discipline with a (tiring weak little) "d"

I don't really want to post this, but I need help, so I might as well be honest. (And bear with me . . . I'm adding this in later after I see how long this ends up being. Obviously this means I needed to "talk"!)

Ever since Neil got home from being gone, Noah has been acting out big time. I'm not sure what it is, but it's seriously bringing me over the edge. He was so so so good for me the past two weeks. Now I am wondering what happened.

Perfect scenario:

This morning I was sitting at my computer, the kids were being quite good playing together. I say to Noah, "hey, let's go to the mall and buy you some new clothes for school!". He says "Ok-aaaay!!!", really excitedly. I said, "You must be good for mommy. Maia needs to hold your hand. Make sure she stays close. If you guys are good, we'll get some art supplies for home and maybe we'll stop by the cookie store". He says to me, "Okay, mom!" (He's suddenly only calling me mom. Not mommy, but mom. I hate it. I'm not ready for that yet!)

So he's sooooo good on the way to town. We hold hands going into the mall. We get to the store and he starts running around. Of course Maia follows every single thing Noah does, so then I have two on the loose in a big store. We just leave. He gives me no choice.

I'm not making our 20-minute drive to town a total waste. So we try again! This time we head to Baby Gap to check their sales.

It's not a large store, but still, he goes straight for the clothes racks and run through them, stands on things he's not suppose to, etc., etc. (Okay, seriously, he is not acting like a maniac child or anything but he does not listen to my rules, and at the age of almost 4, where he's starting pre-school, he needs to follow the rules, don't you think?) Little Miss Copycat does the same thing. She will NOT behave well if he doesn't. I stress over and over how he needs to set a good example for her. How she needs him to teach her how to be a good boy. (Sometimes he's for that, sometimes not.)

Am I doing/saying something wrong because THIS TACTIC IS NOT WORKING!?

While in Baby Gap, I don't ignore him, even though I'd like to pretend like he and Maia are not my children, but I grab him, tell him he gets one more chance and if he continues acting like that, we're leaving. "You get nothing for behaving like this", I said. He said "okay". (It must be too much to ask for your almost 4-year old to stand by you! Or is it? I don't know. Someone tell me!) But then 10 seconds later, he's off again and then so is Maia. So we leave.

I grab Maia, we walk out. Noah follows way behind. I am so angry I just want to cry. At this point he is crying. People are staring at him and at me like I'm the worst parent on the face of this Earth because I am letting my kid walk 5 yards behind me sobbing. Well, what am I suppose to do?!?!

We had a similar experience twice this past weekend. Noah finally met the neighbor boys. There are 3 of them, ages 22 months, 4 and 5. He was playing with them for probably 2 hours. It was time to come home. He didn't want to. Neil asked him to nicely, and he refused. So Neil picked him up and brought him home literally kicking and screaming. He kept trying to get out of the house for about 5 minutes until he was too worn out to try anymore. He finally calmed down and we explained to him that when we ask him to come home, it's time to come home. That the neighbor boys need to eat dinner and so do we. The only thing Noah could think about the rest of the night were his new "friends". I know he probably was just really excited, and I understand that. But he can be excited and happy yet still follow mommy and daddy's requests and rules, right? Disappointingly, the same thing happened the next day also.

This time Neil said he had 5 more minutes to play, then he had to come home for dinner. He didn't say anything but we knew he heard us. 5 minutes, actually 10 minutes later, we told him he had to come home, and again, he refused. After about 30 minutes of crying and pouting and saying we were "mean", we told him he could not see his friends then on Sunday. We took his two favorite things away the rest of the night. Obviously these ways were/are not working! Or are they? I don't feel that they are.

So today, I get home and pull out the Dr. Sears Discipline Book. I'm so so so afraid I'm doing something wrong as a mommy. My biggest fear is that whatever I'm doing is going to hurt him in some way or affect him for the rest of his life. Part of me feels I'm doing right, and the other feels like I'm all lost and turned around. What do you do?

I need help. And I'm not embarrassed to say I need help. I'd rather admit I need it and nip this in the bud now rather than later or never at all. And maybe it's not a problem. Maybe this is normal. Maybe it's not. Heck, what is normal??? Is there a normal?

He starts school Friday. I don't want to be one of those parents who gets a call from the teacher. And, the teeny tiny feeling of positive-thinking I have inside me says that maybe he'll be fine. He's normally very very good. But, on the other hand, I guess this is just all part of being a parent and learning more about ourselves, our children and about life. But it sucks. I need some advice from my well-traveled wise mothering friends and followers. Please?


Alexis Jacobs said...

If you are a bad parent then so am I. What Noah did all my kids have done before... it is called kids being kids. What you need to do is be firm in their punishment and let them know who is the boss.

You honestly aren't doing anything wrong. Noah is still young and as long as you are being consistent he will learn.

Hang in there ((hugs))

it's me, Val said...

I'm trying very hard on consistency and I think I am, but then I see other people look at me like I'm doing something wrong and that's when I question myself. I hate those looks like "can you believe that kid?" or "can you believe that mom?".

Alexis Jacobs said...

Seriously Val if I had a penny for all the times I have had that look I'd be a rich woman. Have you met Sam? :)

You are an awesome mommy. Don't ever think otherwise.

oh amanda said...

Val, you are a good mom! Moms who don't care or say, "isn't that cute" are the ones who have out of control kids. And yeah, kids are kids. HOWEVER, he's a kid that needs parents to mold him into the kid God wants him to be.

I don't have any specific advice. I have no idea what I'd do if Lydia acted like that. I just know that Lydia's discipline is not about me looking good or her acting good. It's about her growing up to respect God and to love Him. I want her to respect me so that she'll respect my relationship with God and want to follow that relationship. Does that make sense? I'm rambling.

Like I said, no advice. Just (((hugs))).

Artsy Momma said...

Hey Val!

I dont have a lot of advice with Leila still being too young for discipline. However I know that consistency is the key. Be firm, if you give him mixed messages or give him an inch, kids are smart they will take a mile. Hang in there I know you are a great mom!

lil ole' me..... said...

Oh Val, I wish I had any motherly advice to give you, but as you know, I have zero experience in the mom department.
It doesn't sound like you are doing anything wrong. From what I have seen, and what you write in your blogs, you ARE a GREAT mommy (I use mommy since you said you aren't ready for "mom"!).
I'm glad you do post these things because you are helping me prepare for things to come.... :)
Hang in there! ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

Believe me this is normal. And remember us telling you about your uncle barry. When he was 3---he was "a little devil". I think he turned out alright. And then we have your "brother"-----how quickly one forgets. You are doing just fine. And remember he must have consequences for his actions. And never, ever think you are going to do something to scar him or hurt his feelings. Just follow your instincts. You are a wonderful mother. Love, Mom

Chel said...

You're doing fine. From our experiences, Noah seems right on target. We teased when Griff was three that we would give him to the gypsies the next time they came around. And Eliza is nearly impossible nearly all the time these days (at 3). We take heart in the fact that without any warning at all, sometime after Griff turned four, he also turned into the most fun ever.

Hang in there. It does get better. Well, and worse, but that's a different story. :)

Deborah said...

it sounds to me like you are doing just fine. Three is a hard age (was much harder than the so-called 'terrible two's' for us), and N sounds like a normal kid who is testing boundaries.

It takes a lot of love, compassion, and a genuine willingness to want the very best for your children to discipline and to stick with it. It is much easier in the short run to not bother. Kids need you to teach them right from wrong, and they need to have the lessons over and over again.

The best advice I ever got regarding parenting came from my uncle, who was a practicing pediatrician for almost 50 years. He told me trends come and go with regard to how to parent, but if you follow your instincts, always act in love, and accept that you're going to make mistakes and that your kids will be just fine in spite of those mistakes, you will be the best parent you can be and your kids will thrive because of it.

Kelly said...

I was reading carefully along looking for clues, and then you said the magic words, "almost 4." My son did exactly the same thing at almost four, and it last until almost 5. I thought I had failed him miserably as a mother, but then one of his teachers gave me a book to read about raising boys. (By the way she was trying to calm me down because I thought he was a holy terror, but in her eyes he acted like all of the other 4-year-old boys in her class.)

Anyway, do you know that around 4 boys get their 1st big surge of testosterone? And that causes them to, well, assert themselves. I know this doesn't really help other than knowing the fact that all 4-year-old boys act this way. So, you can walk through the mall with your head held high while the boy wails 5 feet behind you and know that you are not alone.

heather said...

I know that I am not a mom, but I agree that it sounds like he is testing his boundaries. I also wouldn't worry about what other people are thinking. Honestly, when I am looking at moms with misbehaving kids, I want to give them a hug and tell them to hang in there. Living with Cole, I know how DIFFICULT kids can be now. The other moms are probably just thinking of being in your position at some point in their lives. You are a great mom, Val. I haven't seen a perfect kid yet, who didn't act wild at some point. Although I don't remember what I was like at that age....I'm sure I was perfect. ha ha
Just continue being consistent and I'm sure he'll realize who is really the "boss".

Christy said...

Can I just give you a big heartfelt, I SHARE YOUR PAIN! I have been having tons of trouble with Luke acting out since his dad deployed. Mostly it's at bedtime, which used to so easy with him, but now he is up for at least 2 hours every night screaming for different things.

One of the things I have thought that I need to work on are giving him only one chance/warning and then an immediate consequence. I warn way too many times!

{hugs}! You won't ruin him as long as you love him and pray for him.

Erin said...

It's funny, I went through the same EXACT scenario yesterday. I was at a building supply store with the girls trying to talk to someone in the flooring department and Ella was running around and Aidan was following her. I told Ella to stay by me so that Aidan would stay by me and she didn't listen. This happened a couple of times and then on the way out of the store they were like "Mom, you said we could have a treat after you were done!" and I'm like "Um, NOT!!"

So as you can see, according to me and everyone else who has commented, this is normal everyday childhood behavior at this age. Three is so hard! They know the rules but won't follow them. Aahhh!!! In fact, it was so bad last year that I was also afraid to put Ella in preschool. I actually waited until the last day of school to ask the teacher how she was in school (sheepish grin). And you know what? What we teach them isn't in vain. They push the boundaries at home and if we keep enforcing them, when they are out without us, they are more likely to behave. At least he's doing this in the safety of your home with you guys. Keep up the GREAT parenting. It feels like it lasts forever, but all of a sudden there's change in the behavior (and then something else crops up, of course, LOL) and you realize you're getting through. It's tiring and frustrating and you feel like a horrible parent by the end of each day, but that's the way it is. Hard with a capital "H"! Hope you have a better day today. (((HUGS)))

MP said...

Actually that is a very NORMAL way for a 4 year old boy to act. From what I gather it is different for every boy...for my step son the thing that works well is a schedule..and sticking to it. So if he has a play date we tell him that the play date is over at 4:30 pm and show him where the clock is. He would still whine a bit but he knew going into it that those are the rules. Of course he's 8 now and a BIG scheduler..he knows how long he's going to play, what time bath time is..what time he goes to bed. It works for him..and us. We STILL Have melt downs, it normally happens though during the summer. Belive me, we are ready for school to start on Wednesday..getting that structure back is good!
It will work out..and yes you are normal and doing a great job!

it's me, Val said...

I just wanted to say, thank you EVERYONE, especially those of you who put so much time and energy into this topic . . . it just shows how much you care. I even received many emails and I just thank you a billion times over for making me not feel alone and not feel abnormal! :)

Michelle said...

Hey...so, I'm a little slow on the response here! But, I think that you have gotten some amazing advice! And, that you are an amazing Mommy!! Don't ever think differently!!

Consistency, is key. Follow through is also! I also think that giving kids as much information before hand is really important, such as telling them before hand what you expect of them (and what they can expect from the situation), and telling then over, and over, and over! Of course, it's not always easy. I feel like I have learned so much about kids from being teacher, and, even though I *know* what to do (or at least I would like to think I do), it's not always easy to do! And, each kid is different. And, each day is different. What may work one time, may not work so well the next! Keep on doing what you're doing and stay firm in your decisions. And, I say most of this as my experience as a teacher. Hopefully I can use my "finely tuned skills" on Ella and little Peanut! :) One day, I will be asking you...how did you do it?!


Katie said...

I agree with all of the above. And if you do ever get a call from the teacher, first, be glad that your child has a teacher who cares enough to work with you, and second, think of it as an opportunity to work with someone else who cares about your child and knows a bit about children that age! Your kids are darlings (even when they're holy terrors!) and quite normal little people, and you are a darling, too!

Jen @ One Moms World said...

I have no advice but just know we are in the same exact boat. It drives me bananas too sometimes. I feel like I have no control. The girls do this everytime we go into a clothing store. They think its so funny and I just get all stressed out.

We leave as well and then there have been times the kicking and screaming while I'm going out of the store and those people give you the worst looks. I'm like ok surely my child isn't the only one ;)

Phew.. hopefully this stage will end soon hehe.

Anonymous said...

Hi Val its me Jenn. I just got around to reading more of your post and wanted to say Hi(since I never had before)! Oh and by the way you seem like a wonderful mother! I think you made the best choice by leaving the store. It took me many years to learn about "Picking your battles" and wow you have already figured it out! Awesome you:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Val its me Jenn. I just got around to reading more of your post and wanted to say Hi(since I never had before)! Oh and by the way you seem like a wonderful mother! I think you made the best choice by leaving the store. It took me many years to learn about "Picking your battles" and wow you have already figured it out! Awesome you:)

mama2dibs said...

Normal? What is normal? I know what you mean that you almost feel guilty standing your ground. I do the same thing with Libby, but I'm getting better at letting her cry and just ignoring the looks that I get from others. Hold strong to what you believe. Discipline is a GOOD thing...despite what society tries to tell us. I know it is frustrating, but as soon as you give in to Noah, it's over, he knows he has you. Hold tight girl. Pray and read the Bible. And remember, we do the same thing to God sometimes. Love you and I'll pray for you!