Yes, I use this as a punishment….(get the pitchforks out!)
At the end of a very long day hustling around as all moms do, there’s one thing I use as a punishment when shit goes south and you know there’s no way out of it. Bedtime. If the clock is past 6 pm (ok, 5:45 on some nights) and my son is just not capable of being anything other than a complete jerk: off to bed with ya!
I’ve struggled with this for several reasons. 1) I hate the fact that I’m putting him to bed under those messy circumstances. 2) No, I don’t want him to associate sleep and bedtime which should be relaxing and peaceful with punishment and anxiety. 3) Who wants to go to sleep sad and cranky.
But hell, sometimes nothing else has worked in trying to wrangle in that awful behaviour. It started more being used as a ‘punishment’ this summer…I distinctly remember the circumstance. He was throwing his food. I HATE when kids throw food. It’s the biggest slap in the face to anyone who doesn’t have enough. That and my fragile ego gets so shattered when the meal I actually was able to scrounge up gets tossed around. The specific words I used were: ‘if you throw your nugget again, you will have to go to bed because that’s very rude’….that along with repeating the threat 10 times. I didn’t yell and I didn’t react impulsively. The intention was to begin a dialogue about cause and effect. If you do this, this is what happens. If you do this, you don’t get to continue having fun with your night, you have to be on your own.
I reconciled that as long as I didn’t do it with emotion or anger but with communication and a matter of fact inevitability to it I would hopefully thwart the negative association. Nope, he hates it, and he hates bedtime for about 3 minutes. Know what else? He knows that when we threaten the consequences of bad behaviour that we WILL follow through. This has helped tremendously, that and trying to redirect his focus quickly and seamlessly…..hey look, you took a dump on the floor, good for you buddy! Pick your battles, right?