August 18, 2011

The poopy head club

So I've been thinking...

I have an almost 3 year old (holy moly!!) and well, she's extreme. Her love is extreme, she's extremely affectionate, her level of loud can be deafening and her tantrums can be pretty exhausting.  Clover is smart. Which means her level of understanding requires 'extreme' manipulation sometimes.

The other day, my friend's daughter said "poopy head" or something along those lines, to which my friend rolled her eyes and said, "the joys of daycare."  Which got me thinking (hence the creative first line of this post) about discipline.  When a child does something wrong, and you react to it, they will most likely do it again just for attention.  So sometimes, I ignore certain things Clover does in hopes that she will not repeat it - and sometimes it works.  However, other times I feel like I have to react.  For instance, Clover said she wanted to 'kill' something the other day, which she has only heard in reference to "killing a bug." I reacted, and maybe it worked, maybe it didn't - it hasn't been long enough to determine that yet.

This is where I think patterns of "bad" behavior begin.  I can just picture my friend's daughter in her daycare setting... Another child in class, probably with an older sibling, calls someone else a "poopy head." They probably get in trouble and have to sit in time-out.  The other children see this and know that "poopy head" is now in the attention-getting category.  They say it when they need attention at school, they come home and say it to get attention from their parents, they teach it to siblings and friends - pretty soon "poopy head" has spread like the flu.  Every child is saying it.  It's like a secret "poopy head" club.

Enter bad behavior stage 1: learning the thrill.  Clover has learned that when I'm nursing Miles, I'm a couch parent.  I use words without action. She uses this to her advantage.  She'll climb up on the coffee table and give me her sly little I-know-I'm-doing-something-wrong-and-you-can't-stop-me grin.  She enjoys it.

As they get older, they need bigger thrills.  Cussing, stealing, bullying, talking back, driving too fast, staying out too late, drugs, alcohol, sex...

I don't believe people that do bad things were born to be bad.  Yes, part of it is has to do with their personality traits.  Some kids need bigger thrills.  But I think a bigger part of it has to do with how they were disciplined.

So, what is the right way?  How do you prevent children from becoming drug addicts?  I have no idea.

I do know that I need to focus on giving my children good attention so they won't crave the bad.  I can tell when Clover needs a little bit of extra attention.  When she starts to act out, I know a big part of it is lack of attention, specifically from me.  I've noticed that when she does something "bad" repeatedly, it is because my reaction is getting louder and more harsh, thus, more attention.

So, in summary: Ignoring your children is bad. It will cause them to act out.  Ignoring their "bad" behavior is bad.  It will cause them to act out.  Reacting to their bad behavior is bad. It will cause them to act out.

Parenting is an amazing and insane ride.

No comments:

Post a Comment