Thursday, May 20, 2010

Counter Productive

"Make all negative behavior counter productive". What does this mean? I've read it a hundred times but I don't know if I was fully getting it until recently. Nathan (My almost 11 year old) says "It's like football, they've been on the offensive and us on the defense and they are about to make a touchdown. Our little ones out number the big people in the house right now. Up until recently it felt like they were beginning to take over. After, many nights crying out to God, reading my bible daily, and devouring anything on biblical child training I could get my hands on I think I'm finally getting it. I've always firmly believed in spanking my children for rebellion and foolishness. I always attempt to explain to them why they are being disciplined and give them lots of hugs and affirmation when we're done. That's counter productive for them right? I thought so, but why is it not stopping them from having the same undesirable behavior again and again. So, we've kicked it up a notch. I think we used to be really good at this but lost our way amongst the chaos.

The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15

So, now we ask ourselves. What is my child trying to achieve by acting this way and then, in addition to the spanking we give them the opposite. Examples below but first...

Enter, Hannah.

Calling this precious, 20 lb, 3 year old a handful would be an understatement. Besides having an energy level unlike anything I've ever seen before, she has a physical strength that exceeds her physical appearance by far. Add 2 baby brothers to her first 2 years and 2 months of life and an overwhelmed mommy, you have one hard to manage child. I've potty trained her 3 times. It took almost 2 years to train her to stay in a bed (The rest of the kids less then a week). I could go on but you get the point. Don't get me wrong. I love this little girl with all of my being. She is the sweetest little thing and the greatest big sister. She gives the best hugs and has the sweetest smile on her face 95% of the day...

Sunday (Mother's Day): We went to the park after dinner as a family and had a great time. It began to get a little chilly so as my husband finished up an intense game of tag (I love this man), I took the little ones to the car. Hannah proceeds to throw herself on the parking lot ground in protest of leaving the park before "She" was finished. I spanked her to no avail. So, I picked her up and placed her in her car seat. It took all of my physical strength to buckle this child in her seat. Normally this would throw me into despair crying all the way home to my husband. Not this time. (My husband is great at encouraging me in these times and the best teammate to have but I'm convinced that my new found energy for my family is a result of filling up on God's precious word consistently. Read Psalm 119). But, I also had a trick play she wasn't aware of. Her hopes in throwing a fit was to stay at the park or at least make us miserable for not granting her wish. Not only did I give her no emotion whatsoever for her little display but I calmly said, "Okay Hannah, you are not going to play next time we come to the park". She paused for a moment and then decided that wasn't so bad cause when would we really go to the park again and Mom will forget by then anyway. And so she continued. All the way home.

Monday (The next day): After dinner I tell everyone to get their shoes on we're going to the park. Shouts of joy from everyone! We get there and I pull out the stroller, explain to Hannah that she won't be playing because she refused to get in her car seat the day before and strapped her in. I parked her next to the playground and we all had a good time.
This was not enjoyable for me but because I love her I cannot allow these fits to continue. I know many adults, who live their lives exercising they're self will, constantly self indulging with no thought to consequences on them or those they love. And as a woman who, in my flesh can throw a great big fit when I don't get my way knows, this is not something she will grow out of on her own. I want her to learn to yield her will to do mighty things for God someday. So, as we are leaving the park I say, "Okay Hannah, get right in your seat so you can play next time". She excitedly agrees and gets right in the car but, noticing something on the floor does not get in her seat. So, I say again (which I shouldn't have done because I'm trying to mean what I say and say what I mean), "Hannah, get in you seat or you are going to lose play time next time too". I put the stroller in the trunk and come back to her climbing all over the van. "Okay, you lost your play time next time too." Fit #2 begins. Which proves that she's starting to believe me but still undesirable behavior. Same scenario as the day before. I physically put her in her seat.
Tuesday: Back to the park. Pull the stroller out. We all play in the freezing cold while she watches. Time to leave, I say, "Okay, do you want to play next time?". She nods, gets out of the stroller and climbs into her seat and buckles herself! I didn't even know she could do that! I excitedly affirm her good behavior.
Wednesday: Back to the park. Nice weather. Friends come. We have dinner. Hannah plays and plays. Time to leave and she gets right in her seat!!!

This was victory enough for me but I have not had one problem with her getting in her car seat since! Everywhere we go and every time we leave to come home she happily gets right in! Not only am I a happier Mommy in these situations but she's happy too! Some of you might be saying, "That's a lot of work". Yes, but she already was a lot of work but now it's a lot less work to go somewhere.


Our Family Blog said...

WONDERFUL! Great and encouraging. Thank you.

Applejacks32 said...

I enjoy reading your blog Season. You are so calm and nurturing to your children.

Aly sun said...

I'm crying here, Season. As the mom to a very, very strong will daughter, I completely understand. As she has matured (she is now 5.5), I've really become lax in teaching and requiring her obedience. Yesterday I read Grace K's blog post and was very inspired to have higher standards not just for my children, but for myself as well.

Yesterday the fight began again as I held her to the house rules. Oh, the pain. Oh, the agony (for her and me both). We missed library story time because of it. Today we've already had 2 incidents, but they are getting progressively shorter and less dramatic.

Thanks for your encouragement. God is good.

Heather C said...

Season - I am new to your blog and I am already so encouraged! Thank you! I have a strong willed son who sounds very much like your precious little one. He too is such a joy - when he is choosing to behave - but the other times are really hard. I wanted to ask you a question about how you might handle that scenario if it were a little different. If you were to take her out of the car, put her in the stroller and she sat and threw a loud fit - what would you do with that? Spank? What if that didn't stop it? (That is what I would picture my son doing - not to say that I shouldn't try, but I would love to have an idea of what to do going into it. And if you have any suggestions I'm all ears). Thanks again!