Punishment is Love
Our kids are really great kids. I am blessed that I can say that in all honesty, with confidence. They get punished a lot. I cannot say if my first statement is the product of the punishment. I am trying to figure this out as I go. When the kiddos were still pretty small, I determined that my job as a parent was basically to prepare my kids for the world that they will live in as adults. I have eighteen short years to do it in a controlled environment. I need to present them with problems and situations that mirror the outside world and teach them about navigating it, while I can still keep them safe. It’s a pretty big job…deep breath.
My twins are ten and my youngest daughter is eight. Their punishment is normally time in their room with no TV. Typically, the reason that they are getting punished is because they have lost their temper and had a fit. It is different for all three of my kids. My son throws fits the least frequently…but when he does, good grief! He goes on and on and on. His fits are usually a result of him having trouble with a concept in school, and giving up and panicking. Sometimes he is simply overwhelmed with the workload. The other thing that causes him to lose it is when he isn’t getting his way with his sisters. He is unfortunately, typically, the odd man out when it comes to movie and game choices…because he is the boy.
My oldest daughter typically loses her temper over the way that her brother and sister are treating her, or because she dropped something, or because the wind blew…seriously, the child makes a wailing noise that I believe was specifically designed to make my ears bleed. My youngest has fits when she gets caught in whatever cheat or lie she happens to be involved in. The reason that I think that it is so important for them to learn to control their emotional reactions, and the reason that tantrums deserve swift punishment, is because adults are not allowed to act that way. Well, not all adults know this, but picture those who don’t. No sensible person wants to step foot in their proximity, the idea makes me shudder.
My son occasionally gets punished for physically pushing or shoving his sisters. He is not malicious and this behavior is never planned. He reacts physically out of anger or frustration. Same goes for my youngest daughter, she will haul off and smack a sibling who gets her in trouble. They get punished for wasting things, like trying to sneak food that they don’t want to eat into the garbage. They get swiftly punished for talking back or being disrespectful, but again, this all goes back to the throwing a fit thing. They normally wouldn’t think of showing disrespect unless they are in a snit.
I worked with a woman a long time ago that had inherited two stepchildren when she married her husband. One of them was a very, nearly, out of control fourteen year old. A couple of months after they had all been living together the fourteen year old was driven home by a police officer. She had been caught shoplifting. There had been quite a bit of bad behavior leading up to this incident. The woman sent her stepdaughter to her room and stepped out on the porch to talk to the officer. She told him that she didn’t know what on earth she was going to do. She explained that her stepdaughter might be climbing out her bedroom window that very minute.
The officer surprised her. He told her to do anything and everything that it took to get her stepdaughter under control, everything that was within the law. He told her that the young girl was already on a downward spiral, and if something didn’t stop her plummet, she was going to end up in jail, or dead, or worse. He told her that imprisoning your children is not illegal. He told her that bars could be put on windows, he told her that door locks can be turned around. He told her to do anything and everything that she had to do to save this child.
Hopefully, everyone who is reading this is already working on providing good discipline for your kids at a young age. Dealing with an out of control teenager is incredibly difficult. That is why I am working so hard right now. For those of us with young ones the drastic steps are less dramatic. I know a little girl who is going to be very cranky this week when she loses her bedroom door. Her mom told me that she has developed a slamming habit and that the door should probably go. I told her to do it.
Punishment is something that most people don’t think about a lot before they have kids. The reality of it is, that if you really love your kids, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get the important messages through to them. It always blows my mind when I hear about parents with kids having addiction issues. When parents elect to leave them in the same destructive environment week after week after week and expect them to get better. I just can’t understand what they are thinking. We must be willing to take the big steps, weather it means taking away your kids bedroom door, or sending them to stay with their aunt where they will be around different kids…we’ve got to do it…for them. It’s no fun to punish. Nobody enjoys it when their kids are mad at them. Punishment is love though. I promise that when they are older, your kids will thank you for all your effort, and for your love…because you cared enough to prepare them for life.