Disciplining your children can be hard. But with the right attitude, disciplining your children can be a laugh riot!
I love putting my son in time-out, not letting him stay up any later, taking things away from him. Not food or shelter or love (I’m an asshole, not a psychopath!), but toys, and TV, and the other little perks of childhood. I don’t do it to instill values or help make him appreciate what he already has. I don’t even do it because he’s so spoiled already that it serves as a nice change of pace.
While those benefits are all well and good, I like depriving my son of the things he wants because it’s funny and it makes me feel better.
Disclaimer: You may want to ignore this post. I’m already on record explaining my love of lying to my child, and I consider tricking your kids into doing stuff they don’t want to do to be one of the hallmarks of successful parenting. Enjoying being the bad guy is another. (I’m not a great parent.)
You probably don’t enjoy disciplining your kids. Nobody wants to be the bad guy, and no one wants their kids to actually need discipline. But they do.
We’d all prefer our children to be so well-behaved that they never deserve a raised voice or a time-out or – GOD FORBID! – a spanking. In my experience, that’s fantasy. (If you have one of those magical, angelic kids who never does anything wrong, keep it to yourself and no one will get hurt. Also, stop lying.) Kids don’t instinctually do the right thing; they don’t even know what it is! They first need to be told, and shown, what the right thing is, then they need to be taught not to do the wrong thing. This is pretty much the crux of the whole parenting gig, and it consumes your life. But it doesn’t have to be a chore.
Every kid needs the (metaphorical) whip sometimes. It’s time we start enjoying the crack of it.
Kids cry over anything and everything, there’s no way around it. There’s a reason sites like Reasons My Kid is Crying are so popular, and it’s not just that sobbing children are super-hilarious; it’s that sobbing children are inevitable. Your kid is just as likely to cry when you give him a snack or take him to the movies as he is when you send him to his room without dessert or take away his favorite Transformer. Children are insane. You have to inure yourself to it or your kid will own you.
You don’t have to go crazy. Most of the stuff my four-year-old does wrong these days is a result of ignorance, a lack of self-control, or basic social experimentation. He doesn’t know any better, he can’t help himself, and he wants to see what will happen. None of those things require Hammurabi’s code, and seeing as I don’t want my kid to be terrified of me, I try to find alternatives to the eye-for-an-eye route. But, given that his screw-ups and act-outs are absurdly, comically prolific, discipline is a large part of my day-to-day parenting routine. You have to try to make it a little more palatable. Hate laying down the law, dread applying consequences, and you’ll probably find yourself avoiding ever doing it, and your kid will grow up entitled, obnoxious, and out-of-control. Nobody wants that.
Have a little fun with discipline – fun with erecting behavioral expectations and boundaries that will inform your kids for the rest of their lives and ultimately shape the people they’ll become; ya know, small stakes – or you’ll go insane. I try not to take it too seriously. Sometimes it’s not easy; sometimes it can be gut-wrenching to bring the hammer down. But it has to be done, not only to raise good human beings, but to make it through the day/week/month/year/decade.
Remember, despite how traumatized your kid may seem, holding back that second straight episode of “Scooby-Doo” isn’t actually going to turn him into Hitler. Or turn you into Hitler.
Parenting is hard work. It can be a major drag. For every moment of joy, for every bit of progress, there are countless setbacks and meltdowns. Surviving those is mostly a matter of perspective. If you can learn to take your kids a little less seriously, find a way to enjoy even the least enjoyable aspects of being a parent, you’ll probably be better off in the long run. And so will your kids.
Nobody needs a stressed-out time bomb in the house. That fact that my son will go berserk because I turned the TV off is so ridiculous I have to laugh. Otherwise I might explode.
Besides, when you put the kid in time-out, you get the TV to yourself. That alone is worth a smile or two.