Today, my oldest daughter swore at me … I believe it went, “You’re a friggin’ mother,” and then it progressed to a “fu*king mother” … the insult is mildly humorous because she obviously isn’t too adept at using swear words (thankfully). In the past, I would have gotten so angry with her that I would have screamed, yelled, and likely dragged her to her room (and she would have matched my screaming, yelling, and maybe even thrown in a few slaps and kicks … angering me even further). Instead of reacting to her swearing though, I carried on about my business, which was tidying up the front deck before going in the house to prepare supper.
My latest discipline strategy is … don’t freak out, take note of the behaviour, and wait until the child asks for something, then simply respond with a no and refer back to the inappropriate behaviour (for example, “Mom, I’m going to ride my bike” would be met with, “Sorry, you won’t be riding your bike again today because of how you spoke to me earlier”).
My lack of response must have ticked her off even further, because she followed me into the house, then proceeded to hit me on the arm, repeatedly. Again, in the past, I would have lost it! But I didn’t. She screamed, “You won’t give me what I want, so this is what I am going to do so you’ll give me what I want.” I respond with, “This will not get you what you want.” Her threats continue, and I tell her that she needs to go to her room for awhile to “cool off.” Of course, she refuses and goes to do cartwheels on the front lawn. Instead of pursuing her, I just let her go.
A few minutes later, she comes in and asks how long she has to be in her room for … “7 minutes.” “But, Mom, usually you start out with five. And besides, there’s nothing to do in my room.” That’s kind of the point, I think to myself. I ask her if she recalls what happens if she argues with me about a time out. She knows … another minute for every bit of argument. She gets to eight minutes (she’s had up to 30) and goes to her room. She fake cries, and I remind her that I will start the timer when she is finished screaming and hollering. She stops immediately, and I start the timer.
When she comes out eight minutes later, she apologizes, and I tell her to unload the dishwasher (not a regular chore for her). She does so without arguing. At the supper table, we review how A must happen before B in our home. You must be kind and respectful (A) to get or do what you want (B) … like listening to music and having a dance party on the front lawn, which is where this whole argument began in the first place. She concludes, on her own, that she won’t be getting dessert tonight because of her behavior.
And that’s it … that was the extent of her “punishment” so far. No other “take away” opportunities presented themselves tonight … in a way, I feel like I was too easy on her; after all, her behaviour was completely despicable (she swore at and hit her mother). I just couldn’t take away the things she NEEDED tonight though … like connecting with her little sister in the bathroom over peeing LOL dolls, colouring with her Mom, or special story time before bed.
In my heart, i don’t believe she thinks I’m a “fu*king mother” (whatever that even means) … I actually don’t think she knows what she’s saying using those words … I think she should have said, “I’m so angry right now that you’re not letting me do what I want. Let me work through this anger in a healthy way. Please help me!” But she didn’t. And sometimes, I don’t say that either. Sometimes I lash out just like my oldest daughter did tonight (it’s been awhile, thankfully). But I am forgiven. Thank goodness for God’s grace … tonight, I tried “wrapping my arms around my oldest daughter, looking at her as Jesus does with love and grace” (to use the words of encouragement her grade one teacher sent to me awhile back). Was it the right thing to do? I have no idea … but in the end, I think kindness always wins. My daughter was unkind today, and I chose to be kind anyway.