Friday, 11 January 2013

Discipline and Piglet

Yes!  I have smacked my child.  I hold my hand up (in signification that I will never do it again) and confess.  

Why did I do it?  Well, it was in about Year 4 of the five years of continuous sleep deprivation that were the blissful beginning of parenting.  Some say that restless kids are more intelligent (Miriam Stoppard, I bet your two children whom you said were better sleepers loved you for saying in print that the other two were more intelligent!)  My child better grow up to be Einstein!  I can't even remember the exact misdemeanour that led to the fatal blow.  OK, blows.  I did it more than once.  Smacks on the bottom, hard enough to try to say:  I am very angry!  Not hard enough to leave a mark.  
Why did I give it up?  Out of a sudden dread realisation that I was turning into a fascist parent, scourge of humanity?  Um, no.  You may read elsewhere my opinion that democracy is of little value in the domestic realm.  Because I realised it was more about me being angry than me civilising the Piglet into a docile citizen of the republic?  No.  
I stopped smacking because it didn't work.  Piglet became more naughty.  I realised that she craved attention, that she would rather we came and beat her than that we ignored her.  When it got to the stage of her leaning out of her bedroom door shouting:  Come on then, beat me!  I admitted that I was the one who was beaten.  
I started ignoring her.  
If she was naughty, she sat on the step for the same number of minutes as her age.  (I got this from Supernanny.)  I did not speak to her during this time.  I did not respond to her indignant cries of fury and hurled insults.  If she moved from the step I went back and put her back on it without talking to her.  
It does take a long time to get a child into the habit of sitting on the step when you put them there.  You may have to spend the whole morning going to and fro putting them back on the step and watching the clock, saying:  If you move, you will have to go back and start your four/five/six minutes again.  In fact, whenever Piglet has to go on the step it's a real struggle because do you know what?  It worked.  Piglet is rarely so naughty that she has to sit on the step, and so whenever she does have to, it's a bit of a struggle;  she's not used to it.  
Piglet is older now and I've found a new disciplinary regime:  confiscations.  If you don't do blah, you will not be allowed on your laptop for a day/a week.  Or, I won't invite your friend to tea.  This works well too!  
Thanks to Harvey Millican's blog
(Raising your kids without lowering
your IQ
) for picture.
The main thing that makes disciplinary measures work well is doing them in a disciplined way.  If you once slip up on following through your threats then you have a real struggle on your hands to convince your piglet that you're serious about it.  You have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.  This can sometimes be difficult.  The little woebegone face after you've said No sweets because you didn't turn the tv off when I'd asked you (four times).  Especially if you're stuffing your face with chupa chups while you say it (joke!).  But be strong.  Seriously, the peace and calm of having a piglet who (occasionally) listens and does as you ask is worth it.  For them too.    
The silliest example of smacking I saw was at a playgroup.  A small boy hit his mother - he was too small to do any damage but she was in a bad mood.  She immediately slapped his legs back, shouting:  "How dare you hit me?!"  Mmm.  I wonder where he learned that hitting might be acceptable behaviour?  

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