For The Love Of The Game

Play Ball!

As The Umpire Says, “Play Ball!”

I always have a greater understanding for my parents running me around to softball games when I was a kid after a season of taking my kids around to their ball games. I am not a run around mom but baseball season is the exception. My daughter Anya plays Softball and my son plays Baseball. We are at a ball field pretty much six nights a week.

The season does get a little hectic so it is a good thing it is only 3 months long. By the second week in, our family meals have been reduced to grilled cheese sandwiches and smoothies or a quick bite picked up along the way to the park. Try as I might I just can’t seem to get working, cooking and eating coordinated and still be at the park before 4:30 in the afternoon. My kids are the ones usually slightly late for the pre-game practice. I don’t know how some parents keep up.

I love watching my kids play and cheer them on enthusiastically sometimes a little too much. One year I lost my voice in the middle of the season from excessive team cheering. What can I say some of the games are really exciting. Or maybe it was the couple of times I forgot my winter parka and froze. It can really get cold in the evening when you are the one sitting watching and not the one playing.

Then there are the nights with two games, one parent in a meeting and one who has to be in two different cities and ball fields at the same time. It is on those nights we welcome a good rain storm and a cancelled game or two. We actually cook a real meal and eat together, what a novelty.

The best part about ball season is watching my kids and their teams improve throughout the season. They go from total chaos in the beginning to a team that comes together and knows the plays. Seeing my kids go from missing the ball on a swing to hitting the ball and making first base is the best feeling. The joy on their face when they beat the odds and make it home or make a double play for a 2nd and 3rd out is what keeps me going. For a game with a short season it has great rewards. I guess it can teach us a lot about life too. Always do what you love. Strive for improvement against the odds. Do our best in everything. Practice makes progress. It’s not always about the win, sometimes it is good to just play for fun and when you make a good play be excited, dance around the field and cheer.

Truth or Lie – What Do I Do When My Child Lies To Me?

For A Child Telling The Truth Can Be Hard ...How Can We Make It Easier?

For A Child Telling The Truth Can Be Hard…How Can We Make It Easier?

Has your ever child lied to you? Honesty is important in all relationships. How can we encourage our children to tell the truth even in situations where they might get into trouble by being honest?

Being honest is tough for children. Think about it from their perspective, if you just did something you know will get you into trouble and now this big angry adult is asking you to tell the truth about it, what do you do? Lie and say someone else did it or tell the truth and face the consequences from the angry adult? Hmmmmm, in the mind of a young child I think the natural instinct would be to protect themselves with a fib and keep out of trouble. Where does that leave the parents? Angry or disappointed their child won’t tell them the truth and unable to trust what the child tells them next time something happens. Not the best basis for a parent-child relationship especially as their little girl or boy eventually grows up to be a teenager.

Everyone will try to fib their way out of a situation or embarrassing moment at one point in their lives. Why would it be any different for a child? Whether it is over accidentally breaking something, playing sick to get out of school, getting into something they shouldn’t have (Mommy’s makeup or Daddy’s tools), or who started the fight that led to the lamp shattering on the floor. It is scary for a child to admit their part in what really happened because they fear the consequences from mom and dad.

When my kids were little I used to read them the story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” by Aesop (an ancient Greek story teller) where a boy herding sheep keeps crying for help about a wolf attack on the sheep until finally no one believes him when there is a real attack on the sheep. I found videos with similar stories to let them watch (now there are even videos online). Afterwards we would discuss the importance of telling the truth and how it was more important to mommy and daddy that they tell the truth than what actually happened.

When a situation would come up be it something broken or a mess mysteriously appearing out of nowhere I would call the kids in and we would talk about what happened. I always made it clear to them that if they told me the truth right away the consequences would be less severe than if I had to find it out on my own. If I caught them in the lie everything tripled. Time out or cool-down time was longer, privileges were taken away and they would have to do an extra long service for me to make up for betraying my trust on top of paying for whatever was broken. If they could look me in the eye and tell me upfront what happened the cool-down time would be waived or shorter, no privileges would be taken away and no service would be required. They may still have to contribute to replace what was broken depending on the circumstances but because they were brave enough to tell me the truth the consequences would be much less severe.

My kids very quickly learned that it was easier and less effort to be honest with me than to spend their time making up for lying to me. Knowing they wouldn’t get into as much trouble if they told the truth has built a trust between us over the years. As my children became teenagers it has kept the communication open between us so when more difficult challenges came up like skipping school or getting into trouble with a friend they knew I would hear them out before judging and be more understanding because they were honest with me.

Discipline and Consequences – Sibling Squabbles

With No Toys There Will Be Nothing to Throw!

Consequence – With No Toys There Will Be Nothing to Throw!

So, now we have established the difference between punishment and discipline let’s talk about discipline and consequences. Discipline is when we correct our child’s behaviour. It sometimes involves yelling (no one is perfect), timeouts or cool down time as I like to call them, taking privileges away or grounding our child from going outside or using electronics. Some methods of discipline work and some don’t. A Consequence in the dictionary is something that logically follows an action. Consequences with children can be a blend of discipline as well as letting the natural consequences of a child’s behaviour affect them providing they are not doing something that would seriously hurt themselves or others physically. For example if a child throws their toys in anger the consequence could be to take all their toys, bag them in a large garbage bag and put them away for a few days. No toys, nothing to throw!

Anger is a very difficult emotion to control especially for a child. When my daughter Anya was little she had a very hard time controlling her anger. One time in her temper she broke one of her brother’s toys, hit him, then ripped out all the linen in our linen closet throwing towels and sheets everywhere. She was put in her room for cool down time, given a big pillow and told it was ok to hit pillows but not people. She cried for about 10 minutes and punched the pillow angrily then I went in to talk to her.

Sometimes a hug is the best medicine so I sat down beside her and held her until she stopped crying. We talked about what had happened, what she did, what she could do differently next time and what she could do to help make everything better. Her brother was partly at fault too as the instigator of the fight but Anya was the one that over reacted. It was not ok to hit someone or to throw the linen around and break a toy.

The consequence of her actions was, she had to pick up and fold all of the towels and sheets she had thrown around (we put a sliding lock on the linen door to prevent future incidents). The toy she broke cost $10 so she had to pay to replace it out of her savings. Anya and her brother had done a disservice to each other in choosing to fight so, they apologized and had to do each other a service of folding the others laundry to make it right. (The service could be anything from helping pick up each other’s toys, or doing a chore for one another.) Then because it had taken half an hour of my time to sort everything out they both had to do me the service of helping to complete the chore I had been working on and fold some of my laundry.

As with any discipline or consequence in order to work there has to be follow through so neither child was allowed to do anything else (TV or play) before the service to each other and me was complete. Consequences may take more time but they are worth it. Doing services for each other is a great tool. It can be any service from cleaning toilets to scrubbing tile grout with an old toothbrush, laundry is a good one for young children. The child who overreacted feels better in the end because even though they hurt someone they did something to make it up to the person. The child who was hurt feels better because although they were hurt, their sibling did a chore for them to make up for it.  Both children will hopefully think twice before having another fight and temper tantrum again because neither of them want to do their siblings chores as well as their own and clean up the mess they made. I stress the word hopefully because we all know kids will be kids. Just think how many chores you can get done with all those services. 🙂

Punishment VS Discipline…

Maybe Spanking is Not The Only Way!

Maybe Spanking is Not The Only Way!

How many of us were spanked or hit as a child when we did something wrong? For those who were do you still remember how it felt? Do you think it helped you to behave better, scared you into submission or made you want to rebel even more? How many have spanked or hit their child when they did something wrong? How do you think our children feel?

As a child I was sometimes spanked when I misbehaved. Mostly by hand but sometimes with a wooden spoon, ruler or threatened with a leather belt and I hated it. Hitting is disrespectful, cruel, and humiliating. I am sure we all know someone in our lives who was severely treated by their parents, caregiver or family member as a child. Why do parents tell children “No Hitting or punching” other children, then think it’s ok to hit the child themselves. What a conflicting message! It’s like saying, “You can’t hit other children or me when you are mad but it’s ok for me to hit you when I am mad.” Not a message that feels good for the child or the parent. The child is miserable and afraid of the parent and the parent feels guilty and bad about themselves because they hurt their child.

As an adult, I could look at it from another perspective. When my parents were little Society thought it was ok to hit children. It was the norm. Kids were given the strap by the principal in schools when they misbehaved, hit on the head with a book or had their knuckles rapped with a ruler by the teachers. My dad’s parents used to punish him for misbehavior by spanking him with a wooden spoon or leather strap. It was all he knew, his parents didn’t know any other means of correcting their child’s behavior so they did the best they could and used the same methods they received as a child from their parents.

Lucky for me, when I was about 12 years old my parents took some Life and Parenting courses and our lives changed for the better. They stopped hitting me when I did something bad and used discussion and consequences to teach right from wrong. They would talk to me about what I did, how disappointed they were in my actions and how I had lost their trust. We would discuss how I could earn their trust back and what I could do to correct the mistake. Almost like reverse psychology.

For example if I had stayed out past curfew my parents would tell me how disappointed in me they were and how were worried something had happened to me. I would have to earn their trust back by being on time in the future and my consequence would be I couldn’t go out for the next few days so I had some time to reflect on my choices.

If my brother and I were fighting we would be separated to our rooms so we could cool down, then we would come out and discuss with mom and dad what was happening for each of us that started the fight and what we could have done differently. The consequence would be whatever we were fighting over be it a toy or TV show would be removed and neither of us would get it. If we happened to break anything during our fight we had to pay to replace it.

Consequence discipline was a lot more work for my parents and me. In the beginning I admit I sometimes missed the old quick spank and get it over with method. It was a lot less effort and I didn’t feel so bad about letting my parents down because they had let me down too. Consequences worked though and in the end everyone felt better about ourselves because we worked out our issues with respect for each other instead of pain and hurt feelings.

Next week I will share more on “Consequences That Work for You and Your Child”.

Check It Out!

Disclaimer

The information on this site is based on the personal experience of the author. There are no guarantees of a perfect method to raise a child, it is all trial and error. Please feel free to try some of the suggestions on this site and let me know how you make out. If you would like to use any words or pictures from this blog please contact me for written permission. © 2013

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