They're Only Young Once
A mom of four boys dishes on disciplining and some tidbits she has picked up along the way as part of the Care.com Interview Series.
As a mom of four boys between the ages of three and eleven, Raising Boys World blogger, Renee Martinez, is no stranger to the world of discipline. In a world where children easily outnumber parents, consistency is crucial to Renee. She reminds us that they are only young once, so take the time to enjoy the ride - even while they are using the yard as a toilet to see what it's like to be a dog. Renee shares her experiences with discipline and why effective communication is so extremely important in understanding why kids act out.
Tell us about your family. What are their personalities like?
They are each very different. The oldest is always working hard to be a good student, a good athlete and a helpful son. The second one down is very sweet, loves science and reading but often very challenging as he acts out most and argues with his brothers. The third one is cute, kind, very funny and incredibly independent. The baby is a cuddle bug. He whines more than I remember the others at his age but his adorable ways make it easy to live with his whines.
What is your general theory on disciplining kids?
I think parents need to maintain consistency in whatever discipline style they choose...that's the most important. My theory is: I speak to my child with respect and explain to them clearly and honestly. If I say I'm removing a toy or we are leaving a party if the negative behavior continues... I really do. My kids know that there are consequences for their actions- good and bad. I reward them for good choices too so that they don't just get negative attention from me. I feel that discipline can begin around 2ish - or when you know you're child understands your rules and consequences. At a young age, I subscribe to removing the child from the situation and redirecting their attention (as well as an occasional time out). I think it's important to recognize the difference between naughty behavior and a sleepy, hungry, child who's acting out. The more you communicate with your child, the better you'll understand one another.
Do you think each kid responds differently to discipline?
Yes, very little works with my second son - therefore I have little to negotiate with him. It's very challenging. [You have to] know your child to identify and hone in on the best options.
What is the funniest thing that has ever happened while trying to discipline your kids?
Some of the comments just make me have to turn away and laugh, like when my 3-year-old told me, "No Mommy, you're a bad girl for yelling at me!"
What is the funniest thing your kids have done to deserve discipline? Even if it was so funny you hated to do it!
[They] pooped in the backyard to see what it was like to poop like a dog on our grass.
Describe a hard lesson you have learned while disciplining your children.
Sometimes a spanking works - and sometimes yelling at the top of my lungs gets their attention, but it breaks my heart to know that these actions hurt both of us.
Where do you stand on yelling - works, doesn't work, can't help it sometimes?
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I engage in an active round of yelling at least 1 morning per week. I don't like it but sometimes it just happens.
Have you ever run into a situation where you are trying to discipline your kids and they just won't cooperate? How do you handle that?
Yes, I find that when it doesn't work, there's usually something underlying - like the child might be really tired. When that happens, I usually tell him that he seems really tired and that a "thinking and resting break" in his room is necessary for a bit. When they go, they usually start out reading and eventually take a brief nap -- or if they don't end up napping, when they reappear, they do behave better.
Your kids start misbehaving in public - what's your move?
A stern talk in a private place - if they continue, we leave.
What is your best tip for moms who are having trouble disciplining their kids?
They are usually acting out for a reason - you need to identify why. Is it seeking attention? Is it truly a behavioral issue? Be patient, don't assume and help them to understand what you want by effectively communicating to your child and listening to what he or she shares with you too.
What is some advice you would give to moms so they don't make a similar mistake to one you have made?
Remember that they are only young once. These younger years are very challenging and trying on your patience. Sometimes you feel alone and you wish they would grow up, but as they begin to grow up, you'll realize you missed some of the fun enjoying them because you let yourself get stressed when you should have just tried to relax.
Life is short - you only have one shot with each child at being a good parent. They need you to be an example, a shoulder for support and to love them 100%. They don't need you to be their friend - but rather to be friendly and loving.
Renee is a mother of four boys and Raising Boys World blogger, an online community and resource for parents raising boys. Renee's Blog and Raising Boys World aims to provide feedback on how to raise your sons into fantastic men, for those who need help as well as for people who really want a community of people with similar experiences! You can find Renee on Twitter and Facebook.
Find other discipline tips and tricks in the Care.com Interview Series: The Discipline Mistakes I've Made »
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