Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Humbled

It's 8:30, my kids are in bed and the dishes from dinner aren't cleaned up. I should be loading the dishwasher, but first I need to vent...

Today, I went to Target with 4 kids (mistake #1). I needed to exchange some shoes for my daughter and decided to let her help me pick them out (mistake #2). I forgot to set the guidelines pre shoe decision making time (fatal mistake ). To me the guidelines were intuitive, but apparently they were not to my six year old. These were my expectations:
A- The shoes must fit
B - They must be summer shoes to replace the ones we returned
C - They must not have glitter on every possible surface area, or have high heels. (and lest this sounds too harsh, I need to tell you that I bought said 6 year old tacky high heeled sandals at the ARC not two days prior.)

40 minutes after the shoe trying on began we were no where closer to a decision than when we started. My patience was wearing VERY thin. I told my daughter that I would give her 2 choices and 1 minute to decide. At the end of 1 minute no decision had been made. So per the "Love and Logic" parenting book I decided for my daughter.

Hysteria ensued. My 6 year old screamed and cried and begged and flopped on the ground. She threw a rug, and then started trying to throw punches. I literally had to hold her so she wouldn't hit me or knock shoes off the shelf. Old ladies raised their eyebrows. Teenage boys snickered. One 2 year old just stared in amazement. My daughter was completely and utterly out of control -it took a good 10 minutes to get her to settle down enough for me to even begin to get out of the store. By the grace of God, I was not embarrassed. And I am hard headed enough not to give in. I was, however, exhausted. Wrestling a 6 year old is harder than managing a 2 year old's temper tantrum.

Hubby said that if it were him our daughter would have gotten a spanking as soon as she got to the car. The idea crossed my mind, and it does have merit. But, in general, our daughter responds poorly to this type of discipline. So what did I do? I gave her a granola bar with M&Ms, and told her all the fun activities I had planned were henceforth cancelled so we could go home and she could rest. More crying. When we pulled into the garage M crawled up into my lap and I told her I loved her whether she was sweet or she acted like a brat at the store. As soon as M got to her room and her head hit the pillow she was asleep. I'm sure her fit exhausted her.

I know this seems like a lame punishment for a kid who was acting THAT bratty. But this child, in particular, falls apart when she is tired or hungry. And I actually felt kinda sorry for her. She was SO out of control; she could not get it together.

M woke up with a sweet spirit and eager to please. But I wonder sometimes if I'm missing something. What's wrong with my parenting that my daughter would act that way? I'd expect it from a 2 year-old, but 6? Of the two of us, I'm the less strict parent. I don't care if my kids go places with their shoes on the wrong feet. Hubby cannot stand it. I don't think I'm a push-over though. It's not as if throwing temper tantrums get my children what they want. Can it be as simple as giving a kid a snack and a nap, or have I encouraged future fit throwing? Stiff consequences change my boys' hearts. Usually, that's all they need to be repentant. M gets stubborn and passive aggressive. She almost always needs to be shown grace before she is repentant. Is that messed up? Is showing grace the same as coddling or is it one of the most powerful tools we have as parents to shape our children's hearts?

2 comments:

Kathy Slattengren said...

It sounds like you handled this beautifully. It isn't easy to remain calm when your child is pitching that kind of fit (especially in a store after looking at shoes for 40 minutes!). However, you managed to do that plus treat her with compassion. I think your consequence was perfect. She missed out on some fun activities and napped instead. You treated her with respect and dignity. Your relationship with her will be stronger because of that. Great job!

Karen said...

Wait ... are you talking about my daughter?

There's a verse in one of Paul's epistles (and at the moment I'm too lazy to go in the other room and look it up) that says God's kindness leads us to repentance. I fall back on that from time to time - sometimes it takes strict consequences, but sometimes it takes kindness and grace. And it always takes trusting in the wisdom He gives to know when to use which!