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Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Door that let Murphy in

The story I'm about to tell is true. If it had involved different parties, maybe the story wouldn't need to be told at all because it would have been resolved quickly and would have just been a parenting misstep.

I don't think I'm any different than other parents that wish to raise responsible and caring children. I read parenting books, I've probably read more books about raising children, teaching morals & values, how to's of parenting than most. I still have a parenting book arsenal, one that I refer to when I feel the need.

Danny has always very spirited, I've written about getting fat lips from him head-butting me and his outbursts at times. He has a very strong will and a one-track mind. Last November, we were having one of those periods when he wants what he wants and he wants it right now and discipline with time-outs, grounding, and taking privileges away were not being very effective.

Danny can be very physical, a few times he and Camille had gotten into a physical argument over something trivial like who gets to use the #1 Wii remote. Camille being older (not much bigger) would rather just engage in a physical fight than to get me involved- the only time either of them like me to be involved is if one of them gets hurt and they want to stop and start pointing fingers at each other.

Danny has speech issues, he gets very frustrated when he's in a hurry to communicate or when things are happening faster than he can object to. Yelling is common when he is rushed or he feels some type of immediacy is needed. He also will flat-out refuse to listen and argue with having to stand in the corner or go into a time-out. In about mid-November, I had reached the point where the corner, time-outs and grounding was not very effective. The three months before Christmas is rough for us. Danny is very toy obsessed and it's only gotten it's very worst in the last year.

As a child of divorce, Danny gets to have two households, two separate families and on his Dad's side- that means a LOT of toys. He gets toys just for being at Dad's house from Dad, Poppa (Dad's dad) and even his stepmom's parents. I'm very conservative when it comes to toys, birthdays and Christmas with an occasional 'surprise' every now and then but not because a child demands a toy. Poppa is old-school, he equates loves with money and the more he can buy you, it means the more he loves you. Although I objected to the toy buying due to Danny's developing toy-obsession- my requests went ignored. What's wrong with getting him a toy? He's a good boy? He's my _______ and I'll buy him a toy if I want to.

Well Danny turned into a little Veruca (Willy Wonka). I want ____ and I want it right now! His impatience for waiting for Christmas was growing thin and my patience for his increasing outbursts was growing then as well. I reached into my parenting book arsenal and pulled a book out that I hadn't used in a long time.

Creative Correction
I had always appreciated the 'toolbox' organization of this book. I looked up a few different things to help me try new discipline techniques with Danny. As I read, I saw where I had already used quite a lot of the techniques such as if a child didn't wish to take care of their belongings, put them away for them (for awhile...) and when the child missed it, tell them they could have it once they showed they would take care of it.

To skip all the other techniques I tried in November from the book, I'll get to the one that created so many problems in our life. On page 151, there's a suggestion to spank your child's tongue with hot sauce for lying or disobedience of the tongue. It says to put a few drops on your finger and put your finger on your child's tongue.

Given that Danny's adversarial reaction to discipline was to yell at me and have a fit, I thought I would try it. I didn't feel comfortable sticking my hand in Danny's mouth or somehow forcing the hot sauce into his mouth in any way. I put two drops of Texas Pete hot sauce on a spoon and handed him the spoon to put in his own mouth. I had a glass of water on the counter for him ready. It worked. He didn't like it but it was quick and effective. Danny and I talked about what had happened and why he was being punished and what to do better next time like we always do. We hugged and he went back to playing.

Over the next week or so Danny had hot sauce one more time and the last time was December 2nd, Thursday night. Let me say that hot sauce was not my 'go-to' discipline, I tried time-out and taking privileges away first if the yelling and temper tantrum kept on that's when I would use the hot sauce. On Thursday night, the kids were playing in their playroom and I said it was time to clean up. Camille listened and then I heard yelling between them- Danny wasn't doing his share. I went to Danny and told him to start helping and he didn't want to but he did want Camille to get out of his way of the tv. He started yelling at her to move, she defiantly stood in front of the tv to block his enjoyment and then I turned the tv off and told them to clean together.

A spat or two later, Camille came and told on Danny for not only not helping but creating more of a mess because he didn't want to clean up. I put Danny in the corner and he wouldn't stay. I took away some of his toys which he then tried to rip out of my hands while yelling at me that they're his. Let's go to the kitchen...I gave him two drops of texas pete and he calmed down. He apologized and we hugged. Off to bed with the monkeys and the next morning I kissed Danny on the mouth twice at 6:45 am before sending him off to school.

to be continued...



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