Unconditional Parenting Chapter 4: Punitive Damages - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 04-15-2009, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry I've been a bad discussion host! I missed starting the thread for Chapter 4, but here it is now!
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#2 of 24 Old 04-16-2009, 01:21 AM
 
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This chapter makes sooo much sense to me. I wish I could quickly come up with a quote... but the overall punishment doesn't work for all the reasons he mentions runs true throughout my life... me being punished, trying to use punishments in a school setting, and with my own kids.

This is something that stood out for me when reading Parent Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon which I mentioned before. In it Gordon talks about parents and teens having so many issues because the threats don't work anymore particularly in the long run even when immediately it may seem to at least to a degree. And I've seen/felt this in school as well. Punishment just doesn't work.

What I found very interesting in this chapter is Kohn mentions Gordon twice in it. The first time at the top of page 65 (assuming most people have the same numbering) makes me think that Kohn doesn't agree with Gordon and I'm trying to remember what he might not have agreed with but it's been a while since I read that book (and like Kohn, Gordon has written many books so he could be referencing something else.) But then on page 68 he adds a quote from Gordon so maybe he does agree with him at least partly? I guess I will have to go back and reread it again. I'm just hoping that it does align with Kohn's thinking. Anyone else ever read it and perhaps remember more about it?

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Sorry I've been a bad discussion host! I missed starting the thread for Chapter 4, but here it is now!
there is no 'bad'...remember?! you do not deserve punishment. remember...you won't thrive on that. we love you and are in this together...in LOVE instead of fear, in CONNECTION instead of coercion !!!
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who would have ever thought as they held their newborn that some day they would want to force their dc to endure negative and hurtful experiences- on purpose! to "teach them a lesson".
kohn points out that people often try to "salve our conscience [by] giving fair warning... repackaging them as consequences.....use time-out instead of spanking" in fact i think most people are lead down these paths by mainstream parenting- don't hit give them a warning, let them experience the natural consequence. i admit at first it doesn't sound bad but delve deeper and as kohn says its just "punishment lite". i also appreciate his list on why punishment fails i was going to point out a few that really resonates with me but as i look through them again -they all do!
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check THIS out! its near me! www.awakeparent.com :


and have any of you read "Respectful Parents Respectful Kids- 7 keys to turn family conflict into cooperation" by Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson? it looks like it would be another GD related book we might enjoy...in the future, of course...
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who would have ever thought as they held their newborn that some day they would want to force their dc to endure negative and hurtful experiences- on purpose! to "teach them a lesson".
kohn points out that people often try to "salve our conscience [by] giving fair warning... repackaging them as consequences.....use time-out instead of spanking" in fact i think most people are lead down these paths by mainstream parenting- don't hit give them a warning, let them experience the natural consequence. i admit at first it doesn't sound bad but delve deeper and as kohn says its just "punishment lite". i also appreciate his list on why punishment fails i was going to point out a few that really resonates with me but as i look through them again -they all do!
'punishment lite' is right........i truly am beginning to fully believe that some of us are just more conscious-analyitical...whatever it may be...we wish to grow...we wish to improve...

so many of these 'mainstreamers' seem so oblivious to the obvious, ya know? its all about THEM and their island of false paradise and comfort zones...its all about ME ME ME. instead of WE WE WE. its like they don't even want to consider the real reasoning of why they do what they do or how they do it..................i think some people are just plain shallow. sure does seem like that, at least... i believe many of us are on a journey of discovery and transformation...but so many parents are convinced and self righteous that their way or their parents way is THE way or like kohn points out, substitute what they think are milder forms of 'discipline' aka punishments and rewards.

i just can't relate (nor even tolerate at this point...cuz that type of 'guidance' is not ok to me!!!) to those who don't think outside the box....who don't even delve deeper...they just stay on the surface...it is so mind boggling to me, actually... sigh. unfortunately, they are the majority of parents who make up our culture here... it can be so lonely going against the grain...but i sooo want to just keep goin'....................................so i will. : spreadin' the love...
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#7 of 24 Old 04-16-2009, 02:32 PM
 
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What I found very interesting in this chapter is Kohn mentions Gordon twice in it. The first time at the top of page 65 (assuming most people have the same numbering) makes me think that Kohn doesn't agree with Gordon and I'm trying to remember what he might not have agreed with but it's been a while since I read that book (and like Kohn, Gordon has written many books so he could be referencing something else.) But then on page 68 he adds a quote from Gordon so maybe he does agree with him at least partly? I guess I will have to go back and reread it again. I'm just hoping that it does align with Kohn's thinking. Anyone else ever read it and perhaps remember more about it?
i reviewed pages 65 and 68 and i think it sure looks like kohn and gordon are of the same thinking re. this...
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I just returned my overdue copy of the book today, so you all will have to bear w/ me if I cannot remember exactly where things are mentioned or if I may ask you to quote something. THANK YOU

Mommabear, could you list the reasons, please. I dont need the explanations, just the reasons. I would like to write them down. TIA.

Can I just say that this was my FAVOURITE chapter in the book?!? EVERYTHING Kohn said made perfect sense! It really made me think about how punishment (consequences, etc.. For future reference, I will most likely refer to all of this as just "punishment" for typing ease. And, b/c really, lets call a spade a spade here.) is ALL revenge-seeking behaviour! Years ago, my own husband offered me an example from his own life that highlighted this. Before we were married, we were discussing how we wanted to discipline our future kids. He was adamantly against grounding children. He said that cutting kids off from their friends was one of the most horrible things a parent could do. He also said it was useless for teaching a lesson. The example he gave was that his best friend did something (failed a class or something) and got grounded for the whole summer. Did his friend "learn his lesson"? No. He spent the whole summer plotting ways to get revenge on his parents! Interestingly, what my husband thought would be a better idea than grounding was to assign absolutely meaningless tasks to the child. Things that were annoying, but not harmful, and that when the child was done, punishment was over and they could go do as they pleased. Stuff like cut up a piece of paper into 1"x1" squares and then tape it back together. Oh, we had fun coming up w/ all kinds of goofy punishments, like write a report on aardvarks, wash the kitchen floor w/ a sponge, cut the grass w/ scissors, etc. I said that every time my kids p*ssed me off, I would have them wash the kitchen floor. Hey, if they are going to be punished, they might as well clean my house, lol! What is YOU sitting in time-out doing for ME? Nothing, so get in there and get the sponge HAHA! DH also thinks that taking away a child's possessions is horrible, so you can see what I had to work w/ here! (not much!)

Now, I can definitely see how if your child destroys something that belongs to someone else, it would be appropriate to have them work to pay for it or to repair it. I always think of the tv shows where the kid was nasty to the elderly neighbor so the parents make him do stuff like mow the neighbor's lawn & the kid gets to know the neighbor and develops a friendship.. Maybe I am living in Lalaland w/ that story, but I still think it's a good idea to help kids fix their mistakes themselves rather than always bailing them out or explaining it away for them. That, I think, is way different than just punishment, it is fixing what went wrong.

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so many of these 'mainstreamers' seem so oblivious to the obvious, ya know? its all about THEM and their island of false paradise and comfort zones...its all about ME ME ME. instead of WE WE WE. its like they don't even want to consider the real reasoning of why they do what they do or how they do it..................i think some people are just plain shallow.
I think a LOT of parents are like this, and it is not just mainstreamers. I know a lot of AP-style parents who praise a lot, give time-outs, and use "natural consequences". I even know some who spank. AP is a pick & choose state of being. Just like you dont have to extended breast feed to be AP, you can spank your kids and do everything else AP. But you hit the nail on the head when you said it is a bout ME ME ME. What is better, easier, and faster for ME. Forget about the crying child, what does he know? Doesnt he know that I have X, Y, & Z to get done and I dont have time to worry about what he wants? Doesnt he know that Im tired and need a break?

I also think that A LOT of punishment comes from parents not knowing what else to do. It takes a lot of thinking to avoid spanking, but anyone can smack a kid (even another kid, lol). Even parents who say that they dont want to spank will, in the same breath, say that they do not have the time (or energy) to read a book on discipline. Or they try something different for a short time and claim that it doesnt work. I have a friend who says that time-outs do not work w/ her young daughter. Now, excuse me, but Super Nanny is able to stop children *who spit in their parents' faces* by giving them a time-out, and you want to tell me that it "doesnt work"!!! I know for a fact that if you follow her time-out routine exactly as she lays it out, it DOES get children to behave b/c I used to use it w/ toddlers at work. Other parents may use time-outs effectively, but have no idea how to not have to rely on them b/c they dont know how to talk *with* their children instead of *to* them. They say that their kid does not listen unless they yell or threaten or send them to time-out. But they never ask reflective questions or say things in an understanding way.

Okay, I know Im writing my own book here, lol, but Ive really been waiting for this chapter discussion! I also loved what Kohn had to say about "natural consequences" not teaching children about logic, but about how you could have been kind, but werent. I know I said this before, but this book really energized me to commit to not hitting my kid and to being her guide, not her jailer. I dont WANT my children to be afraid of me. I was afraid of my mom and it sucked! Well, I wasnt afraid of *her as a person*, but I was afraid of getting into trouble b/c she would totally flip out. She was not abusive, but she was not gentle, either. Long ago, I said to myself that I didnt want to be an a-hole parent, and I think this book and this group are really helping me to achieve that goal Thanks again, Super Glue Mommy, for starting this discussion!

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#9 of 24 Old 04-16-2009, 06:03 PM
 
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check THIS out! its near me! www.awakeparent.com :


and have any of you read "Respectful Parents Respectful Kids- 7 keys to turn family conflict into cooperation" by Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson? it looks like it would be another GD related book we might enjoy...in the future, of course...
That book is one it's way to me along with "Between parent and child" and "Adventures in Gentle Discipline". :

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#10 of 24 Old 04-16-2009, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Thats on my list-to-order, and I have between parent in child in my "in box"
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ok so reasons punishments fail are:
-it makes people mad
-it models the use of power
-it eventually loses its effectiveness
-it erodes our relationships with our kids
-it distracts kids from the important issues
-it makes kids more self-centered

also wanted to add that i think these methods are used not only cause they don't know what else to do but likely cause it was done to them or maybe they were spanked so it seems gentle to TO etc.
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#12 of 24 Old 04-16-2009, 08:26 PM - Thread Starter
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who would have ever thought as they held their newborn that some day they would want to force their dc to endure negative and hurtful experiences- on purpose! to "teach them a lesson".
kohn points out that people often try to "salve our conscience [by] giving fair warning... repackaging them as consequences.....use time-out instead of spanking" in fact i think most people are lead down these paths by mainstream parenting- don't hit give them a warning, let them experience the natural consequence. i admit at first it doesn't sound bad but delve deeper and as kohn says its just "punishment lite". i also appreciate his list on why punishment fails i was going to point out a few that really resonates with me but as i look through them again -they all do!
Later in the book, not to spoil, Kohn says " When an infant is crying, most of us will try to figure out what's bothering her. But we may be less willing to imaginatively enter the world of an older child who is yelling and stamping her feet" p207

just thought that was relevant. I hear so so so many parents, even those who classify themselves as "AP", who have belief in their baby, not belief in their toddler or child. If only they could apply the same philosophies toward the non-infant. Society as a whole trusts adults. Then we have people who trust infants and adults. A smaller population seems to be able to trust the former and the latter AND everything in between.

Okay, onto what stood out to me from Chapter 4:

p65 he talks about punishment packaged as consequences. And how spelling out how you plan to punish is more for the parents conscience but is still a threat to the child. Also on the time outs instead of spanking, as if those are the only 2 options available... but both are punitive - I get this now - but many people don't, and are not willing to...

Also how he notes on p 71 that when punishment isn't working people think they need to try different kind of punishment or more punishment. Yes, lets try MORE of whats NOT working...

I like how he says that this basically claims that without coercive enforcement children will ignore the most important people in their world. What a bizarre thing to assume - and yet, I've been there myself! I really like how he puts things into perspective.

I'm out of time but tomorrow I want to touch a few points on pages 72 and 73. (writing this for myself to remember where I want to pick up)
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Also how he notes on p 71 that when punishment isn't working people think they need to try different kind of punishment or more punishment. Yes, lets try MORE of whats NOT working...

I like how he says that this basically claims that without coercive enforcement children will ignore the most important people in their world. What a bizarre thing to assume - and yet, I've been there myself! I really like how he puts things into perspective.
I loved this point, too. It's funny how the only form of correction/direction that no one ever says kids need more of is brainstorming and team problem solving.

I do remember, though, as a child, not listening to my parents b/c I didnt want to. They would say to unload the dishwasher or do my homework or feed the dog, and if I didnt want to, I just wouldnt. I think that point is another one that is not black and white. Yes, our kids want US more than anyone else in the world, but we will still tell them things that they do not want to hear.

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Also on the time outs instead of spanking, as if those are the only 2 options available... but both are punitive - I get this now - but many people don't, and are not willing to...
Well, I think this may be where Kohn loses people and gets called radical. People who are trying to become more AP by committing to not spanking their children view TO as a nice alternative -- and then Kohn blows it out of the water. ARRGGGHH! Especially when his reasons for not using TO make sense. So, now what? KWIM?
That's where the really committed parent has to say, "Crap. To do this, I have to really change. Not just swap out TO for spanking..."
This is one of those books I'm gonna have to keep reading... and reading... and...

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yep I agree. Some peopel arent ready to REALLY change. well put!

p72 he makes the point about children growing to believe that causing people pain is part of what it means to love them.

p73 his analagy with apples - one rotton apple spoils the barrel- meaning we have to get rid of the bad methods/apples (such as punishment and rewards) instead of just piling good apples on top, or using punishment with other healthy practices.... at the same time, I would hope the average reader would not constrew this to mean if they make one mistake then they ruin everything.. I think in that case it would be like, if you put a rotten apple in the barrel, and then you see its rotten, take it out. It won't ruin everything to make a mistake - you just have to be willing to fix your mistakes.
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I just returned my overdue copy of the book today, so you all will have to bear w/ me if I cannot remember exactly where things are mentioned or if I may ask you to quote something. THANK YOU




I think a LOT of parents are like this, and it is not just mainstreamers. I know a lot of AP-style parents who praise a lot, give time-outs, and use "natural consequences". I even know some who spank. AP is a pick & choose state of being. Just like you dont have to extended breast feed to be AP, you can spank your kids and do everything else AP. But you hit the nail on the head when you said it is a bout ME ME ME. What is better, easier, and faster for ME. Forget about the crying child, what does he know? Doesnt he know that I have X, Y, & Z to get done and I dont have time to worry about what he wants? Doesnt he know that Im tired and need a break?

!
sorry, if i might add to my thoughts from PP where i said that...i think that many "AP" parents are doing it cuz its 'trendy' and yet also cuz their instincts are pulling them to live in truth in re. to how they truly should be raising and loving their dc...but many are living w/ a SO who doesn't go all the way w/ their APing and/or still holds negative beliefs about relating to/with and raising dc... and so they are scared (usually its the mom) to have stress in that relationship...like so many dads don't care to share the bed w/ the kids anymore or at all.....cuz of their false thinking that it will somehow take away from their sex life......etc. and they get jealous of the kid being there snuggling too w/ mama...its as if many APers are doing a lot of what they do cuz they are now accepted by so many other in the so-called AP community so they do it. but there is still that comfort zone so many are afraid to go beyond...like us only we are trying our damndest to go beyond. :
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p. 72, "It creates the warped idea, which children may carry with them, through their lives, that causing people pain is part of what it means to love them." This makes my eyes water. This is the circle of what is wrong in our society.
This is why he talks about bad apple metaphor. Hopefully any average reader who has made it to Chapter 4 (thereby perhaps not being average) understands, yes, it is ok to make and correct mistakes, but our "toolboxes" must be emptied of all punitive methods if we are to do this right.

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Later in the book, not to spoil, Kohn says " When an infant is crying, most of us will try to figure out what's bothering her. But we may be less willing to imaginatively enter the world of an older child who is yelling and stamping her feet" p207

just thought that was relevant. I hear so so so many parents, even those who classify themselves as "AP", who have belief in their baby, not belief in their toddler or child. If only they could apply the same philosophies toward the non-infant. Society as a whole trusts adults. Then we have people who trust infants and adults. A smaller population seems to be able to trust the former and the latter AND everything in between.

Also how he notes on p 71 that when punishment isn't working people think they need to try different kind of punishment or more punishment. Yes, lets try MORE of whats NOT working...

I)
isn't that the truth, supergluemommy...about peole nurturing and being calm and patient w/ babies and some w/ adults but not w/ kids in between...so true. why is this!?!?! i think a lot of it is how our culture sets us up. cuz in some cultures kids are totally revered and honored. they help around and feel good about themselves...hmmm.

what do tribal people in say, africa or... pygmy's...or...how the native americans were before the white man came and took their land...? is there any documentation on this? how about people in peru or bali 'discipline'/raise their dc??? anyone know? (and btw, i'm NOT talking about those people who've converted to christianity, influenced by punitive disciplining of dc...no fire and brimstone or guilt tripping stuff...just those who are living their natural 'state' of being...) are they violent w/ their dc??? (also not talking about places that do female genital mutilation/circumsicion) just wondering...

i did a really stupid thing yesterday. i wound up smacking dd on her butt once at the end of the day...my dd was driving me nuts by continually hurting one of her best friends feelings. it was heartbreaking. my dd kept doing things like being rude...which more often than not, makes her friend fall apart and cry. or she ripped up her friends' raffle ticket stub...just to be mean. her friend fell apart on that one... my dd kept spouting water at her friend...her friend tried to avoid it once and she is a very clumsy awkward girl...she wound up hitting her head on the pool hand rail that is on the steps...so over and over and over my dd did this all day long (we were at an earth day festival).

oh and then after the festival dd's other best friends' family was at our community pool swimming...they were just leaving (darn!) but when we mamas set a playdate for tomorrw and i told my dd, she said NO, i don't want one w/ E. i will be with D...........said in a really bratty uncaring tone. again, my heart broke. eva looked soooo sad. i said fine, E, then you and i and S (my baby boy) will hang out and have a blast.

so finally when my dd pushed her friend going towards our stairs to our condo, i lost it. after trying over and over and over again all day long to get my dd to tell me WHY oh WHY she was being so cruel and her continuing her mean behavior i had had it. my heart was broken, i was totally disappointed in her and embarassed in front of her friend.

at one point yesterday i realized dd probably needed some protein in her system...and that that was probably why she was being so nasty. no...that only helped so long. maybe she was over-stimulated? there was a LOT going on. hmmm. i just don't know. all i know is i felt awful (and still do) that i hit her...rudeness and cruelty doesn't change rudeness and cruelty. what i was thinking...??? i just wanted dd to stop being so mean!!! and it did work. she DID stop...at least to her friend D...we shall see how she is today w/ E...sigh.

but WHAT do i do when my dd is being so mean like that and WILL NOT STOP?! i didn't want to leave that festival...we were there from 11am to 4pm. it was just great. fun for all... i didn't want her to feel punished w/ a consequence. i just wanted her and her friends to have fun together...enjoy the bouncy house, going from booth to booth, seeing school friends around...petting dogs...dancing to the music...eating yummy food...

so what could i have done besides try and talk w/ her eye to eye, heart to heart? she was just not giving me eye contact. it was horrible. hmmm. advice please. was she maybe doing a pull me/push me thing since she and i are still overcoming a vicious cycle??? i bet that is what it is and she was taking it out on her friends...? i also know being 'bossy' and 'controlling' is common for 6yo's... but this was overboard when she wouldn't stop. sigh...help. oh and yes, i said i was sorry almost immediately after spanking her butt...i told her that was wrong, as she knows, and that that doesn't teach her or me anything about loving another...
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Originally Posted by foodmachine View Post
. Hopefully any average reader who has made it to Chapter 4 (thereby perhaps not being average) understands, yes, it is ok to make and correct mistakes, but our "toolboxes" must be emptied of all punitive methods if we are to do this right.
this is NOT easy though when we have all these issues from how WE were raised...etc. you all know this...i don't even need to say that... i'm sure even alfie goofs up. we are not perfect. we screw up (like i did yesterday when i finally snapped and did a very hurtful thing to my dd...). i wonder if there are actually parents out there who are always non-punitive, non-rewarding...maybe if they were raised that way, then they probably are that way naturally...but man its hard when we are reprogramming ourselves...our emotional minds/egos want to resort back to that old way...........quick fix when really it is not a fix at all...it is making the issue so much worse, and the relationship more and more disconnected. sigh...

i'm trying so hard to be all that i can be...all that i was created to be...

so as i said in my PP...what can i do for my dd (and myself) and her friends when she is like this??? any ideas?
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#20 of 24 Old 04-19-2009, 01:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by foodmachine View Post
That book is one it's way to me along with "Between parent and child" and "Adventures in Gentle Discipline". :
there is a compassionate communication parenting class next saturday in my town that i wish to take and they use that book (or give us a copy of it)... i am so excited to take this class. i just need to work out childcare...
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#21 of 24 Old 04-19-2009, 01:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by dogretro View Post
I loved this point, too. It's funny how the only form of correction/direction that no one ever says kids need more of is brainstorming and team problem solving.

I do remember, though, as a child, not listening to my parents b/c I didnt want to. They would say to unload the dishwasher or do my homework or feed the dog, and if I didnt want to, I just wouldnt. I think that point is another one that is not black and white. Yes, our kids want US more than anyone else in the world, but we will still tell them things that they do not want to hear.
i didn't even attempt team problem solving... one reason is my dd's friend D is sooo passive. she just shuts down when she's hurting. most of the time she isn't very proactive. she tattles on my dd a lot and it drives me batty, to be honest...i always will redirect her to my dd and tell her to tell my dd what she told me...and i'm thinking it fuels my dd's cruelty to her friend...at she told me...so yeah, she will then tell my dd to stop whatever she didn't like and so on...but that doesn't stop my dd. (lol my ds just pinched dd's nipple! they are laughing...i am too)

i also was the same way, dogreto...if i didn't feel like doing something as a child/teen, i didn't do it. still is very hard for me as an adult to do things i don't want to do. even if it needs to be done... do dishes, clean up toys, get to dd's school on time when i'm sooo tired...etc. my parents were either really scary and freaking out on me...or they were totally permissive. i pretty much ruled the family. (i was the only child) so i have a lot of that 'entitlement' mentality i think...

sigh. so a lot of the time its like i'm a kid raising 2 kids...that is what it feels like...
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#22 of 24 Old 04-21-2009, 11:47 AM
 
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HELLO?! (echo: HELLO?!) anyone there??? (echo: anyone there???)
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#23 of 24 Old 04-21-2009, 05:55 PM
 
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I'm working a lot and preparing to travel a very long distance for a very short period of time (long flights and layovers, just DD and me - wish me luck.)
But I have read the next chapter and will jump in probably during my night shift next week.

wife to DH mama to DD14 Jan '08 and DS 6 Sept '10
and 2 rescued greyhounds
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#24 of 24 Old 04-22-2009, 01:12 PM
 
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Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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