Monday, October 20, 2008

Parenting 101...Repeated.

Have you ever fooled yourself into believing that you have parenting figured out? I did...once. Obviously this heinous mistake wasn't made when Jeter was born. He was our firstborn and I wasn't so bold to think I had this parenting thing down. But when Barber came along approximately three years later, although I knew things might be a bit different, I did believe I had the upper hand. What would cause me to think otherwise? I already had three years of on-the-job training and should be able to steer around the mountains and bypass the valleys. Right?

Wrong.

I mistakenly trusted my set of honed parenting skills to enable me to avoid certain childhood obstacles. As if a childhood utopia is possible. Ha!

Specifics. When Jeter was barely four years old he threw the worst temper tantrum ever. I wish I was kidding. My parents were watching our boys while I surprised Simms with a night out for his birthday. Jeter didn't want us to leave and protested for over 1-1/2 hours. My mom put him in the guest bedroom where he continued his defiant, ungrateful, self-absorbed protest until he feel asleep. Then he woke up and started all over again. Our night was cut short. Allowing my parents to endlessly endure that was not an option. What did we do? First we prayed a lot - the entire ride to my parents house. We knew that what we needed to deal with wasn't simply a child that was crying a lot. Rather the attitude(s) behind the display of tears needed to be addressed.

After relieving my parents, we calmly told Jeter the consequences of his attitude and behavior. Simms kept him in the family room while I removed every item from his room - all toys, books, stuffed animals, etc. Everything. He also lost his privileges - TV, computer, swimming with Daddy in the pool, etc. These were then earned back over time as he learned and displayed positive attitudes and behavior.

Fast forward three years. Barber is now 4-1/2. Simms and I truly believed that we would never have to use this tactic again. Until this past Saturday. Barber didn't want to wear long sleeves or pants. Quite frankly he mistakenly believed that he didn't have to do anything we said. After all, we are only the parents, right? This same defiant, ungrateful, self-absorbed attitude raised its ugly head and continued the entire ride to Jeter's soccer game, and for the first five minutes of the game. Meanwhile, I was conversing with the Lord as to what action I needed to take so that he would cease this behavior - this time not behind the closed door of my parents guest room but on the sidelines of a well-attended soccer game. I almost wanted to throw a temper tantrum when I heard the Father remind me of the attitudes being displayed and the need to do a repeat. I hesitated. Am I so flawed as a parent that I couldn't prevent this from happening with my second child?!? Plus this consequence is not easy. It's a lot of work for me!

His protest continued. I warned him of the consequences should he continue. He did not yield and I followed through. One thing is certain in our home - we never simply threaten. If we say something is going to happen....it is! I told the team moms to let Simms know where Barber and I went.

We drove home. I thoroughly explained the consequences while he soberly listened. Barber sat in a family room chair downstairs by himself while I moved EVERYTHING out of his room and into the guest room. He was quiet and compliant the entire time - except when he called up to tell me that he was sorry and had changed his attitude. I called down to tell him that I forgave him but was still removing all of his things. He simply replied "I know."

It took me about 20 minutes to clean out his room. For the next 30 minutes he told me multiple times how much he loved me. I just took away all of his stuff and he tells me he loves me. My eyes filled with tears as I responded "Barber, I love you sooooo much." The tears almost overflowed when he said "I know Mommy. You love me so much that you can't let the enemy have even this much (showing a tiny space between his thumb and pointer) of my life." You're right honey. I can't. I then continued to tell him how special he is and affirmed him in the ways that he has been created and called by our loving Father.

48 hours later. This is a lot of work. He is working on his five daily goals:
1. Telling the truth. No lying.
2. Thinking of others. No selfishness.
3. Being a good listener. No talking back.
4. Being obedient. No disobedience.
5. Self-control. No temper tantrums.

He has earned back one toy - he selected his green toy truck. We've got a long road ahead of us but there is peace. I have done this before and I know that the results are positive. I originally thought I could avoid this part of the journey with Barber. Now I realize that my parenting experience is better utilized to aid him in the journey.

Barber is different from Jeter and how he navigates may vary but he too needs to grow and mature in his walk and relationship with the Lord. My role is the same. To facilitate and unconditionally love them in each twist, turn and bend of the journey.

5 comments:

Natalie said...

We did that with Alyssa when she was three. Worked wonders.

Just did it with Kaylene on a smaller scale last month.

And, I'm sure we'll have to do it with Josiah sooner than later.

The Gang's All Here! said...

This post reminded me of something my wise, godly mom told me when Shaggy and Dr. D were toddlers: about 80% of parenting is repeating (in various forms and manners) what you spend your days training and teaching in the first several years. It's those first years that are the critical ones for laying the foundation for lots of repetition (in various forms and manners!).

Melissa said...

You're amazing.

Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle said...

Just saw this post about a mom/speech therapist with a time out box for toys and it made me think of you!

Hope you are seeing continued improvements in attitude. :)

Livin' Life said...

Repeating times three! We have had to take away legos and things too lately but I made the boys put them in a box themselves. Right there with you.