Friday, July 30, 2010

A Difficult Morning Forces Some Deep Thought

This morning was an early morning - earlier than usual, that is.  The big boys hauled themselves out of bed much too soon, resulting in cranky, whiney boys and a cranky, annoyed mom.  After handling each situation poorly and becoming increasingly disappointed in myself as a mother, I began thinking of ways to not just eliminate bad behavior in my children, but how to teach them healthier alternatives - what to do rather what not to do.  I want to do this for their own good - not just so that I am less annoyed.

Today we begin with shouting/whining at me from across the room or another room entirely.  Mitchell especially is going through a very whiney phase right now (which I will have to deal with seperately and am very open to suggestions on this one!) and even when he is not upset, his "normal" voice is very high pitched and loud.  This is not acceptable, as it severely annoys me and puts me on edge, and also because it puts him in a complaining, demanding mood, even when he otherwise would not be.  "The voice" has got to be transformed into a more appropriate, even sound that does not rile anyone up.  

So as I sat there, being barraged by constant loud/whiney voice from Mitchell, it hit me that if he had my undivided attention and was close to me, it would eliminate the need to shout or whine.  I had the sudden inspiration that if he was actually touching me, he'd be close enough to put this new inspiration into effect.  I sat him down next to me and explained to him that I could no longer hear him if he was not actually touching me.  Starting this morning, he is no longer allowed to talk to me unless he is touching me.  Seriously.  I pretend that I cannot hear him until he is physically touching me.  Now, I fully expect this to make the situation worse - at first.  He will shout at me from another room and I will ignore him rather than shout back.  That will frustrate him and he will shout louder.   When I still "can't hear him," he will turn it up a notch and add in the whiney voice.  All this I realize could result from my idea.  My hope though, is that once he remembers to actually come up to me and touch me, and because of this I immediately turn to him and give him undivided attention and eye contact, he will quickly understand what is expected of him and the shouting/whining voice will slowly make its departure.  

I feel like because I write and tell stories so much of the funny aspect of my interactions with my kids and skip over the unentertaining aspect of parenthood that is discipline (who really wants to read about that part?), many people get the impression that I do not discipline at all, but merely sit back and let my kids run wild and do as they please.  This is not the case.  I do allow them to act appropriate to their age, and also enjoy and allow a certain amount of boyish antics and craziness into our lives, but training and discipline is a constant part of my day - sometimes I fail at it, sometimes we make real progress.  I find real comfort in Dobson's "Bringing Up Boys" because it points out how boys were created and wired to be active and need a certain amount of craziness and activity that I, as a mom and a female, cannot quite understand the need for.  Reading that book set me free and relaxed me quite a bit.  I stopped trying to "tame" my sons; rather, I now aim to "direct" them in their crazy, energetic activities and provide boundaries for their abounding energy.  Expecting them to be like myself was only frustrating us all.  I am a female and I am an adult.  They are neither.
With each new phase my boys go through, all my ideas and rules have to be re-considered and re-worked to make sense for us.  I feel I am at one of those crossroads with Mitchell (yet again.)  His need for special attention from me has become clear to me, as is his need to be corrected in his unacceptable behavior.  With hard work and diligence on both our parts, I hope to have worked out a system to bring my adorable and comedic middle child back to a normal decibel in his communication and also to provide him with what he might be missing - some more personal attention, perhaps?  Any insights, comments, or criticisms you might have on this issue we face are more than welcome!

I apologize for the deviance from the normal light-hearted and often humorous entries I normally post.  I felt the need to point out the other side of my interactions with my kids this time.  I love my boys so much and want what is best for them - it sure is a lot of work trying to figure it all out and then implementing it as well!


  1. wow, i just read that in its published form and it's long! sorry everyone! :)

  2. you remember the time at the Nut Tree when your brother was pestering his siblings relentlessly and I finally suggested we all totally ignore him as tho he wasn't there? And the dramatic outcome?

  3. Don't be sorry! I loved this. So good to hear that I'm not the only one. I hate to discipline. I remember my dad spanking me and then hugging me... saying, "I do it because I love you." I thought that was so stupid... as were a lot of the rules in our house. Now I see myself doing and saying the same things... because they are true and right. And most importantly, a reflection of God's parenting and correction. I'm proud of you and want to hear a follow up on the touching tactic. May have to steal that!

  4. alison - my dad used to say the same thing when he'd spank us!

    will let you know how the "touching tactic" goes

  5. dad - no! i don't remember that, but it sounds funny! what happened?

  6. Deb,

    I can tell you how to knock out the whining in 2 days or less, if you are interested. :)

  7. yes, i know your method...not quite ready for that yet, i'm afraid! :)

  8. Ugh - whiny voice is TOUGH. Maine totally has that down pat. That's a really good idea with the whole touching thing - let me know how it goes. Missed you all at church today!



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