Conversation at Daycare pickup yesterday
Director: "I wish more parents shared your view on setting limits, you are our dream parent when it comes to knowing you support what we/teachers are trying to do at PCA"
Me: "are you referring to the fact that I stated that if Ian continued to be ugly and disruptive at naptime that I am fine with his teachers reminding him what would happen at home"
Director: "yes, the co-director and I commented that you don't often hear the phrase, you are going to be spanked from today's parents. We (now referring to his teachers as well) have commented that with spanking being a parental taboo, behavior they have noticed a slide in overall behavior and kids not parents setting the tone at home."
Me: "yes, in the thirteen years I've been teaching it is almost night to day to what I see and hear in my own classroom with older kids. I don't think we are doing kids favors but not holding them accountable to a high standard or for playing the my child didn't/wouldn't card. What they learn at three is how they act at thirteen."
Before anyone gets on the judgy judgement train that spanking leads kids to have lower self esteem (I agree), teaches them to fear (I agree), teaches that hitting and violence is a means to an end (I agree), unless you punish right then and there it is pointless (I agree), just hear me out. I agree to all criticisms on some level. I have come to a place in parenting where spanking,selectively used, has a place and when used I hope is effective.
I have mentioned before that Bill and I were raised in drastically different homes on the ground of discipline. Finding middle ground, setting expectations, setting rules, and how we follow through is an ever present source of communication and conflict between us. Bill and I have agreed that spanking needs to be reserved for 1. times when he is endangering his life, i.e running away in a parking lot, 2. Causing such a disruption that normal tactics of time out, removal from the situation, loss of toys/activity are not working after repeated attempts, usually over multiple days.
The 2nd is a slippery slope as at what point does Ian's continued pushing it constitute a spanking. Is a pop on the arm equivalent to a pop on a butt? What about an old fashioned blistering spanking? At what point does it become loss of control on the parental part? I really struggle with where this line is defined for each child. To me there is a vast difference between being a Tiger mother who belittled and bullies her children and being a parent who sets and expects boundaries with follow through and not empty threats.
Last week Ian spent 4/5 days in the office at naptime. His teachers and directors reported that Ian was up running around and making so much noise that other kids were joining in and not sleeping. I know that with a room full of 3 year olds, even getting a short nap out of them means you have 30 minutes of much needed quiet. At school, his teachers have been drawing a colored dot at the end of the day on his hand. Ian identifies behavior with Ben's colored card (red, yellow, green) system at school. We are also doing "bear bucks" with Ian on a smaller scale. The dots have helped with lots of lying from Ian about his day, even when he tries to wipe the dot off, as he did last week leaving his face streaked with red. I usually pick up when his regular teachers have left and it's an easy way to communicate how his day has gone along with a written daily report.
Naturally if he does not sleep, the afternoon likely will be filled with time outs. The witching hours between pick up and bedtime are hair-pulling frustrating. I cannot tell you how many nights Bill arrives home to me frazzled and at my wits end from working a 10 hour school day, a traffic filled commute, and then a rush to get everything done with the kids before bedtime and bed.
After two days of the same report and coming home to talk about bad decisions, missing favorite toys and his one tv show after dinner the behavior continued on day 3. We took in puzzles and flap books and asked if these could be his special, naptime books. His teachers reported he looked at them and within minutes was up again being completely disruptive. They tried again and again he disregarded them. I asked the director if she would email me or call me (even pretend call) while he is in the office to scare him that I know when he is being disruptive.
On the third night I talked to him about the consequence of spanking if he spent naptime in the office the next day. As you can guess what happened on day 4, even worse behavior. I spanked him at bedtime after talking about the day and the poor choices with a huge reminder that I loved him no matter what but that he would not continue to be disruptive and ugly to his teachers. I told him that for every day he was in the office he would be spanked at home. Friday as well as yesterday have so far been better days, he napped and thus did well. The weekend was rough as he refused to sleep either day, but did stay in his room for a solid 45 minutes each day. We separated the boys to minimize fighting.
Three for Ian is proving to be just as troublesome as it was for Ben. Instead of issues surrounding refusal to poop in a potty, this is about utter defiance and pushing boundaries. Ian simply does not care when he looses toys or activities. He will laugh in your face and tell you repeatedly, "I'm not going to do ______."
I swore this would not be the road I would take, but I feel like I am out of options when he is at a certain point and needs diversion.
I'm rereading the Your 3 Year Old by L. Ames for help as this age is just tough. Thoughts/suggestions appreciated without judgement.