After four days without DH, and with the kids staying up so late, then a birthday party during which I went back and forth between my two kids while they alternately had meltdowns…my nerves are pretty frazzled.
I know I’m frazzled because on several occasions today I have scolded DD. I hate it when this happens. It’s like all the patience and work I do to parent consciously just runs away and leaves me – like my outer shell of rationality and thoughtfulness shatters – and I’m left with this inner reflexive core of punishment, chastisement, and all the stuff that was programmed into me by my upbringing.
I was thinking tonight while putting DS to bed, how do people do this? How do people scold their children when they misbehave and have any semblance of a peaceful life? Not only does it feel yucky to get in that scolding headspace, but it makes it all worse!! DD has been downright obnoxious today, doing that whole “looking right at me while throwing her garbage out of the stroller” type thing. She’s looking for trouble (okay, not literally, but you KWIM). And why? BECAUSE I’M SCOLDING HER!
It’s a slippery slope, folks, and I started sliding down it today. It starts with telling her off: “I do NOT appreciate you screeching at your brother while he’s sleeping! I am really disappointed in you! Do NOT do that again!” blah blah blah. That just gets her wanting to check this stuff out more, and she starts to deliberately do stuff to provoke that reaction, so I scold more, and so on and so on and so on…until I’ve morphed into my mother telling me off.
And now I know why scolding leads to punishment. I mean, honestly, have you ever known anybody who could change their child’s behaviour simply by scolding them? I sure haven’t. Such parents always resort to punishment. And now I know why. The scolding makes the behaviours worse, until the parent is forced to resort to control, and that’s where the punishment comes in.
The only good thing about me falling into these lapses is that it makes me even more convinced that punitive parenting is useless. Not to mention, counterproductive. When I’m on the ball, when I’m parenting the way I normally do, I don’t get this crap from DD. Sure, she’ll screw up on occasion, but it’s not this deliberate exploration of control and reactions, etc. I simply don’t get this “looking for a reaction” stuff. Yes, I was struck with the realization that parenting consciously, without punishment/rewards, actually prevents such behaviours. It’s almost ironic because proponents of punitive discipline like to mention cases where the child is “deliberately testing you” or “manipulating you” as a justification for punishment, and now I’m thinking that the child does this precisely because of the power dynamics that naturally arise from punitive parenting. I mean, being able to turn Mama into a ranting looney must be pretty cool from their perspective, lol.
So three cheers for Gentle Discipline. And for the fact that DH is coming home tonight and tomorrow I’m gonna take off for the day, lol.