. When dharmamama shared this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama View Post
I guess that I will bow out now. I realize that I do (and probably always will) differ from the RU mindset in that I don't think it's a bad thing to expect kids to help out around the house, and I don't think that every time a kid doesn't want to do something that it's time to break into negotiations. I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask (or tell) a kid to help out and expect that they do.
I realized that may be it in a nutshell. While I think most RU parents feel okay about asking for help around the house, and most RU parents find their kids to be helpful most of the time, RU parents don't have the same feeling that the kids have to do things.

And, as someone (I think it was SagMom) mentioned earlier up-thread, punishments become necessary when you're trying to get people to do things they don't want to do, or get them to not do something they do want to do.

So if you see it as your job to help your child get to do what she wants, you're not likely to see a need for punishment -- but if you see it as your job to teach your child that she can't do everything she wants, and that sometimes she has to do what she doesn't want, you're likely to see a need for some kind of extrinsic motivation at times.

Makes sense.
post #108 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post
I do expect Rain to do all of this stuff - but expect, not require. I expect her to do it because she does.

But, really, sometimes I don't want to do stuff, and I just don't. Sometimes Rain does it instead, or sometimes it goes undone... that doesn't work for feeding pets, but for most other stuff it's okay. Eventually I feel like doing it again.
Yes, feeding pets is a pretty basic need, and also something that's pretty easy to do. In our house, the food dishes are in the restroom just off the kitchen, so it's pretty automatic for me to make sure they're fed while I'm preparing food for the humans.

Scooping out the cat-box, and cleaning up the puppy messes that still happen sometimes, still feels basic to me -- it's not that anyone dies if they're not done, but the odor and the risk of someone stepping in a mess and tracking it around is just not acceptable to me. The kids don't seem as bugged by it.

My 3yo actually loves cleaning it up -- but it tends to get smeared sometimes.(:

So it all comes down to us agreeing on how to handle this clean-up -- also being observant of when Puppy's needing to be taken out. I do expect my 8yo to care about her pets' well-being, and she does -- but I don't require her to do stuff. I also realize that puppies are a lot of work in the beginning, but get easier as they grow.

Quote:
I think the underlying assumption for me is that the people in our family are invested in the well-being of our family. For us, that's true, and knowing that it's true allows me to live like this. If it wasn't true, well, I'd have to do things differently...

dar
Bolding mine. Yes, it's true for us, too.
post #109 of 124
I just replied and lost it. Crappy!
post #110 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelBee View Post
I just replied and lost it. Crappy!
I hate when that happens! I hope you'll re-post when you get the chance.
post #111 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
Oh! I almost forgot to say what I meant about "the crux of the difference" between those who feel a need to impose consequences, and those who don't. When dharmamama shared this:



I realized that may be it in a nutshell. While I think most RU parents feel okay about asking for help around the house, and most RU parents find their kids to be helpful most of the time, RU parents don't have the same feeling that the kids have to do things.

And, as someone (I think it was SagMom) mentioned earlier up-thread, punishments become necessary when you're trying to get people to do things they don't want to do, or get them to not do something they do want to do.

So if you see it as your job to help your child get to do what she wants, you're not likely to see a need for punishment -- but if you see it as your job to teach your child that she can't do everything she wants, and that sometimes she has to do what she doesn't want, you're likely to see a need for some kind of extrinsic motivation at times.

Makes sense.
Yeah, that basically defines my perspective. My children can't do everything they want, and sometimes have to do things they don't want.
There's really not a lot of conflict in my house, but I think having rules helps it to stay that way.
post #112 of 124
Thread Starter 
I'm finding that I've got a long way to go, when it comes to not making my kids feel they "have" to do things. I got stressed the other night, and talked with dh and our 8yo about how I'm just so overwhelmed with caring for and training the dog. While I certainly don't want to part with him now that we've all bonded with him and love him, I just feel a need to let him run outside more often than dd feels comfortable with.

As well as us not succeeding well at paper-training so far (though he does go outside quite a bit), he and our 3yo get into lots of play sessions that turn a little rough, on both sides. She never wants to leave him alone, though, and sometimes it seems like the only answer when I'm trying to prepare a meal and she's screaming for help, is to just let him run outside for a bit.

We've sometimes put him in the basement for a short time (the only room it's "safe" to put him in, as he gets mad and pees the bed if he's shut up in a bedroom) -- but he hates going in there, so it's a major feat of strength to get him in there, it takes a lot out of me (and he's still a puppy).

Dd is understandably anxious, as he's made a running jump and gone over the fence a few times -- something I'd hoped we could avoid by getting a medium-sized dog, which his breeds (Beagle Hound and English Pointer) seemed to be pointing to. But he's already quite large. I never wanted to have to chain a dog, so I just wanted one small enough that he could run free in the yard. "When our ship comes in," we'll put in a taller fence -- but that may be years away.

When he's jumped it, he's always come back pretty quickly -- but dd naturally worries about him getting hit by a car. But after my "breakdown" the other night, she agreed to let him run outside more, but I felt like she was being coerced, and didn't like it.

Anyhow, she and dh are going to buy a chain today -- so now it's just the dog being coerced. Just thought I'd share that I haven't got this whole parenting-thing down perfect or anything.
post #113 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
Just thought I'd share that I haven't got this whole parenting-thing down perfect or anything.
I appreciate your sharing that. I'm going through a stressful time, and feeling the need to set some boundaries about how people (including my kids) treat me. Not that anyone is intentionally mistreating me, more that I have some needs I have to stop ignoring. My hope is that if I'm a little more assertive about some core stuff that's important to me (ie not being yelled at by my 7 year old on a regular basis, being able to keep an area of the house in a state that allows me to be comfortable, and few other things) I'll be able to be a little more creative and patient about the other stuff.

I have trouble with these conversations sometimes because I tend to hear judgment in what I think is actually intended as advice. Coming up with a creative solution when I'm stressed out, and three kids are all talking/whining at me at once is hard for me -- it's not that I think it's a bad idea exactly, just that it's sometimes more than I can manage. I like to think that when my kids are older and more motivated/able to participate in brainstorming it will get easier.

ZM
post #114 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeldamomma View Post
I appreciate your sharing that. I'm going through a stressful time, and feeling the need to set some boundaries about how people (including my kids) treat me. Not that anyone is intentionally mistreating me, more that I have some needs I have to stop ignoring. My hope is that if I'm a little more assertive about some core stuff that's important to me (ie not being yelled at by my 7 year old on a regular basis, being able to keep an area of the house in a state that allows me to be comfortable, and few other things) I'll be able to be a little more creative and patient about the other stuff.
And what I keep hearing, from long-time non-punitive parents like LillianJ, Dar, and SagMom, is that it's not about letting people disregard our boundaries and treat us disrespectfully, and it's not about ignoring our own needs, either.

Quote:
I have trouble with these conversations sometimes because I tend to hear judgment in what I think is actually intended as advice.
Yes, I know when I hear someone say, "My kids always treat me respectfully, because I treat them respectfully" -- it can feel like a slap in the face if I've just had a child screaming at me for misunderstanding her request and slicing her apple when she wanted it whole (just a hypothetical example ... and of course the logical solution is to just give her another apple and eat that one myself -- but what if it's the last apple, and I'm without transportation or any money right then?)

But I realize that these moms are not just saying their kids came into the world automatically understanding how to respect their boundaries: As Lillian puts it, she treated her son with respect and expected the same from him.

From what I've read, I do think Lillian's son may be more on the mellow side (can't say for sure as I don't know him). I don't think Lillian's saying that those of us with more intense children, who may need more help in being able to respect others' boundaries, are necessarily failing if we still have times of getting screamed at, etcetera. But I realize how it feels when we're in the thick of it, and we're hearing about how respectful other people's kids are.

Quote:
Coming up with a creative solution when I'm stressed out, and three kids are all talking/whining at me at once is hard for me -- it's not that I think it's a bad idea exactly, just that it's sometimes more than I can manage. I like to think that when my kids are older and more motivated/able to participate in brainstorming it will get easier.
Yes, I know it gets easier! Brainstorming is way easier now with my 8yo, than it was when she was younger. And I'm seeing lots of progress with my 3yo, too. Also, I think there's a big difference between your situation of having 3 children under 8, and mine of having 2 children 8 and under. But just think -- in a couple years' time, that'll be more people to brainstorm with.
post #115 of 124
Thread Starter 
Oops! double-post.
post #116 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
I don't want to give the impression that we're all just relaxing over here, and having wonderful chats, all the time.

I also have had the experience of having to physically restrain one or the other of my children from hurting someone. I agree with Dar that it helps to be proactive, make sure they get protein-food, and so on. But sometimes situations occur where I need to act quickly, and I can't think of any other recourse besides picking my child up and taking her out of the situation.

I don't see it as ideal -- but I also don't see it as punishment.
This is totally us, here.

Ds is a physical, touchy kid and he hits a lot, especially when he is tired, hungry, overstimulated, bored, or frustrated. I frequently have to pick him up and haul him away. He isn't unduly upset about this. As soon as I remove him from the situation, he invariably calms right down and will be snuggly. I do my best to help him get enough sleep and to eat when he is hungry but he is also very selective about what he'll eat (textures, flavors, etc) so it isn't simple to just give him protein foods to keep his blood sugar level on an even keel.

But I don't need to impose a consequence after I have moved him out of the situation or tell him there will be one if it happens again. It simply isn't effective. He does what he does for an underlying reason. Attempts to punish just result in an angry kid who acts worse (dh has occasionally tried logical consequences ).

And ds gets annoyed if I talk too much. He knows what I'm going to say and doesn't need me to say it again. I know this creates the impression to others that I'm not addressing a situation but it is that I know I don't need to reiterate something I've said before. My part of "talks" are short and to the point but I'm all ears if ds wants to talk more. Sometimes ds will explain why he did something or how he felt much later.

I even yell (though I don't belittle, curse, or shame). I get frustrated and annoyed when ds does things to provoke me. Sure it means he needs more attention but he has always been so high needs I pretty much have come to the conclusion that it is an impossible goal for one person to provide. He just needs more people and I can't be more people (though I try to find more people to be with which is hard to accomplish).

This parenting is a hard gig, at least for me, lol.
post #117 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post
Ds is a physical, touchy kid and he hits a lot, especially when he is tired, hungry, overstimulated, bored, or frustrated. I frequently have to pick him up and haul him away. He isn't unduly upset about this. As soon as I remove him from the situation, he invariably calms right down and will be snuggly.
That sounds wonderful! I've had one child get real angry with me for quite a while (after being carried away from a situation) before moving on to the snugly phase.
post #118 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
That sounds wonderful! I've had one child get real angry with me for quite a while (after being carried away from a situation) before moving on to the snugly phase.
Yeah, I don't know what I'd do if he stayed upset but I probably would have figured out something else over the years...like staying home (just kidding... sort of...). Gotta laugh 'cause it beats crying or pulling out all my graying hair.

ETA Rereading, I thought that might sound judgmental (that I would have found a better way if ds got upset) but I really just meant it is way easier to be at peace with being physical with my physical child since it so obviously doesn't cause anger or resentment in him. It's like something wild and crazy turns on in him and he can't find the off switch.
post #119 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
Yes, I know when I hear someone say, "My kids always treat me respectfully, because I treat them respectfully" --
Maybe this sounds nit-picky, but the word "always" jumped out at me here. I would say that we (my kids and I) are mutually respectful. I would say that I've modeled respect and consideration for them and they've picked that up and shown respect for me. OVERALL, that is our life. Have I ever "lost it" and said stupid things that were disrespectful and that I regretted? You betcha. And they've done likewise. We talk about it afterwards, we apologize, we move on and get back on track again. It's a mistake, but not a failure.

It IS a two-way street. We respect each other, and we forgive each other when we freak out occassionally.

With little kids though, I think there are times when it's less about respect and more about self-control. I could tell my little ones things like, "I don't like being yelled at. Just ask me and I'll help you." but if they were in the middle of melt-down, that kind of discussion had to wait. Being tired, or hungry, or overstimulated could definately lead to a meltdown and lack of self-control. I wouldn't expect a child to politely explain their needs to me at that point and I wouldn't see their inability to do so as disrespect, but as a developmental stage. kwim?
post #120 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post
ETA Rereading, I thought that might sound judgmental (that I would have found a better way if ds got upset) but I really just meant it is way easier to be at peace with being physical with my physical child since it so obviously doesn't cause anger or resentment in him. It's like something wild and crazy turns on in him and he can't find the off switch.
Yeah, I actually went through a long period of hardly ever leaving the house, not too long ago. It was just my favorite choice among my available options -- since I didn't see it as a viable option to force my child to separate from me before she was ready, so my going out without her wasn't something I was going to do.
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