I don't see this as an unfair punishment... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
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but my dh seems to.

So here is how this week has unfolded to well be a heck of a time this morning. DS4 is pushing buttons, he is coming into his own and this I KNOW. I am trying to get him to understand that when I ask of something he needs to NOT backtalk me and to do it. He has been talking back all week, I ask him to please take off a VERY dirty shirt and I will get him another one and he tells me flat out I will NOT you can't make me. I tried to teach the boys how to eat a cupcake (this is one from GiGi's that grandma bought us and they are HUGE) and he says I don't have to do it that way. All I asked was that he open the paper and get to the cake. Then there is the p lease go pick up the eggs and candy off your floor and put it into the kitchen, he has refused and for 3 days it's been on the floor.

So this morning I woke up made breakfast and he didn't want to eat any of the frittata only chocolate crepes. Well breakfast is over and I tell them to get dressed. We have a game at 12 and I was going to take them to an egg hunt. Well they are told to get ready and ds4 just wants to lay on the floor and scream at me that he WON'T be thirsty and he will NOT bring me his thermos to fill up (I had no idea where he had left it). So we pack up head out, and in the car they proceed to aggravate dh. I ask ds4 to please to stop the back talking and the baby voices. That dad needs peace and quiet. Well of course he starts to moan and I ask him to not moan and he says well I will and keeps on.

So dad drives us all home and takes ds4 into the house. The morning is ruined and I know no egg hunt will be done this morning (but I am considering one this afternoon so that ds6 can enjoy one at the very least). I'm mad and I am frustrated so I call a meeting to the table.

DH does NOT join us he does dishes and the boys sit at the kitchen table with me. I explained to them that the morning is over it will not happen due to the back talking that is continuous (directed at ds4), the not listening (ds6), and the rude behavior overall from ds4. That we will go to soccer at 12 and if I feel that I want to go to an egg hunt with ds6 then we will this afternoon and ds4 can go but he will with a punishment. So the punishment for ds4 for this week is that he will not spend tonight at grandma's. Now the boys go every Saturday and I feel that he needs a punishment that will make him understand that at home he DOES have rules and he must obey them.

DH hasn't said anything to me, but I heard the tell tell grunt and saw his head shake as I spoke it to ds4 about not going to grandmas (which is dh's mom), but to me this is FITTING. DH will NOT talk to me about it and so it was up to me to do something. He needs to see that his behaviour towards me is NOT acceptable and that going off to grandma's to get fast food for dinner, play video games, and do what HE PLEASES is not a reward he should get.

So am I off base? DH and I had a HUGE blowout 2 week fight last summer about this same issue. (For one dh swears that if my mom were alive I wouldn't ground the kids from her house, but see DARN RIGHT I would it is a fair punishment to me to ground them from something fun). He told me it was the most evil of all punishments and I got called names and everything. But I stood my ground then, and ds4 is just not behaving this week and it's the same as back then. I feel that grounding him for a day isn't the end of the world and that it will get the point across that this house has RULES. That behaving mom and dad will let you do fun things, but not behaving them you will NOT get to go and do things.

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#2 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 01:33 PM
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honestly mama i agree with your dh.

this is easter weekend. the only time for egg hunts and specialness. in our house we grew up that bdays and holidays were punishment free. i would see this weekend as a free punishment week.

however i come from a different philosophy than you. i have never punished my 7 year old. i have done playful parenting and a whole bunch of things but never really taken anything away from her.

your son is being a typical 4 year old. he cant help be who he is - including the insisting and temper tantrums. all you can do is find a way to help him listen to you. it will take time and one day he will.

absolutely every house has to have rules. but look at your rules closely. are you making them because that's teh way you want it, or is it societal pressure making you make those rules.

i dont have much time to write. i hope you understand i come not to judge you but support you. i also have a 7 year old dd. and as i look back i wish i had been a little less stricter as they are only 4 once. 4 was a HARD age on both of us. i recognised most of it was power play so i took a step back and made sure my extremly independent dd was having a say in our family.

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#3 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 02:06 PM
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I say this very gently, but I too agree with your dh mama.

I guess I don't see how going to grandmas has anything to do with what happened earlier in the day. It doesn't seem like a natural consequence to me. And I wouldn't like taking time away from spending with a close relative. It seems to me like things built up over the day, and then finally came to a head (of frustration) and a "big" punishment was doled out. Has your ds been testing you all day? Yes. Is it wrong or bad of you to feel frustrated by his behaviour? No - not at all (I remember the age of 4 being the most difficult time, BTW). But.... I suppose I would take each individual episode of "misbehaviour" and deal with it at the time it occurs. First of all, I'd ask myself - is this really something to create a power struggle over.

So, in the case of the cupcake. Well, maybe it is ok to eat it however he wants. If it gets too messy have him help wipe up afterwards. (I can imagine myself not wanting someone micromanaging my eating style, iywim).

The eggs and candy left on the floor? There are lots of ways of handling this. Decide that his room is his space and let him keep it how he wants. Decide that you will ask him to clean it up x amount of times and if he doesn't you'll take it all and put it up where he can't access it for a period of time (and warn him of this ahead of time). Try some Playful Parenting techniques to make it more fun or easy for him to get it tidied up. But letting it build up into a 3 day power struggle doesn't seem ideal to me.

He doesn't want to bring you his thermos? He screams about it instead of speaking nicely? Model a polite way of speaking. Say "I don't like being screamed at. If you don't want to bring a drink you can say 'no thank you'". And then let him be thirsty later.

Moaning and whining in the car. It seems reasonable to tell him that dh can't drive when he's making those noises (it's too distracting and not safe) so you will have to turn around and go home if he can't stop. Then do something to help him stop. Turn on some music for everyone to sing along to. Start a game (I spy, etc). Start telling everyone a story. Etc.

What I'm getting at here is that every one of these behaviours can be dealt with individually. Letting it build up over the course of the day (several days?) and then taking away a once-a-year treat (Easter egg hunt) and important visit with a beloved relative seems dis-proportionate and unfair. I can see if, for example, every time they go to grandma's house ds pulls the cats tail, and won't leave her alone despite the fact that you've tried and tried various ways of getting him to stop, then it would be appropriate to say to him that this week he will have to fore-go the visit (for the safety of the cat) and he can try again next week. That would be a case in which cutting out the visit would be a natural consequence. But from what you described I don't think the punishment you've given makes sense.

Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#4 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Mommabean View Post

DH hasn't said anything to me, but I heard the tell tell grunt and saw his head shake as I spoke it to ds4 about not going to grandmas (which is dh's mom), but to me this is FITTING. DH will NOT talk to me about it and so it was up to me to do something. He needs to see that his behaviour towards me is NOT acceptable and that going off to grandma's to get fast food for dinner, play video games, and do what HE PLEASES is not a reward he should get.

So am I off base? DH and I had a HUGE blowout 2 week fight last summer about this same issue. (For one dh swears that if my mom were alive I wouldn't ground the kids from her house, but see DARN RIGHT I would it is a fair punishment to me to ground them from something fun). He told me it was the most evil of all punishments and I got called names and everything. But I stood my ground then, and ds4 is just not behaving this week and it's the same as back then. I feel that grounding him for a day isn't the end of the world and that it will get the point across that this house has RULES. That behaving mom and dad will let you do fun things, but not behaving them you will NOT get to go and do things.
Hugs, Mama.

I wonder if your kids are acting up because they see your dh calling you names. (if they saw that.) Kids will mimic what they see, not what we tell them in words to do, sadly.

I would encourage you to work on the communication with your dh...if that is at all humanly possible....getting you two on the same page, or to reach a compromise if at all able to, would be so helpful in my opinion.

Sounds incredibly frustrating.

Kids get moody and misbehave around the holidays, (heck, I do too!) and yet you DO have a right to set boundaries.....I would encourage you to work on this with your dh instead of against him....but that only works if he cooperates too. Sounds hard.

If he refuses to set ANY boundaries, and then criticizes the ones you set, that would really be hard.

Take the time to heal from your marriage before you move on with someone else. Make a list of all the qualities you would like in a new partner and then work on growing that way yourself. ~mandib50
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#5 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 02:32 PM
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The situation you describe makes me think some breathing room would be something you'd want. It's a bit like having a kid who's running around breaking lamps and keeping them indoors instead of taking them to the park. Why would you punish yourself like that?
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#6 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 03:22 PM
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Hugs, hugs, hugs, mama. I really, really feel for you. It is so hard when you just want to feel like your DC are listening to you and taking you seriously. You are, after all, trying to raise the best DC possible and be the best mama possible, right?

I agree with the mama above that said maybe these are things that can be dealt with individually so it never gets to the point where a visit with grandma needs to be taken away. It's hard to commit to dealing with everything in the moment (and not later or next time) but I have seen it make a huge difference for us. For a while it felt like I was on DS's case all the time, but after a few days it got much better as he knew what was expected of him and that when I asked him to stop/get something/be nice to brother/whatever I meant it and I would help him to behave appropriately and safely.

I don't necessarily think that taking away the visit to grandmas was the wrong thing to do (I know this is contrary to a lot of the responses you got ) but maybe you could try talking again to DS and letting him know where you are coming from (his behavior is making you frustrated) and that you would like for him to go to grandmas, but you really need to see some effort to work with you and be respectful. Then, if he is making an effort let him go. That may not be totally GD, but it may be the best way to handle the situation given that you've already told him he can't go and you may not want to undermine your authority by letting him go anyway (since it seems like you maybe feel he doesn't respect you as an authority anyway).

Isn't it hard? It's even tougher when DH isn't always on board. Hugs again, mama, it sounds like you are trying your best to do the right thing in this situation and sometimes the right thing is not easy.

Sarah , wife to Tyson :, SAHM to three little boys and a baby girl on the way!
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#7 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 03:39 PM
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Hm. I agree with the PP who said that you could have handled some of these situations in ways that diffused them rather than escalated them (particularly with the cupcake. Does it really matter how you eat a cupcake?). I also think your husband behaved poorly by not discussing the issue with you (and certainly for calling you names about it when you fought about it in the past. However. . .you already knew from the earlier fight that your husband does not see grounding from grandma's house as an acceptable punishment. He didn't tell you that in a nice way, clearly, (or a way that is at all acceptable) but he did tell you and they are his kids too. If your husband instituted a punishment that you had previously told him very clearly was unacceptable, how would you feel?
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#8 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 03:47 PM
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Honestly, I'd want my DS to go spend the night at grandmas b/c dh and I would enjoy the break (and peace and quiet). And I know, b/c my just-turned-five yr old pushes our buttons the same exact ways (which makes me think it's at least normal for that age).

I guess I just don't see the relation between grandmas and his behavior - except that it's something he was looking forward to. I just highly doubt the next time he backtalks, whines, etc., he is going to think twice b/c he had to stay home and miss out.

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#9 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 03:59 PM
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I wouldn't have let him go either. I'm with you, mama! No fun-filled day at grandma's if he cannot follow basic rules and basic requests at home. I don't think that holiday weekends need to be anything-goes consequence-free times. My kids would take that kind of stuff and RUN with it. Personally, I think your DH is trying to be the good cop and let you take the fall. If he really wanted to participate and have a say, he should have agreed to attend the family meeting where he could have proposed a different, but effective, consequence for your DS. He opted out, so he'll just have to deal with it. Especially if this is something that's been done before (grounded from a trip to grandma's) then your DS should have known it was coming and willfully chose to bring it on. Additionally, your DH has had an entire YEAR to say something like "Dear, I think that ABC punishment was too harsh. I propose XYZ next time this happens instead."

ETA: I just realized that "DS4" is his age, not that he's your 4th son LOL. I assumed that he was older. I think that a punishment like that might not be the most effective for a 4yo. Which doesn't excuse your DS's behavior, and certainly doesn't excuse your DH's poor behavior either. I think a private talk with DH and your DS may be a good idea in working out a different consequence for DS's behavior.

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#10 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 04:00 PM
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In addition to the previous comments, I would ask--- how can DS express disagreement with you? Do you have a way? If he had a specific reason to keep wearing the dirty shirt, or eating the cupcake the way he wants, how does he get to say that? Or is any disagreement with you "backtalk"?

One thing I try to do is seperate out what it is they really NEED to do and what is my preference. For example, in the situations you gave:

Dirty shirt--- depends on situation. If he was going to school or a party, he would NEED to change clothes. If we're just hanging around the house or running errands and the clothing was dry (given that it is still winter here) I wouldn't push the change.

Eating a cupcake--- I would model it and express my concern "I'm afraid you're going to drop most of your cupcake if you eat it that way" as well as offer help (DS likes to eat just the cake part of cupcake first so makes a mess, but if I offer to "peel" the top off he takes me up on it happily) but it would be ultimately his choice IF he could reasonably clean up his mess.

Eggs & Candy on floor in bedroom--- mess in his room is generally his issue. If it is food, though, that is unacceptable to me. He would have been given a time limit with the understanding that after that time I would be throwing his candy away (or if it was wrapped, putting it in the family candy stash).

Thermos--- if he won't bring it, he won't have water. If he can't *find* it, that is a different matter.

And so on. Everyone has preferences and it is fair for you to have them too. What I have a hard time remembering is that my PREFERENCES are not necessarily any more valid than my child's preferences. Sometimes they are because mine have a health or safety issue behind them. But if it is truly something that, as an adult, they could make the choice on and be considered reasonable I try to let it go (for example, I would never suggest to an adult that they could not have a cupcake if they didn't eat it the "right" way).



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#11 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 04:06 PM
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I agree with the not going to grandma's. The rest.. I'd have to contemplate some more.
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#12 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 04:31 PM
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Mama, I feel for you. I have two boys two years apart and I see your situation in my future. I say that because my 2 yr old has been...um...asserting his independence lately and it's been a rough time that keeps my husband and I beat down most days.

I've been reading some books lately that may or may not be helpful to you.

Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

Playful Parenting

Liberated Parents, Liberated Children

Unconditional Parenting (the introduction is so soothing)

Good luck and peaceful, restful vibes to you

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#13 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 07:27 PM
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I probably would have sent him to grandma's house. I don't think that missing something special (especially at four years old) is going to improve his behavior.

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#14 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 08:45 PM
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I have to agree with previous posters who have said: No, it's not at all fair.

You're being really controlling. Maybe you have a need to protect him and not being able to control his choices scares the heck out of you, but you are going to have to let go of some of this stuff. These are not choices that hurt others. If he wants to be dirty, or eat cupcake paper, or be thirsty those are his choices, aren't they? If not, what choices DOES he get to make about his life? If you aren't giving in on these tiny issues, how is he going to know the difference between big deal stuff and small potatoes? If you make a huge deal out of muffin paper, how is he supposed to know stranger danger is SERIOUS?

Do you know what I mean?

I am sure this isn't a MIL thing, it feels fair to you that if he makes your life miserable with the constant challenging and questioning and screaming for autonomy when you don't think he is ready for the responsibility of that autonomy that he should suffer, too. But maybe a better way to handle it is to just let go a little and let him learn from his mistakes. He may just not be one of those people that learn by being told, he may have to experience (and if he is like my ds 2 or 3 times) before he can internalize it. Telling him it is so just doesn't help, it just frustrates him because how is HE supposed to know? He wants to try it himself. He is clearly a natural born scientist, and innovator, a taste tester and a doer. Channel that, don't squash it. If you don't let him experiment in small ways now, he will very likely experiment in big and dangerous ways later on.

I think a more appropriate "punishment" if you will, is that he has to help you think of ways to express his disagreements with you in a healthy way, and you need to be prepared to remind him and work through it, because he is FOUR, and it is not easy to remember to be good/polite/communicative when you are four (especially if you are eating a lot of sugar?).

I really think you should have meeting with him and dh tonight to apologize to him, and take back this grounding. It is not fair, and I believ it will serve to be counter productive. Instead, why don't you all work on some fun charts or games to express his feelings and for you to find a way to manage him in ways that are acceptable to everyone.

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#15 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 09:09 PM
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It's too late this time, but I think I would have made the punishment no egg hunt, but let him go to Grandma's. The natural consequence (for me) of the dirty shirt issue is that I remove it for him and he can go shirtless if he doesn't want to get a clean one to put on. (And I'd only make him remove the dirty shirt if it was so dirty that it was going to ruin furniture it came in contact with. If it just had some food stains or a little outside dirt, I'd leave it alone.) For the cupcake, I'm not sure I'd care how he ate it. If he didn't want my advice, fine. For the thermos, he'll go thirsty and not get anything to drink while out. But for the noises in the car... we turn around, go home, and don't go out again the rest of the day. Or at least he doesn't get to. Older brother can go egg hunting if he was cooperative in the car.

But yeah, I agree with others that esp on Easter, it doesn't make sense to punish Grandma by not letting them go to her, and besides, if you're having a rough time, TAKE THE BREAK!!! My goodness, I think if I had a day like that and no plans to go to Grandma's, I'd be calling her up begging her to take them anyway! I hope it gets better for you soon.
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#16 of 20 Old 04-03-2010, 10:54 PM
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I imagine your dh was upset because he feels like you are punishing his mother. I'm sure she looks forward to her sleepovers with your boys. It's not fair to change her plans because your child misbehaved. While your husband didn't verbalize it well, I think you might want to think of consequences that don't involve outside parties, especially his mother. You said this was the cause of a fight before; it's obviously an issue he feels strongly about.

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#17 of 20 Old 04-04-2010, 01:37 AM
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You are in conflict with your entire family on Easter weekend. I wonder if you have good, wonderful, close memories of your own Easters as a child. Or if maybe *you* are a little more emotional around the holiday for reasons of your own history.

Yes, you are out of line. You are wise to get other opinions. Especially after your husband expressed so much pain last summer when you did it before.

Perhaps an apology and and a fresh start is in order.
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#18 of 20 Old 04-04-2010, 01:44 AM
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I don't think it's fair to your MIL, but I also don't think that this kind of Russian Roulette style parenting works. If you're going to use punishment, then you need to come up with things that are small and can be delivered immediately after the incident. When you wait until the 10th incident in 2 days and then suddenly pull out the heavy guns, you end up with a kid who is anxious and insecure, and who constantly tests the limits -- what about 5 things? Can I get away with 6? How long do I have to wait until the clock resets? What about when Grandma's on vacation? . . . .

Instead, if you want to fit punishment into your repetoire (and I'm more OK with that than many here, although it's not the way I happen to parent my particular kid), then make things small. When he doesn't pick up the eggs, lead him to his room, sit him down on his bed, and stay with him until he's ready to pick it up, or make him sit while you pick it up . . . .

Good luck!
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#19 of 20 Old 04-04-2010, 01:51 AM
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It sounds like your little one is just like mine...a strong willed individual...maybe just like his mama? I too have power struggles with my five year old son and not only is his mom a strong willed person, but so is his dad...so! I have to say that you need to find creative ways for your son to feel like he has more control...i let him have more choices about things...but i give him those choices so really im the one in control. i wouldve just said no egg hunt and let him have a chance at changing his behavior because there should only be one punishment per crime; after all he is only 4. i agree with the pp who said to change the approach in the manner in which you react to him. its easy to get out of hand and try to control everything all the time. some of our nature is just built that way!(mine is!) it soooo hard to do that beleive me i know! but staying calm works. if i get frustrated, my son reacts to that energy. if i dont give him anything to react to then it diffuses the situation. as for dh well he has a right to his opinion and you should try to be more understanding of each others feelings...especially when it involves grandmas (inlaws have always been an issue with us) HOWEVER he should be discussing the childrens punishments with you and there are going to be times when both of you have to take one for the team. you are both responsible for the discipline of the kids and you both have to be on the same page or the kids will see right through the facade and challenge it when they see a breakdown in the system. good luck...
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#20 of 20 Old 04-04-2010, 03:57 PM
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I think plenty has been said about taking away grandma's house, and I agree with what most others have said about that and about you and your dh needing to work together.

But, I haven't seen anyone really address the underlying behavior. Maybe you don't really want any feedback on that, but...it seems like you're letting things drag on too long to the point that you're exceptionally frustrated and really want to punish your ds. I agree wholeheartedly with the poster who suggested dealing with things in the moment. Then you're not letting grievances and stresses pile up, making you and the whole family more on edge and ready to snap.

Take the candy and stuff on his floor for example. Why on earth would you let it still be there days later after you've told him to clean it up? To me, this is an excellent example for dealing with it right away. If he doesn't respond to the request to clean it up, pick it up yourself and throw it away. Natural consequence. The cupcake does sound trivial to me, but I can imagine something similar with a slice of cake. If my ds were eating a slice of cake in a rude, piggy manner, then I would have asked him to eat it politely. If he wouldn't, then the cake would go away right then. End of story.

When you let things drag on, you let them really turn into power struggles. If you want your ds to listen, then you need to make sure that there is a reason to do so. Right now it sounds like arguing with you rewards him in some way (for example, he didn't want to clean up the eggs/candy, and he didn't end up having to do so, plus the arguing gives a lot of attention to the behaviors you don't want. All that attention on a negative behavior can reinforce it.

Good luck!
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