Correcting Misbehavior – At Home and Out

I recently wrote about how I really “don’t like loud” – raised voices that is.  But we all know our kids test us in many ways which makes even the most calm, serene, tranquil of us ‘lose it’ from time to time.  Take our daughter Careena (almost 3 – going on 16).  As intelligent and ‘advanced’ as she is (I know all parents think their kid is advanced…but ours really is 😉 – yet another future blog), she apparently forgets the meanings of “no,” “stop,” and “be nice to your sister” every now and then.  So after the stern (and ever so slightly raised) voice telling her these things, we sometimes have to resort to punishing her for not listening.

Something Heather and I feel pretty strongly about is that you really don’t need to be physical with your children – especially younger ones.  Now I won’t say that there is no chance of either of us ever ‘spanking’ our kids, but I think there is a limit that some parents exceed.  There have been many times when we have been in stores or malls and witnessed parents being too physical with their children and yes, we actually have said something or at least approached them so they knew their actions were being observed.  We simply don’t think it is necessary or right.  It is far too easy for a grown adult to forget how much stronger they are than the child.

So we have adopted a couple of methods to correct Careena’s behavior for when we are home or out in public.  At home, we found the “time-out” method to be most effective.  When we are out and about, we have found that denying her something she wants – like going to Target (seriously!) or a certain snack in the car gets the point across.

At home we are probably the most comfortable – as most people – dealing with any misbehavior.  When those moments come, we simply place Careena in the “Time-out Chair” (Dad’s lounge chair) without any toys and explain what she did wrong. We tell her what she did, how long she will be in the time out, and what she has to do to get down.  It usually includes an apology to whoever is appropriate – her Mom for not doing what she was told, or her sister for not sharing or playing nicely, etc.  This has proven to be fairly effective so far…


When we are out, a time-out isn’t really an option.  But leveraging what is important to Careena has proven to work in those situations.  She has an OBSESSION with Target – inherited from her Mother – and she will literally ask to go there daily.  So simply telling her we’re not going to go due to her bad behavior really does immediately get her attention.  When that isn’t working or not an option, we don’t allow her to have the snack she wanted, or the toy or movie she wanted in the car.

Those methods usually work fairly well with Careena.  She often even apologizes without being told or reminded.  But they don’t always work and we find ourselves going over the same statements and reminders trying to get her to understand.  I guess you can only expect so much from a 3 year old.

As far as Hailee goes, we are still feeling our way back through that young of an age.  It seems harder now to know what is most appropriate.  I mean Careena acts so much older than she is in many ways, and combined with Hailee truly “acting her age,” we forget we actually have two little girls that are 3 and under.  You see Hailee’s behavior seems appropriate to us and correcting her, par for the course.  But the fact that Careena is acting – well, her age – seems to slip right by us.  We just expect so much more from her.  And as much as Heather and I acknowledge that possibility afterwards, we fall right back into the same frame of mind.  Did we treat Careena differently when she was younger?  Even though they are only about 20 months apart, it seems like so long ago in many ways.

For now I think we will just stick to our “time outs” and leveraging the little things while we still can.  I do think those are good methods, but then again, that’s just…

This Dad’s View.

How do you deal with discipline or correcting bad behavior? Do you have different methods for different aged children in your home?

I Don’t Like Loud

According to the on-line Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Loud – adjective – a : marked by intensity or volume of sound  b :  producing a loud sound

I…don’t…like…loud… (notice I didn’t even use an exclamation point here since that in itself could be construed as me being ‘loud’).

Now there are all kinds of things I often do prefer to be loud – the roar of a crowd at a football game, my favorite music (although I may be getting old since it doesn’t have to be THAT loud anymore), the surround sound during an action movie, and lastly – at least sometimes, the sound of our children playing and enjoying life as kids…

BUT, there are other things, other times – most other times frankly, that I…don’t…like…loud.

What I am mostly really referring to is how loud a person’s voice can get in different situations.  We all handle things in our own ways based on many factors.  I believe the most obvious influence on this is the environment we grew up in.  Was your family loud?  Were your parents ‘screamers’ when you did something wrong?  Did you have a lot of brothers or sisters fighting for time and attention?  Maybe you were all simply fighting to be heard as individuals?

In my case the answer to all of these questions is a resounding (yet soft) No. 

Now don’t get me wrong I think we all raise our voices from time to time.  Sometimes in direct response to the other person (man, woman, or child) we are trying to communicate with becoming louder.  Notice I said “trying” since true communication requires your thoughts or feelings to be understood by the other person.  Without that understanding, you are merely making sounds possibly heard that may or may not have had the appropriate meaning attached to them.  But that is another discussion in and of itself.  Back to my point…

I am not a parent who takes the extreme approach in speaking and interacting with our daughters as if they are grown adults at the same intellectual level as me.  But I do firmly believe that dealing with them as calmly and rationally as possible (emphasis on ‘possible’) will be far more effective than “losing it” when they are not stopping, starting, doing, listening, standing, sitting, walking, or whatever it is I am wanting them to do.  Reference my earlier examples of how or why people get louder in attempts to be ‘heard.’

I think it is important to teach the girls at every opportunity.  So yes, I even try to explain to some degree why they need to do it or why they are being reprimanded in some way when they don’t – which reminds me that I want to talk about ‘punishment’ in a future post as well.  I think a lesson is learned by both the girls and me.  They hopefully learn the specific point being made about their behavior, etc., but also learn to apply that to future situations.  And I slowly learn what does and doesn’t work in my attempts to teach them – or so I like to think.

My sister has a son that when he was very young, she spoke to almost like a peer.  At the time I thought she was a nut case.  In pre-school, he made statements like, “That little boy’s behavior is very inappropriate for the playground, isn’t it Mommy?”  And I thought the kid was growing up way too fast.  Let him be a kid!  Her son turned out to be a very caring, intelligent, successful young man, so maybe she was actually on to something.

So as I was saying, I try to keep a level tone and interact with our girls in a calm manner.  I rarely raise my voice and when I do it is typically for a single “No!” or “Stop it!” or “Don’t hit your sister!” or something else along those lines to merely get their attention.  But then when I am trying to explain, I ensure eye contact and slowly talk through what just happened, etc. in a normal, controlled voice.

There is no question in my mind that our kids learn from our behavior in all respects – how loving and caring we are, how we interact with people in all situations, and our manners and even mannerisms.  So why would I want to demonstrate behaviors that would not – or at least should not be accepted in public or professional settings?  I mean could you imagine if everywhere we went from the store to your work, we yelled and screamed at each other every time we communicated or didn’t get our way?  I have worked with and for individuals who were like that and had no respect for them, and generally hated being in the environment.

When we scream at our kids, are they really hearing and understanding us better, or are we simply sounding angry and scary thus making them louder and worsening the situation anyways?  And isn’t all of that just teaching them the wrong way to communicate?  I think so, but then that’s just –  

This Dad’s View.