It has taken me a while to write about this, because nobody wants to talk about the bad things that their kids do. We just want to pretend like we got our stuff together at all times and our children are picture perfect little people. Ha!
Well, it all started with an argument about cereal. Yes, over a bowl of cereal. It actually started when I announced that it was bedtime. For some reason, it’s a surprise every night that we have to go to bed. So, what does my son do, he pulls the infamous “I’m hungry! You never feed me!” act. Well, I wasn’t really having it. “I want cereal!”, He demanded. “No, eat a pack of crackers instead. It’s already bedtime. It’ll take much longer for you to finish a bowl of cereal”, I explained. Defying my every word, he continued on like a 3 year shouting that he wants cereal as he proceeds to pull the milk from the fridge. I put my foot down, “I said No”. So, out of rage, my son took that full gallon of milk and threw it down on the floor. Milk splattered everywhere and I could hear the milk pouring out from the side of the carton like a waterfall. My son huffed and puffed trying to show his anger. After the initial shock, I rushed to grab what was left of the carton and tossed it in the sink. Immediately as I turned around, my son quickly changed his emotions. I’m assuming my face had said it all, because he knew he was in big time trouble.
I must say, I was very proud of myself. I never yelled or shouted. I was very calm. “I’m sorry. Mommy, I’m sorry”, he repeated. He hated it when I didn’t speak back. He always thinks that “sorry” cleans his slate, and I should always follow it up with “I forgive you”. Truth was, I couldn’t forgive him right away. I buried my anger inside and just kept trying to think it through, so I wouldn’t blow up over the incident. I just pointed to the hamper, and replied, “Towel”. So, he grabbed the towel and started cleaning up the milk. It was such a horrible mess.
I just kept trying to figure out what was going through his head. It’s not that he doesn’t know any better. He has never done anything quite like this before either. I believe that it stems from our recent move. Since, it was an unexpected, it ripped away his normal routine that we’ve been so accustomed to for the past three years. Beings that we live further away now, time at home is much shorter. I can understand that he may have anger, because life isn’t going his way. All of this may have an effect on him, however his actions were inexcusable.
After he cleaned up the mess, he turned to me and asked, “Am I grounded?”. Now, grounded in our home means no electronics. When I was little, my parents use to ground me to my bed. Not my bedroom, my bed. Of course I realize that it’s not an excessive punishment, but I never liked the feeling of being isolated and trapped. I never learned anything from it, except for anxiety. I never wanted the same for my son. So, I responded to my son, “Yes. No TV. No video games. No tablet. Nothing”. He never tried to wager the punishment, because he knew that he deserved it. “For how long?”, he inquired. “I don’t know, at least all day tomorrow. Now, I want you to go brush your teeth and go straight to bed”. As he brushed his teeth, I calmly talked to him trying to get him to understand the extent of his actions and why punishment had to be placed. After he finished brushing his teeth, he laid down for bed. He wept with multiple apologizes. I could sense that he learned his lesson, but I knew that I had to be stern. I am the parent, I make the rules and I can not be a softy! ugh, but it’s so hard! Tears are the worst, but I already had my mind-set to not give in. I knew it was only best.
The next day, we got up for school. No TV in the morning and no tablet in the car. Everything actually went pretty smooth. No arguments, no distractions. Just the radio, talking and my son playing with figurines on the way to school. I was definitely enjoying the peaceful morning.
My biggest mistakes that I have made in the past with taking away electronics was that I never gave him enough to occupy his mind. He needs something to keep him stimulated and to keep his mind off of his troubles. Let’s be realistic, no kid sits there thinking about the bad things they have done. They only think about how much longer they have until their punishment is over. Punishment is helpful in the way that they’ll hopefully remember what it was like to lose electronics or playtime, so that they’ll never repeat their actions.
So, this time I gave him plenty of things to do. It was after Halloween, but I held onto a craft kit that we never used yet. So, we opened it up and started gluing pieces together. Before we knew it, we had created a little monster.
My son loves playing cards over his mom mom’s house, so I decided to try them at home. I’ve never played the games called, War & Trash before. So, my son taught me how to play both games. This was a great way to make my son feel like he had revived himself by teaching me something new. I could tell that it made him feel better about his situation and also important.
Once we got tired of playing cards, he requested his doodle book. There is a book called, The Boys’ Doodle Book. It truly is awesome. He can draw using his imagination and continue drawings to finish the stories in the book. It definitely keeps him occupied. Then, before we knew it, it was bedtime.
I learned that electronics take away a lot of valuable time. Throughout the entire punishment, he spoke very kind and gentle. I think it was because his mind wasn’t overly stimulated by electronics. His mood was better, and I also felt like I was there for him even more, because the electronics were put away. Maybe it was that even closer bond that my son needed to push away his doubts, stress and anger. So, for now on we will be putting on a very strict amount of electronics and focus more on happiness. Seems as though we have both learned some lessons from this experience.