Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Unusual discipline

Mark and I are big believers in having the consequences match the infraction (more commonly known as having the "punishment fit the crime"). Lately we've been having a few issues that just have not seemed to resolve through our traditional discipline methods.

Dima decided he'd had enough towards the end of the day Saturday and had no desire to cooperate any more. Because of some of the things we did on Saturday, the boys had had a pretty substantial snack in the very late afternoon (at 4:30, and we usually eat dinner at 5) so that we could do one more thing and then come home, have a light dinner (really more of a snack), and put them to bed. Unfortunately, after the first snack and extra activity Dima decided he was done attempting to behave or obey. So he went to bed without "dinner". This is something we've never done with the boys before, and we wouldn't have done it had he not eaten already, but the fact that he thought he was missing dinner was enough to convince him to change his attitude the next day. And he was asleep within 10 minutes of crawling in bed, which convinced me that he needed bed more than dinner anyway.

Besides which, he didn't miss much. ;)

Zhenya lately has had a very difficult time chewing with his mouth closed. He can do it, and when he chooses to he has very nice table manners. But lately no amount of reminders have been able to help him keep his mouth closed while he's chewing. I was so fed up with it at lunch on Saturday that I told him the reminders obviously weren't working, and if he couldn't chew with his mouth closed I would mix up all of his food so that he didn't need to chew it. He apparently didn't take me seriously.

That was a mistake on his part. :) :)

For dinner, Zhenya had pureed cheese quesadilla with cucumber and carrots. It made for a very nice soup. Mark was a little concerned that Zhenya would like it and would want all of his food pureed, and at the beginning that appeared to be true. But after a couple of spoonfuls Zhenya decided he wasn't so fond of having his food all mixed together. That seems to have gotten the point across, as he has been doing a much better job of chewing with his mouth closed.

Now, before you fire off any nasty comments, let me add a few things. One, I would never do either of these with children who were not secure in the fact that they will always have food, or who were incapable of understanding what was being offered as a consequence. Two, I would never do this with children who were medically or otherwise incapable of doing what they were asked to do (for example, having a jaw or mouth problem that prevented them from chewing with their mouth closed).

Please don't bother commenting about how you would never do this to your child and you can't believe I would do it to mine. That's fine, and I appreciate that parents have different discipline styles. I only hope that your child is not the one at a community gathering shoveling their food in, talking with their mouth open, and spitting their food back out on their plate. I expect my children to have good table manners consistent with their age (my boys are not expected to be able to cut food that requires a knife yet, because they don't have the motor skills to be able to handle the fork and knife concurrently) and to be learning and attempting to mimic the table manners they see in adults (which, sadly, I often actually don't want them to mimic because they are so horrendous).

It is my job as their parent to be training them into the skills they will need later on in life. True, they may never need to eat off of silver or need to know how to use a table set with multiple knives and forks. But if they do, I want them to have had the training to be able to handle those encounters with grace and dignity and a confidence that they are well-equipped for whatever situations they end up in.


Shannon said...

Have I told you lately that I think your great! :)

Michelle said...

we have a lot in common :)

Journey to our Ukrainian Angel said...

Well no bad comments from me! I have a long list of really interesting things we have done for discipline. :)

Diana said...

I, too have a long list of unusual discipline tactics. You have to do what works for your kids. Hmmm...I might even have to try a couple of these on my kids. :-)

Tami said...

You go girl! LOVE IT! We try to stick with cause and effect discipline as well (although we're not as creative as you! :) i'm going to have to do the pureed food thing. I have two children who are especially bad about chewing with their mouths open no amount of reminding or breaks from the table have helped.
Puree it is! :)

AdoptaMama said...

No criticism from here. I applaud you and wish more moms would take that sort of action. Bad manners are not tolerated at our house. Neither of mine are ornery, whiney kids. It's just plain not allowed. It had been completely nipped in the bud early on and we don't have to deal with it now.
Great job Mama!

Tonya said...


Anonymous said...

I love it! Especially the pureed meal and I may just have to use your idea with one of my sons very soon! Safe travels as you bring your girl home
Kelly in Ohio

Kristin said...

Thank you for being a parent who expects their children to behave and teaches them consequences for their actions. I wish more parents were like you and Mark.

deanie said...

Courtney, we must have read the same discipline book or maybe our moms were just friends. Blessings,
deanie and the boyz

Marsha said...

You have to find what works! My boys have learned (at 13 and 11) that if they choose not to bring their clothes to the laundry room they WILL do their own laundry. It took ONE TIME for them to remember! :) It all comes back to two little things - respect (for yourself and others) and responsibility (for your actions and choices)! Congrats on your beautiful family! I will continue to pray for you guys!

his wife, their mama said...

Your experiences with discipline are wonderful means of encouragement for me. I'll admit that I sometimes worry too much what others will think of how I/we choose to discipline our wee ones, but I need to remember that who they turn out to be is way more important that how others may judge me. Thank you for sharing. Oh, just to warn you, if Zhenya ends up going Basic Training, you may find yourself pureeing his food once again, to help him re-learn how to eat in a social setting!

Leslie G said...

good job!
no flames from me......we have the same style. :-)

We don't have different table manners for home and when out. I expect the same consistent behavior.

We had a similar problem getting one of ours to use a fork. She had no problems operating a fork...it was just quicker to eat spaghetti with hands when she thought mama wasn't looking. Sooooooo...I told her the next day she didn't have to use a fork. In fact, she would not be allowed to use a fork or spoon. She had the smirky grin of victory on her face until I served oatmeal for breakfast the next morning....I know, I'm a MEAN MOM....but my daughter has used a fork ever since with no problem. :-)

Annie said...

Can't beat those creative approaches! I'm impressed.

Anonymous said...

Consider how lucky you are that your children eat and enjoy their food, even if their mouth is open. It could be a lot worse. This too will pass; consider patience and maybe having the child sweep up under the table and wipe the table as an alternative. Your puree technique could backfire terribly - power struggles and chosing not to eat. I suggest not giving a child anything that you are not willing to eat as well. This is small stuff, wait until they are older and have greater problems than this and don't sweat the small stuff.

Julie said...

I love this post. Love it!!

(I'll just email you with my nasty comments later. Totally kidding :)

Kevin and Tammy said...

We are also having a bad time with Kailyn closing her mouth. She does have some tongue thrusting problems but this doesn't effect her lips. We have beat our head against the wall on this one. An open mouth is just not allowed at our table either. Keep up the good work. If you have any more suggestions just let us all know. Hope you get the girls home soon. How is the van hunting going?

Erika said...

You go girl! We have food battles at our house and I have just had to learn to let them go but I have also chosen not to be a short order cook. You eat what I serve of you don't eat. I have learned one missed dinner results in a great breakfast experience for everyone and a better likelihood of eating dinner the next night. I did cringe at the pureed cheese quesadilla because well, it pretty much grossed me out. : )

jena said...

I have had to come up with different ways of doing everything with our two new additions. It takes a lot of brain power! What worked for our older four isn't cutting it with our younger two. At the end of the day, you just have to do what is gonna work for your family!

My two current goals:
1. Stay one step ahead
2. Set them up for success

Audrey said...

This is great. I love creative discipline and I am a HUGE proponent of the punishment fitting the crime. Unfortunately, in the moment, I often lose my creativity! Thanks for the good ideas! ;)