My daughter, known around here
as “Monkey,” at age 22 months.
Isn’t she a cutie?!
HELP! I’m stuck in rewind. Stuck in my head is a particular conversation from yesterday. It just won’t leave me alone. I don’t know how to get rid of it. I’m going mad!
OK, OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I do need to stop thinking about it.
We were talking, a group of us, about parenting and about getting our kids to do what we need them to do. As parents, we are cheerleaders, encouragers, sounding boards, and loving supporters. However, being parents also means that sometimes we simply have to get our kids to DO something. The something might be “don’t run into the street” or it might be “buckle your seatbelt” or it might be “stop pounding on your brother.”
There were a lot of good ideas around the table. Some came from experience, and some came from imagination. Everyone was engaged, and interested in the discussion. It was fun, and interesting.
One lovely woman who I don’t know very well spoke up. She has two small boys, ages 2 and 4. She described her husband’s discipline technique. She said that whenever one of the kids was doing something he shouldn’t, her husband sends the child to his room. She described it as a quiet, relaxed move; her husband picks up the child and tells him that he needs to stay in his room. The isolation, she said, is a punishment that works.
Then she continued, “you’d think that this might engender some resentment from the kids, but in fact the opposite is true. When they come back downstairs, they are incredibly sweet and loving to their dad. I guess they just really need limits and they love him for setting boundaries.”
I realize that this is a loving couple whose children will most likely not be scarred for life from such a thing. No reason to make mountains out of molehills.
But it makes me so sad…
This is my two cents. You don’t have to agree, of course, I welcome differing opinions.
If you routinely isolate your child when he misbehaves, what’s the bigger message? Yes, you may get “better” behavior, if what you mean by “better” is “more compliant.” You may have a child who does what you want when you say you want it. But aren’t you also teaching him that when he misbehaves, you will withhold your love?
I have an entirely different view from these well-meaning parents. To me, it seems that the boys are not “sweet and loving to their dad” because they crave limits. I would guess that they act that way because they need reassurance. The dad made it clear to the child that if his instructions are not followed, the boy will be isolated from the family. After being banished to his room, the boy needs to check in and be sure that his dad still loves him. Which means that, at least on some level, the child has doubts.
I hope my kids know that they always have my love. Even if they make a mistake. Even if they do something that they shouldn’t have. Even…well, even no matter what.
That doesn’t mean that any behavior is acceptable. There are consequences for misbehavior. But those consequences do not include withholding of love. Love is something they get from their mom, unconditionally.
We’ve already discussed in a previous post that I’m not afraid of sibling rivalry. So it’s clear that I may be, let’s say, somewhat outside the mainstream on this issue as well.
What do you think? Am I being too sensitive? Or does this story make you sad, too?