Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Do I Do?

You'll have to excuse me, folks: over the next couple of weeks, I'm pretty full of questions. I signed up for the Carnival of Natural Parenting and April's topic is parenting advice. We are supposed to write a 'Dear Abby'-type letter to our readers asking for advice on a certain parenting issue we are dealing with.

Well, I've already written my post, but I find myself finding more and more questions that need to be asked, advice that I could really use. So, I hope you don't mind me leaning on you a little bit here, but I could use your help.

The question at hand today is this: As an attachment parent, how do I deal with my 5 year old daughter's newfound bad attitude? Gracie has always been sassy but it's really coming out now that she's figured out how to push my buttons. She tells me no when I ask her to do things, she makes threats when I tell her no ("Fine then! If you won't read this book to me right now then I'll just throw all my books away and never read again."), she throws temper tantrums (in which a lot of times she actually throws things around in her room).

Part of my problem is that I didn't start using AP philosophies until Kairi was born. Not consciously at least. I'm sure it was there in doses, as I generally try to be as gentle and loving as possible to my kids, but Gracie had 4 years of no real defined, specific style parenting.

For a long time I spanked Gracie when she did something wrong. Now, I'm not saying that if you spank your kids that you're a bad parent by any means - I'm not going to call it child abuse - but I just found that it wasn't working for me. Sure, it was yielding most of the behavior I wanted, but I felt HORRIBLE about myself as a mom each time I did it. I also found myself spanking her for the smallest, most minute actions when I had originally set out to only spank as a last resort and only when she had done something really bad. I found that my child feared me. I don't want to be that parent.

So I quit spanking and started discussing why the things she was doing weren't acceptable behavior, occasionally throwing in some time out or removing certain play objects from her possession for a while, always trying to keep it behavior appropriate (ie- I'm not going to take away her doll if she hit her sister, but if she wouldn't share her doll with her sister I would take it then.)

For a while it was working great. Gracie understood what was wrong and what was right and she understood when she got into trouble exactly why it was she was in trouble and what she could do instead next time to avoid the trouble. But now she's just developing this... I don't know... attitude. I don't even know how to shrink it down into just one word really. She's not responding to discipline the same way she has. She gets more upset when she gets in trouble and it does less good.

So - what do you do when your kids get into trouble? What do you do when you find that your current disciplinary tactics aren't quite fitting the bill and need perhaps a small overhaul? What new techniques to you incorporate? How do you maintain consistency throughout?

Edit: Just noting that this is not my submission for the Carnival of Natural Parenting. That post will be coming up on Tuesday the 13th. Keep an eye out for it, won't you?


MommyLovesStilettos said...

I just try really really hard to stay strong and always remember that I am the parent, she is the child. Ultimately I have control of the situation. For my daughter it works best to send her to her room to let her chill out and calm herself down (it gives me time to simmer down as well). And I tell her she is welcome to come back out when she has a better attitude. I don't set a time limit, I let her decide. It's worked REALLY well for us.

Anonymous said...

I am with you Erin! I don't know what to do with Little Miss here. Yesterday she tried to take the Zinc Cream. I told her this can hurt her if she plays with it and the it's not 'cream' cream. DH comes home and we are talking about work and his daughter. Meanwhile DD is in the room opening up the zinc cream.... HEAD-to-TOE, on the blankets, on the wall, on the floor...

Just that morning I removed everything from that room and swept and washed floors. I was not impressed. For the first time I told DH that he needs to deal with this or I will loose it on her. As you know it's been like this all week.

I wish I signed up to the Carnival of Natural Parenting. Maybe I would get something...

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

I have a 2-year-old, so what do I know! But I've heard a great tactic for situations like this is time-ins. You say something like, Sounds like someone needs a time-in, and you scoop her up and the two of you go sit together and snuggle and reconnect. It's like the opposite of punishment, and it's supposed to surprise and delight the crankies out of her and give you guys a chance to talk about what's bothering her. The point isn't to make it a lecture period, of course, but to just let her be, even if she's still angry. Again, I have a 2-year-old, and I am the worst one ever for flying off the handle at little things, but that's how I want to parent. I feel like if kids are acting up like that they're usually hungry for attention, and it's better for us (me) to fill their cup with positive attention rather than an alternative.

A book I loved that really changed my perspective on discipline was Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn, if you haven't read it. Seriously love that book. There's also a DVD where he summarizes his points — our library had it, and that was the way I got my husband initially interested since he wouldn't read the book! :) (And he has since read the book, so go figure!)

Oh, hey, did you see Baby Dust Diaries is doing a Gentle Discipline Carnival this month? Maybe you could write and/or read something there!

oursentiments: Maybe you could post a question on your blog on carnival day (Tuesday, April 13) and invite people over anyway! :)

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