Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stop Talking

Every once in awhile, my children plot a mutiny.  They decide that they are now in charge and my directions/words/rules have no power.  It is always sudden and it is always shocking. And it takes me a little while to get the reigns back.

My husband and I spent an amazing four days in Mexico and, upon our return, we found a five year old who talked like a teenager.  He was not very happy about his Granny and Papa going back to their house and he knew it was all our fault.  It started small.  

We sat down to do handwriting (his least favorite task) and I told him he needed to copy two sentences.  "I need help," he whined.  
"Really?  What do you need help with?"
"I want you to sit with me!" 
"Well, I have to go work with Drew.  You get started and I'll be back in a few minutes to check on your progress."
I walked out to help my three year old with his letter craft then, a few minutes later, checked to see if my five year old had completed his sentences.  I found a pile of shredded crayon label and a little boy doing a handstand against the wall.  He had one word on the page.
"Clean up the crayons and get back to work, bud.  No more messing around." 
"I don't really want to do it," he said plainly.  No kidding.
"I know but you have to.  It's an important thing to learn."
"Why?"
And you know what I did?  I actually answered him.  I could see him listening, calculating his best defense.  "Well, I can just type instead.  It's a lot easier," he said.
"Luke, do it.  Get it done.  You can't do anything else until this is done."
"Then I won't do anything else," he said as he started jumping on my bed.   
"Get down.  Now.  Write your sentences."  I could feel my blood pressure rising.  We were at a standstill and I was getting angry.  He knew he held the cards.  He could tell that I couldn't actually make him get it done.  It took a full hour of cajoling to get those two sentences and I was spent.  

The next day, there was a major escalation of bad behavior.  We went to the library and he wanted to check out his own books.  I told him it was his brother's turn to go first and he was okay with that.  When it was his turn, I asked him to put his books on the scanner.  "But I'm not done looking at them," he said with an attitude.  
"Either you check them out or I will," I said.  
"I will when I'm done," he announced.
I picked up the books from the floor and proceeded to scan them.  "Sorry, bud.  Lost your chance."
And then he actually started screaming.  "YOU ARE SO MEAN!  I WANTED TO SCAN MY BOOKS!"
Okay.  Deep breath, I thought.  "Sit in that chair until it's time to go."  

I walked over to him and asked if he was ready to talk.  "No!" he yelled.  I was so flustered.  "Then let's get in the car.  We'll talk later."

I called my mom.  She's my go to girl when it comes to discipline.  "He's a maniac!  It's like he's possessed!  I don't know what to do!"  I told her once I got him out of ear shot.  
"Sounds like you are being way too nice.  He can't be that rude!  Quit talking so much - give him an immediate consequence.  If he wants to yell at the library, he can't have those books.  If he won't do his handwriting, he has to sit in his room for twenty minutes.  You are in charge.  You are the boss," she said firmly.  "You can do this!"

And so, that night, we had one last talk.  I explained what it meant to be disrespectful and said, "When you do any of those things, you will get the opposite of what you want.  I will not tolerate disrespect.  Not ever."  And when he refused to sit with his sister because he was, "too busy," he lost the toy he was playing with.  When he yelled at his brother for touching a toy that was free game, he was sent to his room for twenty minutes.  And by the next day, I started to see a difference.  "I..." he said as we baked cookies.  
"What did you say, bud?" I asked him.  
"I was starting to say something disrespectful but caught myself."
"Good job, love."

You are in charge.  You are the boss.  We don't have to talk about everything endlessly.  We don't have to be calm and sweet all the time.  We aslo don't have to get emotional and worked up.  We just have to know we are in charge.  Calm, in control, and in charge.  So the next time you have a mutiny on your hands, take back the reigns.  You can do it.

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