Monday, May 6, 2013

Unschooling, Part 8: Discipline

When I think of discipline, I definitely think of punitive measures: spanking, time out, losing privileges/toys. I spanked Maggie one time. She was almost two and I hadn't decided yet what I thought about spanking. One night Maggie and I were laying in bed in the dark, she reached over and hit me in the face. I don't remember why she was upset (nor did I particularly care at the time) but it hurt like hell (because it was dark, I didn't realize it was coming and didn't flinch or move or anything). So I reached over and spanked her twice hard. She immediately started crying and saying she wanted someone to protect her. That was a bad moment. I apologized to her and I decided then and there I would never spank again. As they say on the unschooling boards, I took it out of my toolbox.

Then I primarily used time out. At first it seemed successful but eventually she didn't care. I've tried various counting and revoking privileges and taking away toys.

When I think about all of this, I see the same problem with every one of these tactics. None of them deal with the problem. Why was Maggie hitting me in face? Why was acting up or out? What did she need that I wasn't providing? Attention, food, drink, sleep, affection, understanding? And how much more distance was I putting between us by punishing her for trying to get her needs met?

What I do now is try to remove her from the situation (if possible or necessary) and talk to her or hug/hold her or just sit with her. I try to tell her I love her.

My main observation of needing discipline is this: when I'm engaged with whatever Maggie is doing, she rarely acts up. When I've got my head stuck in my lap top, she tends to act up. That's definitely something I can change.

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