Crime and punishment
Posted on August 31st, 2012
Discipline is tough for us, because five-year-old Pea is just as stubborn and strong-willed as M and I are. And proud. Oh, the pride.
When she’s done something she knows is wrong and is called on it, her first reaction is crying. This used to be a sort of shameful response (I’m not entirely sure, not being a mindreader) and I could work with that. I’d wait until she’d calmed down and we could talk about it.
Unfortunately, now her first reaction is a self-righteous howl of rage that she has been caught. And then crying.
I’m not really sure why this is such a big deal, considering that we don’t resort to corporal punishment. But she really worries about me being mad. Now, it takes me a while to get to mad, but when I do finally get angry, she yells at me that I’m being rude to her. In my pushed-to-the-limit state, this is never a good thing.
But there we are. She’s too proud and injured to apologize for whatever it is, and I don’t want to push her too hard and make her shut down completely, which is the real risk with a sensitive kid. So often I have to wait until she’s calmed down (which could be the next day, since most outbursts are at night) to talk to her about it. (This is, by the way, the same technique I have to use on M. I’m taking a chance here that he’s not reading this.)
If the “crime” is something that she’s been warned against and for which there are established punishments (a toy taken away, TV/Tablet privileges removed, an outing cancelled), great. We have parameters. It doesn’t help us in the moment (we just get more self-righteous crying). But it’s nice that it’s all predictable.
In the long term (by which I mean a day or two), the best thing is cutting off the TV/screen time for a day. We limit it anyway, but grounding for a day is a huge incentive to behave. She’s better behaved without the screen time, and she doesn’t want to prolong the punishment by misbehavior.