Here’s Part One, if you missed it.
8. If you want to stop some undesirable behavior, start doing it yourself. If you don’t like their choice in music, get a couple of their favorite CDs and start boppin’ around the house with the stereo on full blast. Women, wear hoochie clothes as necessary. Men, drop those drawers down around your butt crack. After all, how cool can it be if you like it?
9. Draw your line in the sand and stick to it. But choose wisely. Not everything is going to be of the utmost importance. Don’t be influenced by other parents; peer pressure isn’t just for kids. My friend was stunned when she found out I allow my children to go hungry rather than make them something that “wasn’t gross” for dinner. And I was stunned when she listed the television shows she allows her kids to watch. Decide what you can live with and what makes you crazy.
10. Teach the difference between tattling and telling. “Tattling” is when you’re trying to get someone in trouble. “Telling” is when someone is bleeding, burning, or exploding.
11. Understand and never underestimate the differences between kids. During their formative years, if I looked cross-eyed at my daughter, she’d be upset for a week. If I wanted my middle son to pay attention to what I said, I had to turn off the television, cradle his chin gently in my hand, look him in the eye, then drop a brick on him. My youngest would fly off the handle, sometimes with no real provocation, shrieking like a violin gone sour. Five minutes later he’d be smiling sweetly, ready to listen to what I wanted to say to him. About the time I figured out what worked, they’d change. Don’t ever expect the strategy that works for one child to work for another child. And don’t expect the strategy that works for one child to work on that same child thirty minutes later.
12. Every once in a while, bewilder your children. After dinner ask, “Who is doing dishes tonight?” If one of them volunteers, thank them but pick someone else. Tomorrow, when someone volunteers, thank them and let them do the dishes. Be completely random about it. But, if anyone ever says “Not me” or volunteers someone else, they always do the dishes. You’ve gotta have some consistency. Sometimes the bewilderment is unplanned, but still effective. I was very pregnant and my husband wasn’t home. For some reason I felt compelled to discipline my full-figured three-year-old which involved, of all things, lugging him to his room. However, when we got to the stairway, he grabbed on to the railing and held on like a pit bull on a porterhouse. I absolutely couldn’t budge this freakishly strong child. Accepting the ridiculous situation, I collapsed in helpless laughter on the bottom step. He was totally bewildered and to this day does not understand why the punishment ended in gales of laughter on that bottom step.
13. Keep your sense of humor at all times. If you don’t, they’ll tattle to your mother that you threatened to leave and never come back. Trust me on this. They will.
Part Three continues tomorrow ….
When did you figure out that other people’s discipline was weird and yours was perfectly logical?