Punishing my Punk-ish Little Girl Without Pain

gallery_bossy_gallerySo, let’s not pretend that children are always perfect, wonderful, and gifts from God (actually, if you believe that, then you’ve probably come to the wrong site).  It’s been a while since I’ve shared the adventures of my self-centered, punk-ish girl.  She no longer hits her (bigger) sister, she continues to play (not so funny) practical jokes on people, and she still tries to bully her parents–luckily I don’t give in to peer pressure.  Do you have a punk at home? I know, I know.  Punk is a bad word–and calling your kid one is probably worse.  Let’s alter that definition.  When I say punk, here’s what I mean:

Punk: n. referring to any child, male or female, with qualities that resemble your average salesman.  This means that they can be aggressive, amazingly kind, even cordial.  While they tend to be overly friendly, punks are often (brutally) adept at finding the triggers of anyone within striking distance.  Typical weapons include sarcasm, loud voices, and tears.

Sound familiar?

Willful children are “handled” in one of two ways: brute force or weak submission.  You know, the parent who decides their child WILL do as told, or the adult who gives in by saying they’re too tired to fight.

The problem is that these methods only help the parent deal with behavior–they don’t help the child make better choices.  Once I realized that it was my job to teach my young tyrant–and not to control her–life got a bit easier.magic wand

I say a bit because that knowledge didn’t change the willfulness of my daughter, and it didn’t make her do everything I asked.  Waving the magic wand of reality only causes more frustration because the problem is known–and that means it’s up to us as parents to solve it.  In the wake of the Adrian Peterson child abuse scandal, and the many accidental deaths and injuries associated with spanking, I find myself thankful that I spare the rod.  Beating my daughter into submission will

a.  make my child internally spiteful and angry–at me and at life, or

b.  it will make her afraid and weak in a world where she needs to be strong.

Beating a child doesn’t give them the skills to control their behavior.  So, what is a parent to do?

Well, parents, we need to get creative.  Children definitely need social skills to survive: but punk-ish babies need to hear and understand those things many times, and from many perspectives.  They need to know:

lightbulb* they are loved–but their actions are not.

* their actions are changeable–but only by them, and

* willful children need a clean slate, each and every day.

Instead of trying to control and dominate my child, I took her stubborn, willful behavior and taught her how to harness her energy for good.  Did it work?  Kinda.

Parenting is a process. As soon as one behavior is “solved”, your baby will find another behavior to annoy you.  It’s their job and they do it well.

So, the next time your baby boy purposefully sabotoge’s dinner, or your daughter decides to scare her sister as she walks out of the bathroom, take a breath.  Consider yourself lucky.  You have a child that will not only stand up to you, but all the bullies, the perverts, and the “friends” that will try to manipulate them when you aren’t looking.