Passionate About the Rock County, WI
and the Moms Who Live Here

Discipline and The Struggle with Follow Through

We all know that parenting is nothing but a constant learning curve. We are all just trying to figure out which parenting method works best for us and our child (and I say child because we also know that what may work for one of your children doesn’t always work with the others). Lately I have been dealing with a parenting struggle that has been more than difficult. It has been a learning process as I go through it. The Struggle…Discipline and Follow Through.
My biggest discipline/follow through struggle has been with my oldest, Kadin. Probably because he is the first. The one I am going through everything with for the first time. But I am also finding that along the way, he also hasn’t been like the average child when it comes to discipline.
My struggle with Kadin and discipline is that it has never really had any effect or impact on him. Around the time that he was in first grade we started to go the opposite direction with him and did rewards instead of punishment. This was a huge success. It was like a flip of a switch and we had finally found something that worked. He was driven by rewards. As time continued on we started to veer away from rewards and went back to punishments. We felt that he was too old to be rewarded for the things that he wasn’t doing, and he knew enough that there were consequences for actions.
Don’t get me wrong, Kadin is not a bad kid. It wasn’t so much a behavior issue that we were dealing with but issues regarding school choices (not doing homework, turning in homework, and or studying for tests). To make a long story short, Kadin had a teacher that really turned him off to school. Kadin really enjoyed school and everything that went along with it. After that year though he was burnt out. Overloaded with school work and homework that really we felt as parents should have been done with the teacher at school. We could slowly see his love and desire for doing well in school slipping away. This was heartbreaking.
Now here we were 3 years later still struggling with the same issues, and here I am still struggling with discipline and consequences for the choices that he makes. I needed help and direction.
We decided to reach out and return to his counselor that he saw for his ADHD. At this point, as mentioned, we were using consequences to look to turn around his school behavior. Unfortunately, we ended up not liking what punishments we had given him or we thought they were too harsh and we would change our mind. It started out with taking hockey away if he wasn’t getting good grades. Well that didn’t work because hockey was his out or escape from his ADHD. It was a release for him. His counselor agreed. Then came the big 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. We really thought that this would be a big driver for him. Who wants to stay back at school while all your classmates get to go on a trip? What we didn’t think about was what if he didn’t succeed. Would we be able to follow through with it?
This is a trip that is a reward but also in our eyes something you earn after your 3 years in middle school. A trip that he would never forget! Who wants their kid to miss out on that? Our deal with Kadin was that he was to get all passing grades in his classes, or he doesn’t get to go. Kadin failed 2 of his classes. We then decided to give him another shot and told him that if he got all A’s and B’s that he could redeem himself and still go. He proceeded to fail 2 classes again (and his other classes were no where near impressive). Now what do we do?
Well obviously we need to follow through, right? That is all that we could think. We hadn’t followed through on anything BIG. He had other things like his phone taken away, no PlayStation, no fun time with friends, etc. He did have some consequences that we followed through on, but they were small. So, we took this to his counselor as well. Her recommendation was to not tie the trip to school. She said in the end it is our decision, but that was her opinion. We continued to go back and forth with this decision. We also proceeded to talk to his teacher about this issue as well. We were looking for any insight that we could get. Her recommendation was to follow through, but in the end it was our decision. This didn’t help us get anywhere, but she did have an insightful idea for us. She suggested to us to not give a consequence until after the action. She explained, this way you don’t have to take back something that you feel wasn’t fair or that you think you won’t follow through on. Just make it be known that there will be a consequence for the action if that is what they chose to do. This was like a light bulb going off in our heads. Brilliant! And all we could think was how did we not figure this out ourselves?? Sometimes you are so in the moment with your children that you are caught in the fog and can’t see the light. Hence the whole reason why we were reaching out to others outside of our immediate box.
Now just a couple weeks before his trip to Washington D.C. and we were still undecided on what to do. We really wanted him to have the experience of this trip. We knew what he would be missing out on, but he had no idea. After many nights of debating this, we decided that he would go BUT with a stipulation, he needed to pay for the trip himself. He raised most of the funds prior to the trip with fundraising but still had a remainder to pay. We spoke with Kadin and asked him if he felt this was a fair compromise. He agreed and so Kadin leaves for his trip in under a week.
As parents we of course are hoping that we made the right decision with this parenting move and won’t regret it down the road. We did learn some great valuable input going through this process though. We will take that forward with all the kids, and we hope that it will make our follow through much more doable. Punishment is hard and even though it teaches our children lessons, I think the punishment is always harder on us as the parent than the child. In fact, I don’t think….I know!

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