Lisa McFarland is one of four top blogger candidates hoping to join the momaha team. We’ll have blog posts from each of the finalists this week. Tell us what you think of Lisa’s post by leaving a comment at the end of this column or emailing email@example.com
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Recently, we were really challenged by my oldest son’s behavior. He was repeatedly disregarding the rules, and dawdling to the point of making everyone late. The frustrating part was that no matter what discipline we tried, we made no progress. He continued to misbehave, as if to see what he could get away with. This may be typical behavior for a 9-year-old, but his 30-something parents were struggling.
I consider disciplining my children to be the most difficult aspects of parenting. Dealing with my children’s behaviors can be stressful, exhausting, and emotional—and with 5 of the little darlings, I have seen my share of behaviors! I don’t always say or do the right thing.
Other parents seem to be struggling with discipline, too. The media has been full of stories about the creative ideas parents have come up with to deal with their children’s behaviors. I have read about parents selling toys on eBay, making their children drink hot sauce, giving their child cold showers, shaving their child’s hair off, whipping their child with a belt and then posting a video of it on Twitter, and shooting their laptops.
Another type of “creative” discipline that seems popular is sign shaming. In a recent example, Brandon Mathison, 13, of South Carolina, got caught smoking pot. In order to teach him a lesson, his mother made him wear a sign that said “Smoked Pot, got caught. Don’t I look cool? Not.” Check out the full story here.
Brandon and these other children were embarrassed in the media by parents whose actions could be considered misguided at best and abusive at worst, as some of these parents have been charged with child abuse. I can’t condone their discipline choices, but, as a parent, I can identify with the frustration, anger, and disappointment that may have led them to do what they did.
But what to do with my son? I, too, needed to be creative, but in a way that wouldn’t garner media attention! After some brainstorming, the concept of McFarland Time-In was born.
During time-in, with the exception of basic privacy needs, my son was always to be with me or my spouse, and he was to do what we were doing. He could talk to us as much as he wanted, he could have all the affection he wanted, but he was on our time. If he took too long to get ready, he went without.
Time-in was wildly successful. My son enjoyed the attention and certain activities like cooking dinner, but he hated not having the freedom to go outside or play video games. After going without his beloved pj’s one night after dawdling, you should have seen how fast he dressed in the morning! He learned pretty quickly that he would rather follow the rules than do what we do all the time. In fact, time-in might have been a little too successful, because our younger son got a bit jealous!
I am far from a perfect parent and have a lot to learn about discipline. I will never be the author of a successful parenting book or the winner of a mother of the year award. But I did feel like a success when I solved our recent discipline problem—without making an appearance on Dr. Phil!
What are some of the creative ways you have come up with for disciplining your child? What do you think about sign shaming and other forms of extreme discipline?
Lisa McFarland is a wife, mother, and an attorney with five children — ages 2, 4, 8, 9, and 15. (Three of them are adopted.) Lisa and her family make it through the week largely through the efforts of her husband, Shane, who is a stay-at-home dad and “an organizational tyrant.”
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We’ll have blog posts from each of the finalists this week. Make sure to read blog posts from our other candidates, including Tunette Powell’s “Romney, PBS: The price of a boy’s smile”; Cathy Keck Adcock’s “Give a kid a chance… foster a child” ; Chris Donnelly’s “Stop judging how large of family I have.”