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Monday, February 22, 2010

Touchy Topic Tuesday- Public Discipline

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Welcome to Touchy Topic Tuesday!!!!
Today's Topic:
Public Discipline

Sundays are always hard for us. I don't know whose brilliant idea it was to put sacrament meeting last, but I'd really like to know so I can give him a piece of my mind.

After 2 hours already of behaving in class, we shuffle our children into the chapel to endure another hour and 10 minutes (unless the speakers are long winded, or the person saying the closing prayer is one of those people who has to list every blessing we have- in which case, it can be more like an hour and a half.) of talks, songs, and scripture.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like sacrament. Usually. But I haven't heard much of a talk, or sung an entire hymn in near 5 years now. You know, since I became a mother. I'm actually quite fond of our little ward. There are a lot of kids. And it is rare that my child is the only one talking during a prayer (Mahone), or crying because the sacrament water just wasn't enough to quench her thirst (Scarlet).

Still, even though our congregation is blessedly and comfortably loud, there are occasional instances where one of my children has to be taken out and beaten disciplined. Of course, on more than one tired Sunday morning, when a child was being hauled out into the cultural hall for a good talking to, the whole ward could hear such blatant terror in our children's voices when they shouted for all to hear, things like "Don't DO it daddy!", "Spanking is NEVER the answer!", "Mommy, save me!", or "You don't want to do this!"
Of course, within minutes, the culprit walks calmly back into the chapel, arms folded, smiling like an angel, and has a seat on the pew to much on a bag of gummies or play with transformers.
Likewise, once a week, at least, I haul all three of my children to Wal-Mart (the only grocery store here in my small town) to do our shopping. You would think that they'd have behavior down pat, since it's a common occurrence for us. And, admittedly, they usually do. But, there are a lot of weeks in one year, and there have been several times where I have had to haul my children to the back of Wal-Mart, where the restrooms are, and plop their little bottoms down on one of the benches back there and make them sit out a tantrum or time out.
Then on our way we go, merrily as the boat in the song.

Over and over again, I have heard, both from friends in random conversations, and from complete strangers who see one of my children in the throes of a tantrum, flailing on the dirty tiled floor, that if my child is misbehaving the best way to nip that in the bud is to pick up and leave.

But really?

Obviously, that will work in some cases. At the playground, perhaps? Sure, if my child is having a heck of a day trying to get along with other children, then yeah, you scoop the kid up and take him home, and let him know that next time, if he can remember to play nicely, then we can stay.

But what about other places? I really do HAVE to go grocery shopping. I really do NEED to be at church. What kind of a message does it send to a child to know that he can throw a fit whenever he wants, and mommy will drop everything to take him home? How long do YOU think it will take him to figure out that a temper tantrum will get him back home where he wants to be, instead of having to hold on to the shopping cart as we slowly meander up and down all the isles EXCEPT for the one HE wants to go down? You know, the one filled with candy? The one that STARTS his tantrum?

I'm sorry, but while my children are my whole world, I am not willing to

1. Give them that kind of power over me and my necessary duties

2. let them feel that the whole world revolves around them

3. Let them think that things, such as Church, are not important enough for me to stick it out, even though it's just as hard for me to be there WITH crying, hungry, tired children, as it is for them to sit there AS crying, hungry, tired children. This is an important place for our family to be. They will never learn to sit and listen and be reverent if we up and leave with every disobedience.


4. Walk out of a store, leaving behind a shopping cart chock full of groceries that I NEED to feed said dear children with, just so I can come back another time and do it all over again. Call me lazy. I'm not doing it.

Besides, even at the park, isn't it nicer to make them sit next to you for 3 minutes on a time out, then talk to them about their problem, and let them practice what they've learned from their experience, than it is to haul a screaming child home, only to listen to him continue to cry and beg to go back?

As far as the type of public discipline, I think that if you are not comfortable using your type of discipline in public, then you probably shouldn't be using that type of discipline at all- even when you're at home.

And for the record, yes, I spank. And yes, I have spanked my child in public. That is not to say I beat the kid, but a swift swat on the bum while I sit them on the Wal-mart bench isn't anything worse than what I do at home, nor is it something that will draw major attention. As I have experienced before, it's usually the child screaming at me that draws the attention. Not my discipline measures.

So what do YOU think? Do you discipline in public? Do you discipline differently in public than you do at home? Or are you one of those parents who up and books it out of a public place whenever your child acts up?

I'd love to know! Lets chat! Leave a comment, and play nice!


The JAMC Johnsons said...

Saw that you joined my community, and I love your blog. I am just now getting around to actually telling you that. Anyways, yes, I discipline in public. Yes, I swat on the bottom. And our sacrament is first, but we have it at 2 PM...which means cranky kids who are tired. But I totally agree with you...walking out of something? Not an option. My kids have to learn to live in the world, and that means sometimes being in a place we don't like. I don't think removing them from a situation teaches them anything. Just my opinion.

Ruby said...

I too disciplin in public acutally did today little man tried acting a fool while we were doing our taxes i gave him the look and he tried to play me so i swatted his behind . I won't lie the people in there looked at me like i was crazy i went ahead an assumed they dont have kids therefore they have no idea that his behavior was out of the ordinary and not acceptable and i wasn't going to cater to his want because he felt like acting crazy :)

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

I totally agree with all of you.
And just so you know, I took our cranky baby out of sacrament on Sunday and a minute later our 2-year old comes wondering out. A few minutes later, my husband came looking for our 2-year old. A minute later, our 3-year old came looking for daddy, and a minute later, our 5 year old came looking for everyone else.
We literally had the chase the boys down. I got lots of comments from people who said how much they enjoyed the side show. *sigh*

Michelle said...

I am fully prepared to have tomatoes thrown at my head for this comment.

My kids never threw tantrums in public.


The worst it got was my oldest would cry big crocodile tears when it was time to leave the playground.

My Little One has never, ever had a tantrum. It's not her personality. She's almost angelic. She's 6 1/2 years old now. My Big Kid screamed enough in her first 12 months of life to get most of it out of her system. She's 11 1/2 now, so her tantrums come in the form of huffs and stomping away.

What did I do right? I don't know. But may I offer suggestions to others?

1. Give the kid something to control. Something otherwise unimportant to you. My girls always get to choose two things: A box of fruit snacks and they choose from a predetermined selection of breakfast cereals (You can choose A, B, or C. Choose quickly or I will choose for you.) Would you like grapes or strawberries this week? Simple choices.

2. In-nay the candy aisle. Skip it. Also have a firm NOTHING FROM THE REGISTER SECTION stance.

Just thought I'd throw those out there.

On to disciplining in public: I think it's important for a kid to save face, so when I've found it necessary to discipline in public, I've made sure to remove ourselves to a private location. I might spank once a year if that. I get to the child's eye level and speak in a very monotone, deep voice, looking the child right in the eye -- it comes out like a growl almost. I speak directly and let them know what the consequence is or will be if the behavior continues and tell them exactly what I want and expect from their behavior from that point on. When I get a confirmation of comprehension, we return to the task at hand.

I would *never* leave a cart full of groceries for someone else to put away. And I would never be so child-centered as to let a child's poor choices dictate MY day.

Great topic, as usual.

Cindermommy said...

When I was in a child development class in college, the professor told us to remove the chilld from the situation and tell them things like "I see you have chosen not to go to the park today" if misbehavior occurs. But, like you, I think that only works for things they are invested in, like the playground. Because if I told me daughter "I see you have chosen not to go to the store today" she would just agree and hop back to the car.

Christina said...

i totally, totally agree about the first part on not just removing them from the situation. Very good points.
Id write more on it but my son is having a little tantrumish behavorior himself

ALI said...

Wow... How timely a query, considering my son is entering his Terrible 2s…

So what do YOU think? Do you discipline in public? Do you discipline differently in public than you do at home? Or are you one of those parents who up and books it out of a public place whenever your child acts up?
I’m still working on how I feel. I know that I always go for redirection a few times before using the swift swat. And, to this point, he has never challenged my redirection in public, so I’m not sure how that will work.

At this point, he generally gets the drift of Mommy has more will power when he squawks, and I just ignore it. Or, depending on why, just holding him tightly not moving – so he realizes, no matter how hard he fights, he is not getting what he wants. But I realize this is age applicable, and it was a lot easier at 18 months than it is now at 24.

I have never left a place simply because of his behavior. On Saturday, I did not linger after completing lunch, when he started to become very vocal on his meltdown. My sister-in-law took J to the car, as I paid the bill, but had she not been there, I would have just kept talking to him in an attempt to distract him.

When I read:

I would *never* leave a cart full of groceries for someone else to put away. And I would never be so child-centered as to let a child's poor choices dictate MY day.

I laughed, because that is sooo me… I thought it was just because I have such limited time, working 4 days a week. I know I have gotten many of looks grocery shopping with a squirmy fussy toddler in my cart. I have also gotten many acts of sympathy from mom’s who have been there before. Things like helping me pick up food he has tossed from my cart. Smiles of sympathy & commiseration.

I think the best comment of all was a mom who heard me softly talking to my son while he was screaming & I was shopping.

“Before I was a mom, I never thought I would try to reason or bargain with my child. And yet, I started doing it before they could talk. In the end, it is a compromise between what I need, as Mom, & letting them develop into the person they are becoming”

And I took that as such a compliment, because that was just what I was trying to do… Balance our families need for food in the house, with his lack of desire to be confined to the shopping cart when he was hungry & tired.

I'm NOT a VOLCANO! said...

MIchelle- no veggie throwing here! LOL! No, actually, i understand, and USE your advice completely- it's really very rare that my children act up in public. CHurch is the most common place for misbehavior, but I think we're over that hump with my son. Lilly's almost 5 and is also an angel- she sits and sings, and eats a snack, but mainly, she just sits there.

Mahone is my hard one, and for awhile, he was just a terror in church. But he always knew that if he has to leave sacrament meeting, he had to sit on a chair, quietly, with his arms folded. If he sat nicely in church, then he got to have a snack and color and play with quiet toys. Which one sounds better? It's obvious. Still, like I posted, sacrament is last. I think it's really only such a hard time for him because he has already been to sunbeams (his class for his age) and to Primary (Where ALL the kids are together and sing and stuff) Those are fun times, and they have a little more freedom than they do in sacrament where they ahve to just sit and be nice and quiet. They can sing and talk and all- but still, it's been 2 hours already. Heck, it's hard for ME to sit still after 2 hours of class, let alone my 4, 3 and 2 year olds! LOL!

As for Wal-Mart, I've only had to do the time out thing 2 times. Once, it was Mahone having a problem while Lilly was back there using the restroom. In the mean time, Mahone threw a fit, and I set him on the bench and told him that when he calmed down, we'd talk. It was an older person who worked there who told me I should take him home.

The second time we had a melt down at Wal-Mart was because, well- first, I always let my children pick a 'goody' from the seasonal isle (like, right now, they could pick an easter goodie) if they behave themselves. One day they didn't behave and I didn't let them pick a treat, and at the check out stand, Lilly threw a hollering screaming fit, which is much out of character for her. Mahone looked sad for a minute, and then said "Okay- I'll be good next time." IT was a huge shock for me, as he's usually the one who freaks out. Again, it was an older man who told me I should take the kids home. He was in line behind me, and was really irritated. I just told him I was checking out, and almost done.

I am noticing that it's the older generation who thinks this way- and considering such, I don't think that older man had ever been grocery shopping with children at all in his life. Lilly, though, didn't calm down until we were in the car. Once she did, though, we were able to talk about her behavior and she agreed that she was not well behaved, and I haven't had a problem with her since. Now, Scarlet just turned two, and while my other children are growing out of it, I know there will be an instance or two that I have to deal with with her.

And I also completely agree that giving htem a chore to do (a job, a responsibility) keeps them occupied. I do that too- and have them pick however many apples, or zucchinis or a bottle of ranch or whatever. IT does help to keep them involved.

So far, thank you everyone for all your comments! I love Touchy Topic TUesdays! It's so fun to see what everyone has to say!

I'm NOT a VOLCANO! said...

Ali- it is SOOOO nice to get the knowing looks and the quiet encouragement from other moms. I try to do the same. It evens out the dirty looks we get from older people who have forgotten what it was like, or childless people who just have no clue at all.

OC Fun Blog said...

Great blog! I think everyone can relate to the perils of parenthood:)This is just one of them. I don't think that there is just one right answer for disciplining a child because each child is so very different. While public discipline in varing degrees may be devestating for one child it may not affect another at all. The personality and will of the child and parent for that matter have a lot to do with that. As for me, I have one child that will repsond to this type of discipline and another who will push the bar as far as the bar will go and beyond so this type of discipline can work against us sometimes:) I love your outlook on commitment to duties in life and showing your children this is important.

Following from MBC!

Casey said...

We do discipline them in public too. We always take them either to the car or the restroom so no one else sees. They have to learn to behave and we have things that need to get done. I personally don't think other people should worry about how others raise their children. Everyone is different and as long as the child isn't being harmed in a bad way then let everyone parent their own way.

We have had some of our children yell out in public, don't spank me don't spank me. It is always embarrassing but doesn't change what we do.

I'm NOT a VOLCANO! said...

Casey- I always found that so funny- embarrassing, but funny. Anyone who knows my kids knows they're not afraid of us in the slightest. If we beat them, they'd probably be afraid or have other issues. LOL. They don't even get spanked a LOT, and usually, the church thing is just a time out out in the hall where their arguing won't disrupt the other people who want to feel the spirit. Not a spanking. But they still scream those things.

Kerri said...

I have placed my oldest son (almost 4) in time out at Walmart a handful of times. One time I did it in the middle of an isle and I got an earful from a stranger standing by. I'm not going to run and hide so that my children learn how to behave properly. I will teach them in the moment..not later, not never, in the moment.

We went grocery shopping this morning in fact and I find that giving my oldest items to find helps wonders. I get that they are going to act like kids and not angels.

Giving something they can control..helps. But I never hesitate to discipline in public just like I never hesitate to discipline at home.

Consistency helps them learn "That Mama don't play that game" a whole lot quicker.

Anonymous said...

It must be very humiliating to get a spanking in public. I am 12, my parents spank me hard regularly with belt or cane but never in public (not even when younger). I saw some children spanked in public and they were suffering more from the shame than the pain. Especially when friends saw it.

Anonymous said...

In our family, if the kids are misbehaving while we're out and about, we write an X on their hand. The X means that when we get home, the child receives a punishment. This way you can discipline the child in public without spanking them then and there.

Another thing we do is a more positive "points" system. Everyone starts at zero. When a child does something helpful or kind, they get a point. When they misbehave or ignore mom, they lose a point. We usually set a goal, and if they reach that goal, they get something special. A snack in the car, a chance to take pictures with mommy's cell phone, etc.


Rachel said...

To those who say remove yourself... I would wonder what they would do with three young kids and the legitimate need to feed one's family? Like you, I am not leaving the grocery store. We discipline in public too, but I try to make it a private event (the corner, etc.)

Mimi said...

Brae, I know my kids are teenagers now, but they were little once and you and I basically have disciplined much the same. When Alex and Kotah were small enough to wear a nice thick diaper they would get a swat on the bum(whether in public or not) when they were misbehaving but by the time they were old enough to be out of the diaper... we discovered that time outs worked on these two kids much better, so time out it was. We have always had the fortunate luck to have Sacrament Meeting first! Still there were days when we did have to take ours out to have a talking to or little time out. I do agree; how would they ever realize how very important it was to be at church if I just let them leave when they weren't in the mood to be there.
I don't know if how I have disciplined my children is necessarily the right way to do it, but it worked for us and our family. I have two of the most respectful, kind and for the most part well behaved teenagers around. I don't know if it was my doing or if I was just incredibly blessed with such great kids but I like to think it was a little of both.
And I like to think that is because we stuck it out in sacrament meeting week after week in their learning how to act appropriately years that they are both so very strong in the gospel now. I am amazed by these two kids daily and I thank my Father in Heaven for allowing me to have them in my life and for all the learning and education I got from teaching them. It's a win win with kids! :)

Geerts said...

I certainly discipline in public! but I have a rule of thumb if my son is somewhere like the park, playground or a place that is for him, he gets one waring then a time out and then if he doesn't behave we simply go home. if its a place i need to be like grocery shopping he gets a warning then a time out, repeat if necessary, i will never leave a place i need to be so if he continues to misbehave i simply ignore him and when we get home he get a time out and usually a nap!

esianoyam3 said...

I'm not going to get into the discipline thing, because I feel that different things work for different parents (and even different children within the same family). I'm not against spanking (as long as it's not done in the heat of the moment), but it didn't work for EDD, and we're not quite at that point with the second munchkin, so I'm not sure what type of discipline will work with her.

She's JUST reaching that point where she's getting the "I'm going to test you" look in her eyes when you tell her not to do something. So far, redirecting her attention (since logic doesn't work yet) to something else is usually effective (unless she's tired), but we'll just have to wait and see, I guess.

Regardless of the discipline method, I think consistency and follow through (and not making threats that you can't possibly keep) are important. Whether your child responds better to discipline or earning rewards (or losing said rewards or points or whatever due to bad behavior), you just have to do what works for you AND them.

Just wanted to sympathize with sacrament being last. We had to deal with that last year (and church didn't get out until 4:30) and it was brutal.

Lourie said...

My rules don't change. I don't leave Wal*Mart etc. My biggest fit thrower is my son who is now 4. And boy he tries really hard. Haha. My girls not so much. But you are right. They need to learn. And can I just say...Sacrament last!? That is just crazy. Rally the moms and make some noise. haha.

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

I am past the spanking stage with our kids, but I can say that I DID discipline when out. It's important for kids to know that the standards apply everywhere. And I never left a cart full of hard won groceries, either. :) I did practice finding a more private place to discipline, whether it was at church, at a party, at WM, or at a park. I did that more for the child than for the watching public. I wanted them to learn and to understand (and feel) the consequences, but I didn't want to crush their dignity. I think that privacy helped to communicate love. We always ended our discipline moments with a hug and an "I love you," so that we reminded our two that discipline is because we love them.

You'll be so glad that you set the tone for following through with your expectations while your kids are young; it makes the teen years more of a joy and less of a struggle.

Stand firm, mommies! Loving, ;) but firm.

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