Thursday, September 27, 2007

Discipline

My eldest daughter had a sleepover on Saturday. The girl is a good friend from Montessori school. Her mother is as involved in her child's education as you would generally expect an "upper"-middle class parent to be when they would shell out $20K a year for two kids in private school.

An interesting choice that has prevailed in her house, until recently, has been laxity in the rules at home. I've gone over to the house to see the child standing on chairs, standing on the coffee table, sitting on the table, and walking on furniture--even the back of the couch. When I first saw the child do something like that, I would correct her--"chairs are for sitting." After visiting more frequently, I got to see her do this behavior while her mother was also in the room. She was not corrected! This has changed recently. I imagine that what seemed acceptable or bearable from a kindergartener started to be obviously inappropriate, outlandish, and out-of-control for a 3rd-grader.

I do not mean this as a put-down of the mother's parenting style. We've all made 'foresight' mistakes. We may not realize how annoying a behavior could be until the child did it all the time. Or perhaps we saw that it was affecting how they behave at other homes or in-school. We all need to decide on house-rules and how to enforce them and we often have to come at it from a hit-or-miss approach until we find out what works. I've often been in the dilemma of being unable to come up with the right consequence. Sometimes the pain of trying to change an ingrained habit and guilt for realizing we've left it go for too long can be a detriment to change at all.

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