Thursday, August 9, 2007
Throwing a Fit
So, a few of us from my office went to lunch the other day. And, as we were delighting in a little queso, we were stopped cold by a 4-year old mongrel who began to scream bloody murder in the middle of the restaurant. He was leaning backwards over the booth, pointing to a tray of chips or something that one of the servers was taking to another table. Now, understand when I say the kid was screaming bloody murder, I am not exaggerating. I mean, everyone in the restaurant - patrons and wait staff - immediately stopped talking and directed their collective glares at the boy...and then the mom.
This went on for about a minute, when the mom took the boy in her arms and began coddling him and telling him "it's OK, darlin'." But wait, there's more. The parents pay their check, then begin heading out to the parking lot when "little Johnnie" spots the mega-sized gumball machine near the exit. The parents have already walked out of the restaurant, and the kid is standing in the lobby throwing an absolute fit and pointing to the gumball machine. He's there for at least a minute, and again the restaurant has become deathly silent. Finally, mom rescues all of us and comes back in to fetch the tiny monster.
Initially, I felt bad for the mom...but after some thought, I was really ticked at the mom, and my sympathy really was for the kid. I bet he has never been told "no" in his life, or if he has it has never stuck. And, based on what I witnessed, he likely never had a spanking or been truly "set straight" by mom or dad. The boy is 4 years old, and the parents have already dug their graves.
Unfortunately, this is all too common. Parents are far too concerned with being their child's friend, and have very little concern with the behavioral patterns they are slowly setting in stone. It may not be that their kids have public meltdowns. There are many other ways that parents' lack of discipline for their kids is manifested.
For example, I know several parents whose kids continue to sleep in their bed until the ages of 7 and 8 years old. Many times, the spouses don't even sleep in the same bed, but mom or dad is cozied up with the kids every night. Parents try at age 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. to get their children to sleep in their own beds, and they can't do it (or, choose not to do it because it's too hard). The problem is they elected not to put the child in his own bed when he was one-month old, because they didn't like the fact that the baby cried for a while.
Here's what we did with our kids. At around 4-5 weeks old, we decided to put them in their rooms - in their beds. We knew it would be tough. And, with both of our boys, we had one night of pure "hell" in which they screamed all night. But, guess what? The next night they both went right down - without a peep! So, one night without sleep has given us years of peaceful sleep. It's a very small trade-off.
So, the key to "training" kids is to, as parents, begin to discipline them immediately when they are born. Discipline is a loving way - and God's way - to help your children develop the character and behavior they really need to thrive.