Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The discipline game...keeping the eye on the goal

I've been remiss in posting the last few weeks....but life has been very very busy.  Sometimes I need exhaustion to hit before I can say "whoa, time to regroup".  Lest you think I've been digging ditches or engaged in physically exhausting manual labor, rest assured it isn't that.  It's a different type of exhaustion.  The feeling my husband and I have of being worn down by trying to discipline two six year olds, two four and a half year olds, a three year old and a generally compliant (but definitely watching how the big kids do things) 18 month old.

For Joseph, our eldest boy, the new favorite activity is 'pushing mom and dad's buttons' and he generally does it lately through potty talk.  We've learned many things in the first weeks of first grade - not the least of which is a myriad of new words and phrases for body parts, bodily functions and the like.  He thinks it is hysterical to use them at the table, in the yard, while doing name it. So he's spent a lot of time in time out this month. 

I'm amazed at how swiftly he can move from being such a sweet, lovely young boy to an absolute ogre.  We hope that the impact of our approach is having an effect.  A handwritten note I received from a sheepish faced Joe just prior to bedtime about a week ago gave me some cause for hope. It reads "I love you Mom. I am sorry for Disobeying."  {The journalism major in me was willing to overlook the incorrect use of the capital D} In the face of all we've been trying to counteract, it may as well be a piece of gold leaf.  Perhaps he's beginning to understand.

I find myself trying to think back to myself at the age of six and remember what was I being asked to do in terms of my behavior.  I suppose it was something similar but I'm only now appreciating how tough it is for parents to help form the conscience of their children, especially in a world which constantly says "anything goes".  It is our job to teach all our children that it isn't "anything goes", rather it is meant to be "others go first".

I have to keep reminding myself of the little note from Joe, especially after this Monday coming home and learning that when a classmate made a goal while playing soccer at recess  Joe's reaction was to "accidentally" scream in his classmates ear.  So we had another discussion about how to make friends, play fair and be kind. And another discussion about what the difference between "accidental" and "on purpose" means.   I reminded him how last Saturday when he was asked to be the goalie for his team (he was so proud sporting the fancy orange shirt) how he did a great job not only blocking three shots on goal, but also encouraging his teammates, cheering for them as they scored against their opponents.  How working and playing together is more fun than being alone and that when he treats others in a mean way, like he did to his classmate, he's less likely to be asked to be part of the team.  I guess you could say it was my best shot on goal.... whether I scored or not remains to be seen.

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