September 22, 2013

Time-Outs, Spanking & Other Consequences

The other night we had one of those evenings when everyone just needs to go to bed because frustrated mommy came out and it was not going well at our house. Kids were tired, momma was stressed & overwhelmed and I am not sure what dad was feeling but I know he was busy doing stuff too. I lost it when I came back upstairs after someone was again yelling for mom and when I walked up the stairs I could see Drew had closed his door almost all the way but not quit. Light was shining through the narrow opening and the problem with this was the little boys had already been asleep and were now awake after Drew had turned the lights on. I was DONE. Mommy spanked and maybe not so gently tucked Drew pack into bed. I then went into the toy room to pick up toys and I knew I had let the stress of everything going on get to me. I overreacted and was not happy with myself. Drew was fine and was almost sound asleep when I went back into his room and laid down next to him to tell him mommy was sorry. Disciplining and knowing what is the right way to discipline is so hard. They have books by the dozen saying what is the right and the wrong way to discipline. How spanking a child will have non-reversible affects. How being your child's best friend instead of their parent will make them hate you less. But I have learned over the last five years of being a parent that not all children can be disciplined the same way. 

Before becoming a parent I believed that timeouts would be our number-one-go-to form of discipline. A minute in timeout for each year of the child. This sounded easy and I knew I could follow through on it. I wasn't against spanking but was hoping not to use it. I kind of felt there was no other forms of discipline. Maybe I was naive and just hoping my kids would be great kids and they wouldn't need to be disciplined very often?

When the girls were about nine months the "no-no's" started. They became more mobile and the "no-no's" were often in regards to their safety. NO pulling on cords, NO climbing on couch, NO touching pretty things on mommy's sofa table. Then became the no's for pulling sisters hair, taking her toy or biting. My first memory of having to "discipline" the girls is when Aubrey continued to bite Natalie over and over and over. We had done the no-no game. We had tried explaining to Aubrey why we don't bite. We tried time outs and a slap to the hand but nothing was stopping her from leaving teeth marks in the arm of her sister. One day she bit Natalie hard on her back. I didn't know what I could do to get the point across to Aubrey that we do not bite. The day of the back bite I took Aubrey's arm and bit her. Not hard but enough that she understood that biting hurt.  Was I proud of myself? Absolutely not but from that day on after Aubrey's shock that mommy bit her and it hurt wore off she never bit Natalie again. Is this acceptable to all parents? No and to the psychiatrists of the world that one moment in time probably ruined my child forever. It was during this time that I realized my plan to only use timeouts was not going to work.

We also quickly learned the way we disciplined Aubrey was not the same way to effectively discipline Natalie. Aubrey has always been our tender heart. A look of disappointment is usually enough to get the point across to Aubrey that we are not happy with her actions. Now Natalie on the other hand literally laughs at you with any form of discipline. Looks mean nothing to her. Time-outs she spends fidgeting and sucking her thumb until the timer beeps. With spankings she tries to run away from you and laughs if you miss. Over time we have found that losing privileges, usually in the way of snacks or treats, affects her the most. As they have gotten older the loss of ipad time also has become a consequence of bad behavior. For Drew often getting him out of the situation is what works best. He also really dislikes saying he is sorry so for him having to do that is discipline in itself!
Isabella got her first hair cut. She looks like such a big girl here.
Some days at our house we have to discipline very little. But other days I swear we are a military boot camp and all we do is yell, take things away, and have kids and sometimes mommas) in tears. We do have very high expectations of our children and expect a lot out of them. Sometimes I think if we were a house that was a free for all we would have to do very little disciplining but that is not how it works in our house. We use a lot of 1..2..3's and the majority of the time that is enough. Mommy raising her voice is no longer taken seriously. I think the kids honestly don't hear me over themselves bickering and picking on one another if I use my normal voice. Our house is loud and when you get three kids all arguing at the same time if momma isn't louder than them no one will be hearing the "knock it off right now". I am personally working on this only because I don't like that I yell. Many times when ugly mom comes out I think of Michelle Dugger. I love watching their show on TLC because I love how their family interacts. I really don't think they only act that way in front of the cameras. When I start feeling my blood boil with kids who have burnt through every ounce of my patience I ask myself how Michelle would act. Sometimes I succeed and can totally pull of the Michelle Duggar act and other days calmly telling my kids 'we do not hit because it hurts the other persons feeling and instead of hitting we should tell them how we feel' just doesn't work. 
Guess who's up next for a haircut!

The only one out of 7 who did not get their haircut. She was kept busy with goldfish.
To the public one would think I have perfect kids. They can sit at a restaurant beautifully. They are quiet, well as quiet as kids under five can be, during mass. They say their please and thank you's. When we are out looks are enough to get my kids to act appropriate. Why do they act so well when out is a question I ask myself often because literally the minute they start buckling themselves up in the car someone has done something to the other. Their arm is touching someone's car seat. Someone is sticking their tongue out at someone else. How did we go from the Brady Bunch to this family so quickly? I don't get it but I am trying so hard to be the same mom I am out in public and the same one that is found inside the car and in our home. Its a work in progress people. The world was created in 7 days and its going to take even longer for this momma to become Michelle Duggar. 

So during the last five years I hate to admit but we have had to change our plan of only using timeouts for discipline. We do use them but not as often as I thought we would. We do spank and sometimes too hard because my hand stings afterwards. We speak loudly and sometimes I am sure the neighbors can hear us even with the windows closed. We take away consequences. We send kids to bed without bedtime stories. Can you find literature out there that tells me why each of these is wrong? Yes I am sure you can and that is the reason I am trying to do better but I also know that when my children go out or are without their mom and dad they do know how to act because we have rules and expectations of them and they know there are consequences when these are not followed or met.
Aubrey was 'Star of the Week' last week and she was so excited and took her job as leader very seriously.
I often think my kids must be so happy on the days mom has to go to work because I some days feel all I do is yell at my kids for this or that all day long.  But it is the opposite, three older ones complain everyday when I have to go to work and I question them asking why they want me home with them because of this all day disciplining. Their response is "you don't yell mommy." So just maybe I am harder on myself and this feeling of constant raised voice is seen differently by my children. When I think about it I know for a fact that my parents had these same expectations of me when I was a kid and I know that I did not always follow them. When this happened there was discipline but for the life of me I can not remember what methods my parents used. I know we were spanked but I don't remember a time. I know I was yelled at but can't recall a specific incidence. I know I was grounded but from what I have no clue. Maybe discipline is not a bad thing as it makes us learn that if one displays poor behavior, attitude or effort their will be actions that are not to our liking. 
He loves having time as the 'oldest' when the girls are at school. He also enjoys getting to do things he normally doesn't get to do such as play with sisters' tea sets.
Disciplining is still hard but I know it has to take place. We become better people knowing their are boundaries. I will be my kids parent first and then their friend. There will be times I am not liked by my children but I am okay with that. How do you discipline your children or plan to? Were these the same discipline actions that were used in your childhood home?  

 photo krista.jpg


  1. Wow, I really enjoyed you post. My children are grown and it just brought back so many memories.....some I had thought about over the weekend. See my oldest son and DIL, and youngest grandson just moved to Ohio and I miss him (them) so very much. We had him at a young age, I was 21 my husband was 25, so I felt like kinda was flying by the seat of my pants most of the time with him. We too knew we wanted the manners, respect for elders, and going to church and with all three they learned all of these. But oh the discipline....what a challenge. We did the spankings....I don't think our daughter got as many spankings as the boys but it didn't take a spanking to get her attention where it did the boys....not abusive spankings but, well, you know where you go back to them afterwards and talk about what happened and why it happened. We always went back and talked through it after a spanking......I know my brothers and I got spankings but we turned out great! We were also grounded....not only were my parents my discilinaries, but my grandfather lived with us and he was also.....well not nearly like my parents, he probably let us get by with more. But anyway, my children are wonderful adults and parents themselves and now I see them doing the disciplining....sometimes I want to step in and say, that's ok, she can do this or that, but knowing I wouldn't actually let them have done the same thing, so I just sit back and watch....they are all doing such a good job! One day you will be doing the same....your children are going to be excellent young adults and adults because they have parents who care and are teaching but corrective actions and by example. Thank you for sharing and I'm sorry I have been rambling I said it really hit my this weekend, I just miss having my children around.....but love having grandchildren!

  2. I can TOTALLY relate to this post!! Thank you so much for sharing :-)

  3. Great post, Krista! It's so easy for people to think they have the "right answer" to anything having to do with parenting. The truth is, every situation is different and like you said - what works with one child can have no affect on another. Your brood is lucky to have you - a lot of people don't give a thought to how they discipline - they just do it unconsciously.

  4. I agree with you that there is no right way to punish a child and that each family is different in their beliefs when it comes to the subject. As long as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse is not being involved then I do not judge and I like to remain out of the discussion/debate as to what is right and what is wrong. Personally, do I spank my kids? No. But do I give them verbal warnings, take away privileges and toys, and enforce timeouts? Yes, yes, yes! I just- and this is personally, 100% just me- do not like hitting, grabbing, biting, etc. as a way to deal with my children's misbehavior's. I have seven children and had them all within a short period of time like you (five years), so I did not make this decision gradually. Pretty much when my eldest began acting out and testing boundaries is when my husband and I sat down and devised a game plan. And it is a plan that works for us. But, I have four sisters of my own and four brother-in-laws and each of them makes the decision as to what is right with their spouse... I do not judge, I do not get involved. If it works for you, great.

  5. Now I have the context for your comment on my blog about Parenting, Religion, & Politics. Discipline is so difficult! I'd like to think we won't spank, but I promise I'll never say "Never" because I don't know what each of our children will need. We are in the midst of quaddlerhood and already I see my children willfully disobeying me. I'm sure there are 1000 articles explaining why spanking will cause irreparable damage to your children, but there are 1000 more saying it is perfectly fine. Do what works for you! =) In fact, I see you do what works for each of your seven individually. They are siblings with the same parents, but don't respond to the same techniques.
    I appreciate your efforts to always do your best, and I think you, like all moms are very hard on yourself. Parenting is not easy at all, especially with a large family and multiples. You are doing a wonderful job.

  6. Thanks for your honesty. I can't imagine hitting/spanking my children, and I never have, never will, but I realize/respect others do things differently. It's obvious you are an excellent parent. But the fact that you admit that your hand stings (!!!) after you've spanked/hit that hard...that seems like something is not right. And it really does sound like you are unhappy when that happens, too. I know you've said you and your husband do all the childcare yourselves, but I just wonder whether you need more help/support so that you get some time for yourself and maybe some time to refresh/regroup so that you can manage your frustration a little better? I'm sorry, but that comment about your hand stinging after spanking upset me.

  7. There are other ways to discipline besides by punishing. Take the time to look into it and your whole family could be more peaceful and happy. You wouldn't have that feeling of regret either.

  8. Your post could have been written by me. Actually, it's kind of scary how much it sounds like me, haha! I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels like all I do some days is yell and have very little patience.

  9. 1) Michelle didn't have multiples (well, she does have one set of twins), so her family grew one at a time ... yes, very quickly one at a time, but still one at a time! More time to adapt and absorb new kids into routines and discipline!

    2) If your kids insist that you don't yell all the time, then believe them, because they would NOT sugar coat it for you!

    3) I kind of love that you bit her... You obviously didn't scar her for life, and she stopped biting. I don't think that's a strategy that someone would sit down and be like "okay, if my kid bites me I will bite her back" but it happened, and it worked, and although it might not be your proudest moment it certainly isn't the worst that could have happened.

    I don't know that I have commented before but I've been following you for a while and I definitely look up to you and your parenting! I have just the 2 right now (twins) but I admire you and your seven under 5!

  10. I normally don't reply but the anonymous comments anger me!! I raised 4 children, now adults and they aren't screwed up from my spankings, yelling and bites when they bit someone. Everyone has there own style and like Krista said, sometimes it happens. Paul and Krista are great parents, maybe overwhelmed but they don't need support groups, maybe a date night, I'll babysit!! But maybe that's why it's "anonymous", cowardly and imperfect like the rest of us!!

  11. Most amazingly honest post thank u please ignore the mean snarky comments as moms if we were more honest and supportive of each other it would be awesome


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