Friday, May 28, 2010

I don't accept "Boys will be boys"

as an excuse for bad behavior. Sure boys are more likely to be obsessed with modes of transport, super heroes and sports. More likely to run around the park, sweating for an hour straight, to climb anything that stands still for 2 seconds, and to wrestle anybody near the same size and plenty of people who are more than twice his height as well. But, we all know they don't have a corner on the "boy" behavior market just as well as we know that even boys who exhibit all these typical traits might be found wearing fairy outfits while caring for doll babies.

The problem is when they relish in their aggressive play, and even just plain aggressiveness. Particularly when "they" is the nearly 3 year old boy that sprang forth from me after his 2 sisters. Laughing when he wrestles his protesting sister to the ground, smacking at some one for each irritation, greeting Aunts and Uncles with a barrage of punches {edited to add - this was playing for him, but damn he's strong and accurate!} (though they are the rough play types & responded to this in a positive reinforcement way {and adding that they would never let him get away with this if he were doing it out of frustration or for any reason to another kid}), refusing to apologize and worst of all laughing in our faces when we reprimand him. We're getting to our wits end. Which means we lose our tempers when dealing with him. But if we walk away to collect ourselves, that leaves him free to continue to beat up on his sisters. I certainly don't want to send the message of "I've seen you, I know what you are doing and I'm ignoring it." I think to a 3 year old that's almost as good as saying "What you just did is fine." At any rate, when we return to discipline we're still facing a child who will most likely laugh, refuse to say sorry and fight time out which will take 15-20 minutes before getting 3 minutes of compliance out of him.

Sure our girls have behaved this way on occasion, but I doubt even in their combined 10 years it was as many times as their brother displayed this behavior in a month. How do you deal with the pernicious side of "boys being boys?"

*Edited to add what our current methods are. Let's say he smacked his sister because of something at breakfast AND that we didn't have the additional issue of defiance and laughter. Get down on eye level. Tell him "We do not hit people" & "Tell your sister that you're sorry you hit her" (which included the words and a hug or other gentle touch) & "Now say 'No more hitting'" -- Then he does it again later. Get down on eye level. Tell him "You hit her, we do not hit people when we are mad" then the rest followed by "If you hit again you have to go to timeout" and if he does it again, he has to apologize then go to timeout until he stays there quietly for 3 minutes. Now, the reason he gets 2 (or is it 3?) chances is that he's little and I understand that he is still working out what to do when he's angry. His 4yo sister would get 1 chance and his 6yo sister wouldn't get any - for the violation of hitting or like behavior that is. We are not a spanking family, but both of us were raised in that environment. Since the defiance and laughter incenses my husband more than it does me, I am the one who has to handle it. But regardless of who handles it - this method is not working. And frankly, by the time we get to the 3rd or 4th cycle in a day of this whole routine, it is more yelling than stern talking to.


Tracy Solomon said...

Even though I don't have boys (I have 3 girls ages 21, 17 and 10) I can see what you mean. I feel this way when people say this about "teenagers". Especially when teens say this about themselves. It is like an excuse for bad behavior and making it acceptable. I enjoyed reading your post. Reading through your past postings, I will be back:)

Tracy Solomon

ViolinMama said...

Thanks to my SIL, I have this as a pet peeve. I was even 17 years old at the time hearing this "excuse" and it annoyed me. I think I've said it in "jest" about husbands, but I really dislike when parents use this as a REAL excuse for bad behavior. I dislike it as much as when girls are simply called hormonal as if that that lets them off being mean in middle school! Or, like Tracy says above for teens, etc. I don't like when even husbands get away with things like lack of childcare for their own kids because they are "men".

Since my son only eats and sleeps and makes diapers, I have no discipline experience yet - so I can't wait to read ideas, but I know that if my girls act that way, I would make a punishment longer or more of an impact for laughing at me - no matter what. The corner, or time out, or back in the crib, or put in a room (I have yet to do this, but have friends who reversed the lock on the door and have to lock their kids in their room for a time to get through to their kids - not abusive locking, just to get their attention). I would not let the laughing go.

I know some techniques call for the parents to not have ANY emotion in their voices when dealing out discipline (123 Magic). This keeps mom and dad calmer, and the child learns they can't "get a rise" from their parents. I have not mastered this yet, but I could see myself really doing this for Val since she is my harder, tantrum kid...I've seen this on Supper Nanny as well...calm voice, and keep sticking them back in time out, the corner, their room, etc.

I hope you get good advice...I'll be reading too and filing away as my boy grows...

LindsayDianne said...

My go-to book about discipline is called "The Discipline Book" by the Sears Family Doctors (William and Martha Sears). I also enjoy their "Creative Parenting". These books may give an insight into how to deal with him. It's fully possible he just needs a different style of discipline from you in order to respond. It could be that he's seeking attention, regardless of whether it's positive or negative. It could even be something like diet, which.. for my uncle was the case.
Discipline, I feel, has been the hardest thing to deal with as a parent.

ck said...

Discipline is so hard, especially when you add friends and family into the mix who (usually don't mean to but) sometimes enable the behavior. We had HUGE issues of tantrums and back-talk with our first daughter and many of our family members would take it, which 1) shocked me and 2) made it even more difficult in the long run. For the most part I was present, so I jumped in and dealt with it. But it's hard when everyone isn't on a united front.