In raising my children, I've learned to spend a lot of time reflecting. There is nothing that brings your childhood to the surface more than raising your own child. Whether right or wrong, good or bad, the way that you were raised plays a huge part in how you choose to raise children; either reinforcing certain beliefs or being the very reason that you rebel against everything your parents ever did.
I was raised the "old fashioned" way. In fact, corporal punishment is referred to in my house as "an old fashioned." My mother was stern, firm, and held me to a standard, in all regards. So I've tried to do the same with my own children.
The thing is though, you begin to learn with time, not all things work on all kids.
Nelly is a very easy child to parent. He is logical. Consequences work. Discipline is not a "say it twice" game. He usually gets it the first time.
Mino, for all of his likenesses to me, does not share my healthy fear for discipline - I never got it for the same thing twice. Words go in one ear and out the other, as well as everything else it would seem.
I also touched briefly on the sticky finger pilfering that's been going on whenever we go to a grocery store. Read about that if you haven't.
Most recently we went to Starbucks and at some point - maybe when I was spelling my name AGAIN for the barista...
Mino stole a pack of chocolate covered grahams.
This time, I knew it couldn't be Nelly - he was already at school.
The thief had finally been identified.
My first reaction was stern and quick - "Wait until we get home!" through clenched teeth.
And then I rethought through everything we've been learning in therapy and what we've gone through and realized an "old fashioned" wasn't what he needed.
I thought about who my son is and why he really does some of the things he does - in other words, I worked our steps.
Mino is a people pleaser.
He wants to be loved and adored and the center of attention. Sometimes that results in him doing things like stealing graham crackers or standing up in the middle of class to make an unnecessary announcement.
He's too young to understand the difference between negative and positive attention. He just wants attention.
So I decided to be smarter than the problem.
Instead of a spanking that he'd probably shortly forget, I made the thief fess up.
I took him back to the very same Starbucks on Monday with the chocolate grahams.
I had him ask for the manager, and he confessed that he had stolen the cookies. He gave them back, let them ring them up and paid for them.
And then he looked sadder than I've ever seen him look after a couple swats to the bottom. Not that that was the point, but It was then that I knew that we are making progress.
I'm not scarred by my childhood or denouncing my support of spankings everywhere. Just being open and honest (as always) about my own lessons as I blindly try to discipline and raise two future contributing members of society.
Since that day Mino hasn't touched a cookie, candy bar, or any other such item that doesn't belong to him, and I'm calling this a win. We're evolving, both he and I. I'm learning that sometimes, hitting your kid where it hurts has nothing to do with physical punishment. Sometimes making them face the true consequences of their actions, no matter how embarrassing to them, is what they really need.
As often as I teach my children, they also teach me.
That is the discipline evolution.