When kids outnumber parents at home, the hope of disciplining quietly goes out the window - at least that's how Holly Waligora feels. The Holly's House blogger dishes about what it's like raising the diverse, rowdy cast of characters in her home. While Waligora says she understands the importance of consistency, sometimes kids misbehaving is just downright funny. Here, Waligora reveals how farting at the table took on a whole new meaning, and why she thinks you should always learn your kids' "currency" when it comes to effective discipline.
Tell us about your family.
Blake is 7 ½ and the typical first-born son: self-assured and pretty cocky, very bossy, but loving towards the younger ones. Jack is 6, and we jokingly refer to him as our weird kid. He crawls into bed with me every night and snuggles because he has Middle Child Syndrome. My first daughter, Hope, is 4 and is bent on destroying me. She poops in the wastebasket, smears toothpaste on the walls, whatever she can think of to make me crazy. Brooke is the baby of the family...she's 2 now and the baby we didn't know we wanted. When I was 23 weeks pregnant we found out she had Down Syndrome and almost chose to not have her. Now Brooke rules over her siblings. She's sassy and wants her way all the time!
What is your general theory on disciplining kids?
Luckily with my kids, the threat works well enough that I don't have to do any serious disciplining too often. Whether they remember the last spank or the last grounding to the room or no Wii, it sticks.
Do you think each kid responds differently to discipline? And if so, do you tailor it differently for different kids?
Jack is the most sensitive of all the kids, but I don't treat him differently when I discipline. If you do something wrong you have to pay the consequences. Afterwards it takes a little bit more coddling to let him know that even though I'm sad with what he's done, I still love him and nothing will change that.
What is the funniest thing that has ever happened while trying to discipline your kids?
One day I was yelling at the boys about farting at the table while we eat dinner and then I let out huge one myself...oops.
What is some advice you would give to moms so they don't make a similar mistake to one you have made?
The same punishment doesn't work for every child. One kid may loathe time outs but another could care less about them. That kid may need a toy taken away or extra chores.
Can you tell us about any advice you've received on disciplining your kids (wanted or unwanted)?
I was at the mall and my oldest daughter wanted a pretzel from the stand, but I didn't have any cash. I just stood there and watched her throw a fit for a few minutes (because I'm not going to give her the attention she desires at that time) when an old lady came up and told me to just buy it for her and I was doing the wrong thing by letting her throw her a fit.
Where do you stand on yelling?
I'm a yeller. I'm not happy to admit it, but it just seems like our house is so flipping loud that yelling is the only way the kids can hear me. But because I yell so much it really has no effect anymore. When I ask the kids to do something in my regular voice I get a much better response...I'm working on this.
How do you handle a situation where you are trying to discipline your kids and they just won't cooperate?
My kids have a hard time staying in time out, so I had to find their currency and use that as punishment. My oldest daughter gets super upset if I take away her princess castle, my boys with their Legos and DS's. Now I just have to threaten to take those items and they will sit for the amount of time I ask.
Your kids start misbehaving in public - what's your move?
If one of them is having a tantrum I let them go for it. I'll stand a foot away and let them wail on the floor. Once that kid sees that I'm not going to give them extra attention for throwing a fit they stop. The only time I'll remove them is if we're at a restaurant or someplace like that.
What is your best tip for moms who are having trouble disciplining their kids?
You really just have to be consistent. I know it's hard and that's what everyone says, but if you keep giving in the kids will learn that after 10 or 15 or 45 minutes, mom will eventually give in so just throw a fit for that long.
How do you and your spouse work as a team when it comes to discipline?
I'm the primary, but only because I'm home during the day, but I have been known to pull out the old "wait until you're father gets home" shtick. We are very careful not to contradict each other in front of the kids.
What are some important things to remember when disciplining a child?
If you're really angry, go take a time out yourself. There have been times (like when Hope deliberately smushed blueberries into the freshly cleaned carpet) when I've told one of mine that Mommy needs to have some quiet time in the bedroom because I'm very upset. Better safe than sorry....
Holly Waligora is a stay-at-home-mom of four. Her blog Holly's House (Not a Perfect Mom's blog) depicts a life where her and her husband, Eric, are outnumbered by kids and explores being parents of a child with Down Syndrome. You can find Holly on Twitter and Facebook.Read what works for other moms in the Care.com Interview Series: The Discipline Mistakes I've Made »