04 October 2010

discipline: no place for ice.

The discipline needs of your children change as they get older.

Collins needs to learn not to stand in his highchair and not to throw his food if he's not interested in it. Also, no matter how cute it is, after said food has been thrown, saying uh-oh or byebye to the food is inappropriate.

Eason needs to learn to control his emotions when he doesn't get his way, to act respectfully, and to obey the first time.

Ada Brooks, well, most of our discipline needs arise from the same things they've always arisen - a clash of wills - but it's not over food throwing or saying yes mam, but over what she thinks is the best choice. She's gotten to the point that she's calmly making choices - she's just not got all the wisdom with which to make them yet. And sometimes she chooses to go her own way rather than the right way. Which cannot be ignored.

(She believes that tilting her paper a certain way will make her writing better; all experts everywhere disagree. She believes that television is good for her; all experts everywhere disagree. She believes that Encyclopedia Brown counts as real literature; I believe it should be reserved for free reading time. Etc. Etc. Etc.)

Yesterday morning I had just uttered the following:

"Ada Brooks - I know you'd prefer to hold your pencil that way; I heard you the first three times; don't say it again. Holding your pencil correctly will result in more attractive penmanship. Which is the goal of 'handwriting class'.... If you don't try to hold your pencil correctly and if you continue talking back, I'm going to have to punish you. I really don't want to do that, but it's really important that you do hold it correctly. I'm not telling you to do this because I care how you hold your pencil per se - it's because I care that you have an easy time at handwriting, and everything I know says that the way you hold your pencil is actually important."

[try is the operative word there. I'd never discipline a child for failing to hold a pencil correctly - it's the fact that she actively refuses that creates the problem]

And then the phone rang. My only daughter's only godfather was calling to report and laugh with me about a caller on Mississippi Public Broadcasting's show, Relatively Speaking. The day's topic was called Smart Discipline. Yesterday afternoon, during the boys' naptime, I went back to listen to the podcast of the show, which you can do here.

So, Jim from Rolling Fork called in, and as Dan pointed out, got past the call screener. Jim said that he had solution about how to deal with fit pitching. His daddy had used it on him, and he had used it on his sons, who are now young adults.

What was his solution?

Well, the first fit they pitched, "I'd just walk over and dump that glass of asswater on their heads." It took me a minute to understand Dan when he reported it to me, and when I realized what he said, I laughed for a good long while, but later I got this miserable feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Ice Water?
For Fit Pitching?

This is a big reason why people are against corporal punishment of any kind.

Because of these (idiotic) abusers out there throwing 'asswater' in their children's faces for pitching a fit.

Granted, it might work. I bet if I did this, Eason would think twice about throwing a fit. But you know what else he would think? Who is this crazy lady?

And do you know what he wouldn't understand? Boundaries, obedience, respect, nurture, love, kindness, calmness.

So, my parenting opinion of the day boils down to this:

Don't throw ice water on your kids. Since, apparently, it needs to be said. Ice water throwing can never be done with a calm, kind, explanatory attitude. I mean...maybe it's like eating just one Pringle... it can be done, but I bet it won't, so let's not risk it.

I mean...maybe I should just throw ice water on my six year old for willful incorrect pencil grippage, but, if I were a bettin' woman, I'd lay money it wouldn't end well.

But, I don't know... it's something to consider... =)


  1. Well, I will say that a woman I worked with reported that she had once been throwing a temper tantrum (as she was wont to do). It turned into an approximately one-hour-long temper tantrum and had dissolved to the point that she was lying in the floor flinging her hands and feet screaming, "Just give me my way! Just give me my way!" And her grandmother finally ended the hour-long standoff by walking over, standing in front of her calmly, and then dumping a big cold glass of ice water on her. She says it shocked her into stopping her ridiculousness. And then she turned into a Sunday School teacher. Perhaps there's a lesson in there, ALEF. . .

  2. When I was in middle school I never wanted to get out of bed in the morning. I would tell my father that I was awake and then roll over and wait until he discovered me later...as in, ten minutes before we had to leave for school later. He took to waking me up once, and if I didn't get up within ten minutes, he'd walk in and start counting, "5, 4, 3, 2...." The first time he did it I didn't even open my eyes, so the cupful of water poured on my head was quite a shock! It only happened that once, but he stood over me with cups of water on many a morning as I scrambled to get out of bed before "1!" Not quite the same, I know, but it was an effective method to counter my lack of respect for the rest of the family and our timetable in the mornings. Makes me smile now. :-)

  3. I think that these are two examples of appropriate times to use this. I should have qualified better.

    An hour long fit needs to be stopped. Or even a 20 minute fit. Period.

    Lindsay - I agree that as a middle schooler this was a very effective method, one I know my parents employed with my little brother, and one I'll happily employ.

    The thing to which I object is that icewater is the PLAN to deal with a small child's brief, normal fits. If there is something going on for an hour, you've entered a new phase of dealing with something - or if you're dealing with a sleeping teenager.

    I'm thinking of my three year old pitching a fit because I won't get him ice cream - these fits last 1-2 minutes at most, and are disciplined, discussed and calmly put away - If I instead used ice water - yes, it might take me less time and energy, but like I said, it would not be teaching calm, quiet obedience, but rash, cold cruelty. We want the kids to be afraid of consequences, but not of us.