Don't underestimate communication
My youngest son, who is my challenge child, doesn't respond to corporal punishment, nor grounding, nor screaming and yelling. What he DOES respond to is talking. AFTER emotions have calmed down we sit and we talk. And I ask him what he was thinking, what he was feeling and I don't let him get away with “I don't know" or “I don't remember". He knows by now that we'll sit for hours if need be until he has an answer.
When I understand as much as I can of what he was feeling, we talk about how others who were in the situation felt or must of felt and then we go on to ideas on how EACH OF US could have handled it better and ways in which a similar situation can be avoided in the future.
Don't give up, Jenifer. Doctors told me that my baby boy would “never become a productive member of society" due to his emotional issues and diagnoses of OCD, ADHD, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I was told I would be ‘better off’ if I “let the state care for him" so that I could better concentrate on my ‘normal’ children.
Needless to say, I told the doc where to go. Not that it's been easy, it hasn't.
No matter what, there's always hope (and a good dose of determination)
There were days when he was your son's age that I'd go and grab him out of bed after I'd FINALLY gotten him to sleep (he'd stay up for 36 hours at a time) because I'd realize I'd spent the whole day going “No, stop, quit it, don't do that, knock it off. " I'd pick him up, sound asleep, and sit on the couch and hold him, telling him I loved him and fighting tears of frustration.
But today I have a 16-year-old boy who is bright, doing well in school, doesn't drink, doesn't do drugs and is well on his way to becoming the man I never lost faith he could become. He still has challenges and he is still challenging, but when people meet him, none can believe a doctor ever advised me to give up on him.
Don't forget simple respect - a major part of childhood lessons that seems to have become nearly extinct.
I do want to tell you what the one thing is that I think is absolutely imperative for a child to learn. It's really simple too - Respect. Respect for themselves, for others, for animals, nature and laws. I put respect for themselves first because if they learn that, the others just naturally fall into place.
When a child throws a tantrum in public, how many parents make sure the child understands how it made others around him feel? NOT what others around him thought - who gives a hoot about that - we can't live our lives according to what others think of us and we shouldn't teach children to either. But how did they feel? Sad? Distracted?
The other children in story time at the library, did his tantrum make them really sad because they couldn't hear the storyteller? Did something he did scare them? You have to bring a child outside of himself during times of discipline.
There is no “because I said so" - part of learning respect is teaching that all actions and words have consequences and reactions in the people and world around them.
No man is an island, yet we so seldom teach our children about the human consequences of their actions. We are much more likely to tell them how much money they cost us, how they made us look, how mad we are, how much trouble they could have gotten in, etc.
But take them outside of themselves and help them walk that mile in another's moccasins, and you will probably have a much better chance of molding your child in the ways you need to.
You don't always have to be the ‘teacher'
One more thing, and I apologize for this being so long, don't spend every waking minute ‘teaching’. Kids learn - in spite of us parents. They learn in everything they do, say, hear, experience and encounter.
Instead of worrying about what you should be teaching him, stave off future regrets (trust me, they'll happen) and simply take some time every single opportunity you can grab to just HAVE FUN. Even if you can't see how he's ‘learning’ - play - play and have fun with your baby. He will be that age for so little time and the play times are what they remember the most fondly.
My daughter, who is almost 18, had to fill out a questionnaire for school not too long ago and one of the questions was, “What is your favorite memory with your mom?". Her answer was about a time we were on a trip and stopped at one-horse town to go pee. The bathrooms were more like outhouses and we both had gas. (I can't believe I'm telling this).
Anyway, after *noisily* trekking the 100 yards or so to the outhouses, puttering the whole way, we collapsed in giggle fits to the point neither of us could breathe very well. Before that we had been in a hurry to get somewhere and were running late - both of us stressed and frustrated. But that little moment of ‘fun’ not only gave us a much-needed stress reliever, it also stuck with my daughter all these years.
It floored me. After all, we've done together, talked about together, places we've gone together - and her favorite memory is a gassy trek to an outhouse. (shaking head)
I wish you the best of luck and a truckload of patience and love.
Many blessings, Dee
Dee Braun, a single mom of 6 kids, is a Certified Aromatherapist, Certified Dr. of Reflexology and a natural health practitioner. You can visit her at Mom's Blog - http://www.moms-blog.com - a blog just for moms (and dads!) which offers more information on green living, children's health, child natural remedies and parenting advice and insight.
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