Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Escape from Alcatraz-- or alCARtraz

Yesterday I saw a patient of mine whom I've been following since birth- she's now going off to kindergarten. Very smart kid, mom kind of soft. I began my usual discipline discussion with, "How's the minding going?" Mom rolled her eyes and began to chuckle, so I knew what was coming. She recounted a recent story: Last week, they were out running errands, and Angel (not her name, and I use that with full irony) was very sassy in the car. When they got home, Mom said she was getting a car time-out. She could sit in the car for five minutes while Mom went inside the house (I would not have okayed this in the summer, but it was about 30 degrees out, so no risk of hyperthermia). Angel then gave her Mom a rude response, so the time was upped to ten minutes. "Shut up!" bought her an additional five minutes, and something even ruder got her up to twenty. At this time, Mom got out of the car and went inside the house. I was proud of her up to this point. However, Mom then told me that seven minutes later, Angel walks herself into the house. Mom's response? Laughter.

Stunning. Just stunning.

I appreciate the absurdity of what happened (the five year old discovered a way to get herself out of her car seat, out of the car, and into the house, just to spite her Mom), but what message did she give Angel? That disrespect is acceptable. That Angel could treat her mother like that with no recourse. That consequences delivered by Mom have no teeth. That Angel is in control of that relationship. Is that going to lead to a healthy and happy child?

I told Mom that Angel needed to know that Mom was in charge, needed to believe she was safe because Mom was in control and nothing bad would happen to her as long as Mom was looking after her (now, as adults we obviously know that nothing is certain, but a child should absolutely feel 100% certain of their safety with their parents). As long as that was in question, Angel would continue to test the limits of Mom's patience. Once she believed it, once she KNEW it and internalized that, the battles would be fewer and farther between, and Angel would settle down, be less crabby, less clingy, less the anxious child that pushed every button Mom had.

I hope that Angel's Mom can be the MeanMommy that Angel deserves.


John0 said...

I can only guess that the "mom" whines the question "OK?", after every directive she gives the child. Time to brush your teeth. Oh Kaaay?
People seem to be afraid of their kids. Or afraid the kid will blow the lid off their incompetence if their upset the children.
Very strange development in America.

Anonymous said...

Someone that I used to team teach with had a second grade student call her a 'm-f-ing b'!!! (The child 'filled in the blanks'...)It's unreal how poorly some kids behave in the classroom...

Another scary thing is the whole 'princess craze' that's going on...what's going to happen when these little girls who are being raised with an 'entitlement' mentality are adults?

Charm said...

I never would have tolerated that kind of behavior from my kids. I usually gave them the opportunity to change their behavior, but I followed through on disciplinary action when I said I would, and sometimes that included spanking. Spanking was saved for further up the disciplinary scale though. More often, I would take away whatever was most important to them, at the time, for a specified period of time.

My now-adult children have thanked me for spanking them as they have had a chance to witness, first-hand, what happens to children who do not receive appropriate discipline. We could actually take them out in public with little concern that they would become a public nuisance or embarrass us. It is a shame that there are so many "Angels" being reared so ineffectively now by their well-meaning parents.

BTW ~ You look absolutely radiant in your profile photo! Beautiful!

MeanMommyDoc said...

Thank you, Charm-- you are a great example of a MeanMommy. Your children knew who was boss because you were consistent with your discipline.

And thank you for your comment on my photo. It was one of the best days of my life-- a truly perfect moment.

Charm said...

You should have been there the time hubby was away on business for a few weeks, and I was worn out, and of course, the kids were all acting up. Instead of telling them to sit and put their hands in their laps (it was understood that they were to sit immediately, and there was to be no speaking), I told them to sit and put their hands in their mouths. After a moment of stunned silence, everyone broke out in laughter. I had little control after that moment. They still like to remind me of that day, and the child who was primarily being "punished" that day is 20 now!