Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Banana Punishment

While people the world over argue about whether Michelle Obama goofed in putting her arm around Her Royal Highness's shoulder, I tackle the real issues. Like discipline, and learning to respond, rather than react, to my tiny family of four young'uns. The react/respond distinction came from the 9ndHouse blog, featured on the sidebar. I trust as gospel what any homeschooling mother of seven says about discipline!

Last month I contemplated the fact that Daniel was still having small to large-size fits whenever "recess" ended, and the next school subject began. It had been going on awhile, despite us trying time-outs, loss of privileges, and spankings. Finally, one day, as I was reading an argument about whether waterboarding really constituted torture, I thought to myself - I really need to throw out the military field guide and come up with "painful" consequences. As a teacher, you are stuck with a small arsenal, but no so as a parent; I realized I was stuck in a field-guide rut.

So following his next fit, I told Daniel he had to spend the entire day in his room, coming out only for meals and bathroom breaks. And guess what.......It worked! Smooth school-day transitions have resulted. He's been in "jail" only once since that day. At the ADHD appointment with his pediatrician that month, I discussed how this punishment had worked, acknowledging that it was perhaps excessive. He applauded me, and mentioned that he has parents tell him that timeout only makes their (ADHD) kids laugh. Use what works, he recommended.

Another more infrequent behavior I just loathed, was when Daniel would break the no-earlier-than 7 a.m. rising rule. When this happened, we would confront him, send him back to bed, and then deal with a half-hour of turmoil, during which the whole house would awaken. This blood-boiling string of events occurred perhaps five times a month, with yesterday being one of them. Instead of sending him back to bed, and risking him waking his brother, I told him to go to the playroom while I thought of a fitting consequence. After an hour of serious thought, I told him he could have all his meals, but no snacks at all, except for bananas, the entire day. Now, Daniel, skinny though he is, lives to eat. He has high metabolism and really enjoys food, like his Daddy, who is also lean. Usual snacks are cheese sticks, whole wheat buns, cashews, whole wheat chips, strawberries, etc. I knew that he regarded bananas as seriously boring.

Well, the child immediately began crying. It was like I had sentenced him to Alcatraz. He tried to talk his way out of this, by telling me after lunch that buns were very healthy, and weren't we supposed to have 6-9 servings of whole grains daily, after all? I responded that I was glad he remembered his science lesson, but I knew he really liked buns, and that's why I chose bananas.

Take no prisoners, I tell you. Don't feel like you have to come up with a consequence immediately. That's more of a reaction, rather than a response.

1 comment:

Jess said...

oh pam, girl, this post was priceless! and i so enjoyed it..because i am right with you. i have been trying to think of new forms of getting things through to my kids. we are going through a bad spell of disobedience...or cabin fever. either way, i love your forms of 'punishment' in order to drive the point home to daniel. you have risen the bar - and now i'll need to meet you there! thanks so much for sharing. have a blessed weekend :)