Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Opportunity of Hitting and Throwing (fits)

A sweet friend of mine asked a few years back for any
 common-momma experience on how to grow a child in
 the way he should go when he was wanting to bend 
the wrong way.  This was the answer to that question. 
 I was just reviewing some of the finer points with some
 of the minors in my here you go.....

PRAYER, PRAYER, Prayer, and did I mention 
Get your microderm abrasion and exfoliating equipment
 out because your knees are gonna get some callouses.
 Encourage your little one to join you in praying for
 right choice.  God is our Might Ally and the Holy Spirit
 is our Super-Life Coach.  God's words can be used right
 from the page to help pray the right desires in us and 
our children.   

Please know, that I do not think I have done this thing called
 parenting right nor am I anywhere close to being done with it
 (my momma assures me there is no being done).  As I see some
 of my friends, who are still parenting their adult children
 who have children themselves, begin a time of parenting their
 parents I think I understand her comment.  Isn't is wonderful
 that the Sovereign LORD of All Creation, Omnipotent, Omniscient,
 Omnipresent and more would choose to reveal Himself to us a
 Father.  How tender His love for us is; but it is a firm love, too.  

Okay, back to your question.  For what this is worth, coming from
 this goofball, here are some of my experiences/observations and
 anecdotes. Continue at your own risk.  When I asked my own children
 if I should offer our experiences on this subject two of them 
said, "  UUUUHHHHH,  sure ?   ".  When pressed, my second-born 
male said, "Restrictions, taking away privileges, time out.
  Definitely not the Spanking Spoon.  Definitely not that.
  Anything; but that."  Methinks he protesteth too much.

In addition to prayer (prayer is always the first, best position
 both offensively and defensively) I would mention the Vulcan
 nerve pinch.  Really.  I think Dr. Dobson calls it something
 else; but when my boys began to jump the fence at Tantrum-City,
 that little technique worked very well.  A modest amount of
 discomfort to help their minds to get off of the thing
 (the trouble) that is possessing them.  The "hold" does not
 damage their little bodies or leave marks, it does not twist
 something into an unnatural state, (like all those poor children
 whose ears are permanently disfigured and flapping due to parents
 well-meaning and desperate interactions),  it does not hurt after
 you quit applying the modicum of pressure needed.  When my children
 were spiraling down into the despair of a fit, I found this maneuver
 to be a very easy and unobtrusive way to grab their attention.

Another thing, perhaps in addition to or instead of - each case works
 itself out one way or another, is to take the child's arms and wrap
 them gently around his/her body and hug them from behind while keeping
 the arms secured (tenderly, but with enough of a hold to keep from being
 struck - we are much stronger than these precious ones, so we do need to
 take care of the strength applied).

One last thing that I can recall, is to give the little one a designated
 "hittable" - something they can beat the stuffing out of; a pillow or
 stuffed critter or something which does not resemble anyone.  Perhaps
 this would be a good time to introduce baseball and a net to your darling.
  Give the energy a place to go and the ball can be thrown as hard 
as he/she can.  The net will take it and the physical activity helps express the child's
 feelings in a safe way by expending energy in a positive manner.  Also,
 this is skill-building and will help the child to have a sense of
 accomplishment.  Who knows, maybe you will end up with a very talented
 baseball player.  I would begin talks about the wrong use of steroids
 now, too.  If you don't have a portable hittable, then take a notebook
 along to record the homework.  Make sure you note the situation and ask
 how many times he/she would like to strike the hittable for this circumstance.
  I bet by the time you get home, the hits won't be very hard or sincere.
  The notebook serves as a way for them to express themselves and helps
 them hold it until later.  Make sure to throw away the paper with the
 record on it with your child; closure helps.

In conjunction with the authorized hittable item, I have been known
 to let my precious, little, God-bestowed darling get hit back.  I
 did not make this a habit; but when the ugly was just too frequent,
 I would instruct the sibling to hit back (while I stood there).  I
 kept this for a extreme measures, since I did not want to communicate
 that this was an okay reaction.  Most times, I had to really encourage
 the other to hit - since they had been so recently wounded they seemed
 to be a bit reticent to apply ugly back.

Sometimes, it is beneficial to look for patterns.  Does the child have
 difficulty with a particular person, situation, time-frame or other
 element?   It is okay to remove your child from situations which he
 is not mature enough to handle; but do practice how to conduct oneself
 in difficult situations.  It has been my experience that bad situations
 and prickly people do not go away, they usually have friends in many
 other places. Perhaps your wee one reacts adversely after a particular
 food, drink or candy.  I am always testy after someone gives me sweet tea.
  Encourage the little one to use words before the actions, "I feel so
 awful that I want to spew this tea across the room" helps me.  But 
of course, the tea is dribbling down my chin by that time and I have
 nothing left to spit.  Anyway, enough about me.

Rewards work well, too.  Document on the calendar when your sweet one
 has gone one day or two or a week  without the errant behavior.  Make
 a deal with him/her to have a treat or sticker or something special
 for the good choices.  We have used stars on a poster board for daily
 measures, bigger stickers for week long behavior and glittery stickers
 for 10-14 day measurements.  Calling a grandparent or other tender
 friend to brag on their accomplishments is helpful, too. Try to pick
 one that will pray for/with your sweetheart, too.  Accountability is
 worthwhile at a young age.

Please know before I continue with the Weapon of Mass-Temper Destruction,
 I never wanted to be a spanking mom.  (I was spanked growing-up (probably
 not nearly as frequently as I deserved) and it was useful to discourage
 my  undesirable behavior - I am not nor have I ever been pictured in the
 post-office.) But since I did not get any perfect children (that story
 has been told in the New Testament) and I am definitely not a perfect
 anything but a mess - well, maybe I even don't do that 100 % - I leaned
 on the teaching which worked from my childhood. So, with that typed, I
 guess I should confess my aforementioned, lastest and bestest secret weapon.
  The Spanking Spoon - a humble, wooden spoon from the kitchen.  My children
 were very aware of the tool we carried around with us from a very young
 age - so much so, that for awhile, it was referred to as the
 'Panking 'Poon - blended consonants were not yet in our vocabulary.
  We did apply at home and consistently.  
Do not apply if you are angry, rather chew on the narrow end until you can maintain.
  Then just a bit of stinging swat on the God-given, well-padded
 bottom hurts the feelings and the bottom sufficiently that usually the
 threat/presence of the spoon is enough in a short time to come.  Explain
 what and why you are doing this with the spoon.  Do not guerrilla spoon
 the child.  The result of the proper use of the SPOON was that there
 was a respect for the spoon in public and private settings.  It's amazing
 the reactions you get when you point out the "spanking spoons" available
 in everyday life.  One of my first and favorite examples to my darlings
 was to show them the large, wooden pizza server from our local Italian
 eatery. My children have never acted up there - even to this day.  What
 is fun is when they start to point the 'spanking spoons' out to each other.
  For a fun time, take a trip to a kitchen supply store.  Silence has never
 been so hysterical.

One thing we (my man and I) made sure to do with as many discipline issues
 that we could was to supply "The Lecture" as the punctuation of the event.
  This is usually long enough for the children to lose whatever fight 
they had in them.  But in the talking time we would point out what God has
 to say about disobedience, dishonoring parents, tempers, anger, slander,
 malice, etc.
  One of the Bible stories our children all received was where Moses lost
 the privilege to enter the Promised Land because of the rock hitting.  Psalms
 and Proverbs are excellent for encouragement, wisdom and words for praying.
  Balaam and his donkey (regarding the hitting) is funny with very good
 principles. This was always the sweetest time, the opportunity to lovingly
 and quietly plant God's word in the hearts of our babies in very real,
 relevant and applicable ways.  We would close the "session" in prayer
 and hugs.  Many times the whole "lecture" was during a hug.

I am praying for wisdom, creativity and teachable hearts for your 
family on this.  I will also pray for your little man to have an 
extra measure of self-control and for his relationship with his 
soon-coming sibling.  That was a long two years in our home; but 
that is another email entirely.  Be encouraged, you are not alone 
and this season passes on to another. 

Oh, by the way, sometimes this era ushers in an era of sassy-ness.
  I have a great recipe for  "Bad-Mouth Potion" that still holds a
 place of honor in our family.  Let me know if you are interested.
My children assure  me that your son would not want to know about that, either.

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