Part of our jobs as parents is to correct our children when they make mistakes. I envision myself as the guardian/border collie nipping at their heels when my beloved flock strays in the direction of the steep cliffs. I’m not normally prone to romantic flights of fancy, but this part of the parenting job is hard for me. I need all the motivation I can get.
Part of the difficulty is deciding what the correct corrective action for this particular situation and this particular child is. When my daughter was younger, if she had done something she knew she wasn’t to do, merely saying her name in a scolding tone would bring her to full-remorse-posture: eyes downcast, chin drooping on chest, sagging shoulders. My youngest son, however, did not respond to verbal correction, time outs, (I would have to stand over him with my hand on his head to keep him from getting up) spanking, (as in one or two swats to the bottom) but I learned a hold that mental health professionals use on troubled children that restrains without injury that youngest son so disliked, that the mere mention of it usually got him to change the offending behavior.
Tailoring the correction to the child is probably the most challenging part. They respond so differently to the same situations. Another story:
The boys were trying to stab each other with sharpened pencils. It started out as a friendly “sword fight,” but quickly turned dark and angry. I told them to stop. They ignored me. I told them to stop in my commanding mother tone. They ignored me. I stood up, got between them and they still were trying to stab each other around me. I brought my open hand down on the top of each of their heads simultaneously. Stunned, they stopped. Then youngest son said, “That didn’t hurt.” I replied, ” I wasn’t trying to hurt you. If I was, you would be laying bloody in the corner.” Middle son said, “Great! You teach us to not be violent by hitting us.” I replied, “You teach me that you don’t listen to me until I do.”
Not our finest moment.
I’m still not sure I did the right thing.