Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Full disclosure

Anyone remember a while back when I wrote about the elaborate behavior system we were using with the older three kids?

Well, um, we chunked it. Actually, it was a little tapered, a little chunked, but it's gone. I figured, since I'd had a decent amount of interest in it, in all fairness, I needed to report that.

And part of its demise was related to that talk we heard this summer, the one I mentioned a post or two ago by the two young ladies regarding parenting, based on how they were parented, etc. Wanna know what #1 was? "Spank your children."* Seriously, they said it was the most significant part of their upbringing and in the upbringings of the kids they babysit and went to school with.

Now, this was to a crowd of people who'd all had plenty of teaching on "how." This was just a reminder "to." And "how" includes not in anger, with reconciliation, and a host of other things. But it was significant enough for them to put it as #1.

We'd already been tapering the whole elaborate system, but that kind of put the final nail in the coffin. We needed a lot more immediate consequences, so we announced that spankings were back (not that they completely went away, just that they had seriously declined). And, just to clarify, spankings at our house are usually swats on the back of the hand or the palm. Only in severe circumstances (lying, mostly, but repeated disobedience, as well) do we spank on the bottom. That's just how we've shaped our discipline system.

And you know what? Life's been a lot more peaceful (I said "more peaceful," not "peaceful;" you take what you can get). And that includes my own heart. One of my famous sayings with my kids is, "No, I'm not going to get angry [a little self-talk there]. I'm just going to give you spankings." Consequences, reconciliation, and move on. It works wonders for my stress level.

Basically, boundaries are firmer, obedience is up. I think it's working for us.

There. I said it. Now, you all know I'm not nearly as erudite as previous posts might have suggested. But we're going with what we feel led to do, and I guess that's more important than my esteem in the eyes of the internet world. :-P

And, just to balance the heaviness, I'll share a fun incentive system we used this summer when we were traveling: each older child got a mini package of Skittles per day (12-15 Skittles included). For each act of disobedience, they gave up a Skittle. At the end of the day (which turned into the next morning, because we were having some bedtime issues), they got to eat what was left. The best part? Guess who got the Skittles they gave up?

*Caveat: If you have anger or past abuse issues that prevent you from being able to safely (whether that be physical or emotional safety) spank your children, or even if you're just flat opposed to it, please hear me: I'm not saying that your children are not going to turn out. I think any child given firm boundaries and a lot of love is going to be fine (okay, I'm not promising that they're not going to make sin choices, not promising that about my own children, either, but I just don't want this to come across as a formula; just our choice for our family at this point).

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