No Break for Behavior

22 Sep

I support cause and effect punishment. If you do something you know is wrong, especially after being warned and told not to do it again, there should be a punishment. Whether it’s being mean/hurtful to someone else, refusing to listen/respect adults or tearing the paint off of walls, there needs to be some corrective action taken and guidance provided about what is proper behavior and what is not.

What that punishment is has varied for us over the years. There were a lot of time-outs. There were a few spankings. Too many scoldings to count. Privileges and toys (once an entire doll house) taken away. Even soap (with immediate rinsing). The severity of the punishment depended on the no-no. We rarely had to punish twice for the same no-no. A lot of it was us figuring it out as we went. If it seemed like one thing wasn’t working after a while, we tried another. If it seemed the punishment really didn’t fit the behavior, we altered it.

This is why I’m so confused/surprised that I’m feeling that kids need a break now and then. We give plenty of warnings to allow them to settle down and make a better choice so our need for punishment has dropped significantly because they’ve learned they don’t want to be in trouble and that they want to do what’s right. I believe school does this too. I can count on one hand the number of times Nia had to “pull a stick” during her years in school. Nate is (knock on wood) actually doing great in school as well. He had to pull a stick once for keeping his feet on someone else’s square on the rug, which I’m sure boils down to a listening issue. He’s been doing so well at following all the school rules but then there are even more rules at after-school and I guess – well – he’s just a little tired at that point.

We got a note home from the after-school counselors saying Nate’s behavior is becoming a problem because he’s not listening. They were surprised because he is one of “their best kids.” I called because I wanted specifics so I would know how to help correct the concern. Basically, he’s not listening is what I was told.

  • He bounces in his seat on the bus. I told him not to bounce. Keep his bottom in the seat. It’s for his safety and all the kids because the bus driver doesn’t need distractions. He understood.
  • In the after-school room, he’s to listen to his counselors like he listens to his teacher. Be a helper, not a hurter.
  • If he brings another note home then we will take away privileges. No video games. No tv time.

Fine. But then I thought about it. So many rules. All day long. When I went to my grandparents after elementary school they never had a report for my mom. “Nikki wouldn’t listen. She sassed her grandpa.” I did that. Yes. But it was never relayed to my parents. After a day of rule-following so well at school, I was allowed a rest from the regime. To not listen here and there, without it being written up.

I guess it comes down to – I just don’t want to be nagging him all the time. Not good for any of us. A break is needed. I feel like it will be ok if I ease up on him for minor after-school issues. I think my working mommy with no family around guilt is blurring my behavior patrol glasses. I may need a time-out.

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