Tag Archives: Discipline

Thoughts on Discipline

I’ve been writing about how I’m trying to let natural consequences rule the day when it comes to discipline around these parts. In some ways it’s working; in others, not so much.

As I write this Hope is about to miss the bus again and make her way down to the bus stop. Of this three-day school week, she’s clocking two late days. It’s time for me to look and see if she will eventually get detention for her tardiness; maybe that will make a difference. I don’t know.

I am still struggling with letting it go and not intervening too much. The instinct is to protect one’s kid from consequences. You don’t want them to suffer or hurt, but they also need to understand that life requires some discipline.

I think my strengths are better applied to responding to clear rule breaking.  Recently Hope broke a pretty significant house rule. The funny thing is I wouldn’t have known about it if she didn’t insist on snitching on herself. Seriously, she is a leaky bucket when it comes to keeping a secret.

Anyhoo, I had to sit down after our initial calm confrontation and think about what to do. Over time I’ve come up with a bunch of questions that I ask myself as I think through discipline.

Ok, so, there is a broken rule.

Does this really require a response?

Am I angry?

Is there any humor in this situation?

Do I understand why she did it?

Is this a trauma thing?

Is this a dumb teen thing?

Is this an adoption thing?

Will certain kinds of discipline trigger more undesirable behaviors?

If yes, is it really worth it?

Is safety a concern?

Can I have a glass of wine?

How can I end this unpleasant experience with a relaxing glass of vino?

I’ve created a Venn diagram of my decision tree.


All decisions end with “Drink Wine.”

I try to be consistent, but I also try to be sure to avoid triggers. I also need to make sure that we stay connected throughout the experience; I don’t want to push her away.

I often think about how when I was punished as a kid I was sent to my room or grounded. I was restricted. With Hope…I can’t do that. I need to find ways of applying a consequence while still drawing her close to me to continue to foster attachment.

It’s confusing, especially when I am annoyed. I don’t want to be close when I’m pissy.

I’ve had to learn how to let things go and let them go quickly. That’s not my nature, but I have to for Hope’s sake.

The evening of our leaky bucket conversation, I sat her down and told her what she was going to have to do because she broke the rules.

Hope was angry. She raised her voice. I kept mine even. I explained my reasoning.

And then I dropped it.

I’d like to think I got it right, because she proceeded to spend the next two hours hanging out with me, being goofy. We laughed. We fixed dinner.

I finally had to send her off to finish her homework.

This isn’t how I was disciplined. I don’t remember wanting to hang out after getting a consequence. I don’t think my parents did anything wrong. But this is super different than what I understood it to be. It feels foreign, but not bad.

Hey, I did get my glass of wine at the end of the evening!




Time Ins

Thanks to good friend Mimi, I recently started really trying to practice time ins as a consequence for Hope’s behavior. With my recent travels and surgery, I noticed that Hope was really struggling with being separated from me. Her struggles were manifesting in crazy behavior that drove me nuts when I was home and/or lucid enough to pay attention.

Interestingly, I had missed a lot of the signs that she craved more attention. Aside from doing stupid things that garnered negative attention, she was also doing things like dragging all of her homework into the living room, spreading it all out of all over the place and just sitting with me, working on the homework. She didn’t want help, she seemed to just want to be in the same room with me.  Occasionally she’d asked me to look over an essay. Sometimes she would jokingly suggest that we watch a movie or a favorite show on Netflix. Other times she seemed to simply pick a fight just to engage me. Unfortunately,  I’ve been so overwhelmed that I just missed the point. I missed the fact that my daughter missed me, even when I was still in the house.

I was talking about this with Mimi not long ago, and she said “Hey have you thought about time ins?”

No I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about time ins.  Things have been so off the rails for the last couple of months, and all I’ve been able to manage is managing us and in an almost case-like way. Parenting hasn’t been fun; it hasn’t been fun for months. I imagine that being a kid hasn’t been fun for Hope for months either.  So I decided to give this time in thing a whirl.

We have a squabble,”Come sit next to me.”

She do something worthy of punishment: “Come let’s sit and watch a show.”

Freak out over homework?  “Hey look naked and afraid is on TV!”

Random spastic Behavior? “You know yeah Yappy loves to ride on your back; let me take video of him riding your back!”

Come here you know you want a hug; stop fighting it!

It is nice to hear my sweet Hope giggle again.  It’s nice to see her smile.  It’s nice to build a small bridge back to trust and safety.

I gotta say though it’s hard as a single parent to have so little time for solitude. When I get home from work sometimes I just want to sit and enjoy the quiet for 20 minutes or so.

That seems to be against Hope and Yappy’s religion. They don’t seem to believe in my need to take that time. This makes practicing time ins on a nearly daily basis a bit exhausting because I get very little time to just breathe.

The flip side, though, is that I see a positive change in my daughter, one that she needs probably more than my need for brief moments of solitude.  And there’s something to be said for a teenager who actually wants to hang out with her mother. As annoying as it is sometimes, I’m choosing to look at that as a positive thing because it is. It speaks to our growth and evolving attachment. That really is the best outcome: that’s what we’re striving for, to be a connected family– one that loves and trusts and one that is safe.

So time ins are where it’s at for now at Casa d’ABM.

So, anyone else using this discipline method effectively?  Is it working for you? Any suggestions? Help! 🙂

You Gone Learn Today

This evening while stealing away from Hope for a few minutes to get bottled water out of the car, I called Grammy to apologize for my tween self.   It took 4 days for this kid to break me.   Grammy howled, as she rightfully should.

I’d just come off of a ridiculous episode going to pick up movies from the Red Box for me and Hope.  We slept in this morning and headed to a late brunch where Hope ordered the grossest thing on the menu, decided that she hated it and nibbled from my plate after I took pity on her.  After brunch we both took naps, watched cartoons (none of which made any sense to me, and I’m convinced that Cartoon Network is partly responsible for the dumbing down of America) and picked out some movies to watch this evening.

She picked a movie, and I picked a movie.  Then we walked to the store together to pick up them up.  That’s when things jumped off.

“I told you to reserve Identity Thief!!  Why are we getting this movie?”  Hope was full of ATTITUDE.  Where did that come from?

“What?  We never even looked at Identity Thief.  It never even came up.  Nope, you said you wanted to see this movie (some random spring break themed movie). “

“No I didn’t.  I want the other movie. Now! Put that one back and get the other one.”  More attitude, including a neck roll, an eye roll and some base in her tween voice.

Say what now?  Day four of a nice bonding experience, and Hope has begun the adolescent tripping.  Deep in my bones, I know that the whole incident is probably a good thing: you know boundary exploration, how we respond to each other in a confrontation, all that normal parenting stuff.

But, aw, heck naw.

What you aren’t going to do is serve me all kinds of attitude, in public (or private for that matter) and think that I’m not checking for you.  It’s not about being right; it’s about understanding our roles, and how we will talk to each other, especially when we are upset.

Little girl, you fittin’ to learn today.

“You did not pick Identity Thief.  You chose this movie.  We WILL watch this movie.   I listened to you closely.  You pointed to this movie.  We clicked on it, read the description and you said, and I quote, “Yeah, let’s get that one.”  Now maybe next time we can get the other movie, provided you actually choose it during the selection process.  But let me be clear, the choices available to you will also be dependent on less attitude from you—verbal and non-verbal.  I adore you, but please don’t mistake me for a punk because I love you so much.”

Hope’s face when from shock to stone cold shut-down in about 30 seconds.   The transition to cold-shoulder sulking was swift.  I asked if she wanted to pick up dinner from the hot bar.  Mumbled no.  I asked if she wanted a Coke.  Another mumbled no.  Starbucks frappe?  Nope.   She finally, after much coaxing, settled on a juice drink, and we walked back to the hotel in silence.

I was a mixture of surprise, exasperation, and “did I go too far?”  I was reminded that this is the kind of stuff that makes you a parent.  You’ll get it right sometimes, other times you’ll stumble.  You just try and hope that you don’t screw up too badly and that your kid gets the point.  I didn’t care about the movie so much as the attitudinal response to her perceiving that she didn’t get her way.

So, that’s how I found myself in the parking lot carrying several bottles of water with my mom laughing at me from 3,000 miles away.

Shortly after I returned from my water run, Hope initiated conversation again, and we moved on like it never happened.  She asked me to help her with an origami box, and we talked about hair.  Later when she brought up again how “I” made a mistake at the Red Box, I reminded her how it really went down and declared that line of conversation closed.   She raised her eyebrows like, “For reals?” and I laid my one eyebrow raise on her with the confirmation that yeah, “For reals, conversation closed.”

We then watched the selected movie, enjoyed it and followed up by reading our book aloud until she went to bed.  I got a hug and kiss good-night and all is well in ABM’s world.  Crisis averted, for now.

I love this kid.

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