There comes a time in every parent’s life that they must discipline their child for something they have done.  Maybe it is staying out past curfew.  Maybe it is for lying.  Maybe it is for not turning their homework in.  Maybe it is for disrespect.  Or maybe it is because the parent is just Evil and wants to ruin the child’s life forever!

Okay – so maybe that last one is from the child’s perspective (at least I hope so!!).

When that time comes, a parent must first figure out what will “work” with their child to encourage the proper behavior.  Some kids are able to take correction with just an explanation and correction.  Others are a little more stubborn and like to test the limits.  When the child is young, counting to three, placing in time out or removing them from the situation may work.  With older kids, it is extra chores, or no TV, or grounding to their room.

A parent must also know their child and themselves.  What works with one child, might not work with another and the parent must be willing to be flexible with each child.  Also, if the punishment is too restrictive or harsh, the parent might find it hard to follow through on their end.  This last point is probably the most important – a parent MUST be willing to follow through on the punishment that was decided on.  If the parent is not willing to do that, then any hope of teaching the child will be lost.  The child will instead learn to manipulate the adult to get what they want.

Is that what we want our children to learn?  Of course it isn’t – so we parents keep trying to learn what will “work” with our child.

Now that LaLa is older, taking her phone and I-Pod away works wonders for her.  When she was younger, it was grounding her from the library.  The LIBRARY?!?!?  What sane parent grounds their child from the library?  We did.  She would check out 8-10 books every 2 weeks, read them all and repeat the cycle.  She didn’t care about being grounded to her room (more time to read), or from the TV (more time to read), or from her friends (more time to read).  For her, it made sense to ground her from books.  She got the point and started doing what we asked her to do so she would have more time to read.

With Buddy, it has always been grounded from TV and video games.  That boy loves to play his games – always has, probably always will.  He’s got a personality that loves to please anyway, so it’s not hard to get him to do what he needs to do.  Removing the TV and video games is just the encouragement he needs to remember to do those things.

Rowdy is different.  Grounding him to his rooms is the absolutely worst thing you could do to him.  He views it as torture.  With ADHD, he cannot stand to be restricted to one place.  He’d rather be outside, running, jumping, whatever, to expend all of his pent up energy.  Give him manual labor and he’s fine with it – to a point.  Ground him from TV, no problem, he’d rather be outside anyway.  This latest round of fighting on his part got him sent to our alternative school – which is basically grounded to a classroom, no one to talk to, no opportunity to stretch like he’d prefer, and any misstep lands him in the school for even longer than he was sentenced there for (they are VERY strict).  He’s been toeing the line for 4 weeks now and only acting out at home since he has nowhere else to blow off steam.  It seems to be working for him.

Monkey on the other hand….she’s been a tough nut to crack.

We’ve tried just about everything with her.  She’s been grounded, extra chores, no friends, no TV, no music, no nothing.  The encouragement to do the right thing is met with agreement and then ignored as she does whatever she wants to do anyway.  Right now, we’re trying to get through to her that her behavior and attitude is highly disrespectful.  She’s been in trouble most of the school year for disrespecting her teachers and was recently suspended from school (again) for her disrespect.

Thankfully, since we’ve already sent 3 other kids through this school, the teachers and administrators all know us from dealing with Rowdy and they know we’re trying to help on our end as well.  The issues with Monkey are getting so bad, the school is at the end of their rope as well and state the next step for her is to be placed in a similar setting that Rowdy is in, an alternative school for 6th graders (they won’t put her in the same place as Rowdy as those are all High Schoolers – they don’t need them giving the younger kids any extra ideas!).

In talking with my friend Kate about all of our struggles with Monkey, she suggested having Monkey read and write a book report on a biography/autobiography.  I’ll be honest and say I was skeptical.  After all, I didn’t want to punish a child with something that would make them hate school work more.  But, we have almost hit the end of our rope with her, so I was willing to try anything.

She started reading the book, “The Hiding Place” the other day.  She has to write a 4-6 sentence summary after each chapter explaining what the book is about.  She HATES it.  She generally likes to read young adult literature, but by her own choosing, not ours.  She’s currently on day 4 of having to read “The Hiding Place” and it is pure torture for her.  The other night, she tried to pop-off a smart-alec remark to Hun and I and I told her to keep it up and I’d add another reading assignment to her current list, “The Diary of Anne Frank” sounded good to me.  She changed her attitude pretty quickly.

This may not be the perfect solution, but so far it seems to be working.  As an added benefit, she’s reading (which is the class she’s getting into the most trouble in), learning, and will maybe think the material the teacher is giving her isn’t quite so boring.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!