Not sure yet if I'm happy with my reaction... (LONG) - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-29-2009, 12:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Okay, here's what happened... tonight we were at a year-end party for a Girl Guides unit. I'm one of three leaders - my six year old daughter is a member, and I had my seven year old and three year old sons with me, as my husband had to be in class. The party, and all of the meetings, are held in a church basement. I had my three year old on my hip (REALLY wish he hadn't outgrown his sling), and was cleaning up after the meeting. My two other children helped clean up for a while, and then were playing with the other girls in the group and their siblings. Both of my older children are reliable kids - I trust that they will be respectful and kind, and safe.
Tonight I was flabbergasted when my nearly six year old daughter decided to go outside of the church without my permission. The group of kids decided to go outside - led by 10 and 8 year olds who regularly attend the church and whose parents have no problem with them doing so. My children, though, know that they absolutely need an adult to go outside of any building, unless it's our own backyard, I can see them from the house, and they ask permission first. I was and still am incredulous - I understand that she followed the other kids, and was wound up in the excitement of the moment. I understand that she's only six. Still though, it is a major transgression and completely out of character. I rarely have to correct my daughter's behaviour - she is sensitive, kind, intelligent and eager to do the right thing. So tonight I was stumped. I wanted some feedback on my reaction, as I'm still not sure I'm happy with it, but not sure why...
When I discovered that she was outside (literally two minutes after she went out the door - Mommy radar), I asked her to come inside and brought her with me to the church kitchen while I finished clean-up. Once we were alone, she asked if I was mad at her and I said that I was upset and asked her if she was allowed to go outside without permission - she shook her head. I asked her why not and she told me because it isn't safe. On the way home I explained why I was upset. Honestly, I had to think how to deal with the situation. I explained to her that the consequence for me was that I wasn't going to be able to trust that she knew our safety rules to the same extent that I had before. She was quiet and listening. When we got home, I asked her to write me a letter about why it wasn't okay for her to have gone out without permission. She did so, was very thoughtful, we had a talk and a hug.
Now for the trickly part. Earlier in the evening, both older kids had asked for second helpings of the special dessert - brownies. I told them I didn't have enough to go around, and that we would save them for when we got home as a reward for all of our hard work, their cooperation during cleanup and their help with their little brother. I didn't consider that as a bribe but rather something for all of us to look forward to after a long day. The thing is, I don't agree with taking away things like this. But I didn't give her the brownie. Because she didn't help clean up, left her little brother, and went outside alone instead. She accepted it without complaint, we proceeded with story time and bedtime as usual.
What do you guys think?? Why do I feel guilty?

~~ Natalie ~~
Loving and learning with my DH since 09/1992 , DS1 03/2002, DD 06/2003 and DS2 09/2006
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Old 05-29-2009, 04:04 PM
 
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I think you handled yourself well, but maybe no brownie was too much? I think that's your question. IMO, I think I would have given her the brownie. It was a misstep, but it had been thoroughly addressed.
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Old 05-29-2009, 04:23 PM
 
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To me the brownie seems completely unrelated to her "crime". Seems like you were OK with her playing rather than helping you clean up and/or watching your youngest child, so at that point tying the brownie to actually cleaning seems incongrous. If you had called her back from playng, maybe. But the going outside was merely a continuation of something you were already, apparently, allowing.

But then, I admit to being baffled by holding elementary-aged child to not being allowed to go outside with a group of friends who were in a comfortable environment. To me, anything beyond a review of your safety rules was probably overkill given your description of your child's temperment.
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Old 05-29-2009, 04:45 PM
 
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I probably would have given her the brownie, but I do understand your reasoning. Either way, I think that you handled it well and the issue of the brownie is a small issue. Even if you made a mistake there, by your own standards, it sounds as if you probably have an established pattern of handling discipline issues very gently and it's that pattern that makes an impression on a child, not one small isolated mistake, IMO. I wouldn't stew about it.
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Old 05-29-2009, 06:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom View Post
But then, I admit to being baffled by holding elementary-aged child to not being allowed to go outside with a group of friends who were in a comfortable environment. To me, anything beyond a review of your safety rules was probably overkill given your description of your child's temperment.
These were my thoughts exactly.

I can absolutely see how a 6 year old would get carried away and want to run around and go outside. I am not going to judge whether I would let my child go or not because there are too many variables that we don't know (for example, is it in a safe neighborhood, is it near a street, etc). If my child were to do this and i wasn't ok with letting him run around with the other kids, I would just review the safety rules immediately. I would not have done the cleaning and then waited for him to ask me if I was upset. He would know immediately that I wasn't happy and why and then it would have been over. There would have been no discussion in the car, no letter written, etc.

I believe in dealing with things right away and then just letting it go.

I think the brownies were overkill, but I also think making her write the letter was overkill as well.
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Old 05-29-2009, 07:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MtBikeLover View Post

I think the brownies were overkill, but I also think making her write the letter was overkill as well.
I agree. I was very surprised when I read that the OP's daughter had to write a letter. The OP stated that "I rarely have to correct my daughter's behaviour - she is sensitive, kind, intelligent and eager to do the right thing." The letter and brownie seems like a lot considering this seemed to be her first mistake in a very long time. Just my opinion.
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Old 06-04-2009, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi again,

Have been pretty tied up with a newborn (not mine but I've been helping) past few days so haven't posted. Thanks for your replies and your thoughts... I wanted to respond to some points... the reason I wasn't comfortable with her being outside is because she has never been allowed to play outside before at that location (so not a known, secure environment), and in fact it is on a busy street. Just a review of safety rules didn't feel like enough in this situation - she KNEW the safety rules and knew why I was upset. I didn't address it right away because we were surrounded by her peers and I didn't want to embarrass her. But again, she knew and I knew and we just agreed to talk about it in the car. I wasn't angry so much as shocked - it really scared me. It's a great church, but really not a great location. And the brownie thing was related in that they were given the choice to help clean up or play, but the brownies were a treat for the clean-up team. They originally were helping watch their younger brother, but I brought him into the kitchen to help me when he asked.... the letter, thinking back, may have been too much. It was meant to help her reflect - she didn't have to show it to me if she didn't want to - I just wanted some gentle way of ensuring that she would remember this for a while - if I had it to do over again, we would have had a talk once we were alone, and a review of the rules. I still wouldn't have given her the brownie, I don't think. Again, thanks for your thoughts, and for helping me sort through mine.

~~ Natalie ~~
Loving and learning with my DH since 09/1992 , DS1 03/2002, DD 06/2003 and DS2 09/2006
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Old 06-04-2009, 02:17 PM
 
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as to the letter thing...

my parents used that with me as a kid and I got really good at berating myself... and parenting myself through the letters... an unfortunate trend of my parents.... trending towards early non-parenting and my spending my teenage years laying in bed berating myself, penning letters in a way, parenting myself.

I'm just not convinced it is a good way to have children process transgressions

Tea drinking Momma::: Grady 8/06 and : Coralynn 8/09
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