Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not Quite Done

Ok, so I have another question:

Where has the discipline gone? I am a nanny. I only have 5 rules, really its only four: 1) Follow directions, 2) Do homework, 3) No fighting, 4) Be nice, 5) Smile and be happy. I also work on a 3 strike system, 3 strikes they lose a dollar (they get a dollar every day they are 'good' and lose a dollar every day they are not). 5 strikes and I call mom, if I call mom two times before the special treat then they don't get to participate. Pretty lenient I thought.

Well, I had a pretty rough day at work yesterday and could not get in touch with Patrick and Elisabeth's mother so I handled the situation as best I could and enforced the rules and strike system. Seems okay, right? Apparently not. Here are the emails that were exchanged between the two of us.

In regards to yesterday, I am sorry I didn't call you back.  I was slammed at work and just didn't get a chance.  Bill told me something about what happened - the kids were outside & Elisabeth told you that Patrick threatened to kill himself?  I think I need to know more about this incident before I agree with your decision to take away all of his special treat privileges.

Well, I had spoken with him about it before as this is not the first time he has said it. When I made him come inside and talk to me he was angry and yelling because Elisabeth had told on him. I could not get him to settle down and do what I was asking, I had asked him to go to the corner because of his yelling and being mean to Elisabeth (saying he doesn't love her anymore and blaming her for him saying that). He called me a few names ran up stairs and said that he was going to break more of the rules. He finally calmed down and went into the corner after I had called you. However, those were not his only strikes. I had asked him if he wanted to read a book for his Six Flags Ticket and he said yes. He grabbed a book, one of the Magic Tree House books, and began to read it. I saw him skipping pages and told him I had stopped the timer until he went back to his original page. He didn't, so when I told him that I wasn't going to time him until he did he said he was done. He asked how many minutes he had read, I told him none because I wasn't sure when he first skipped a page. He got mad and threw the book at me and called me a meanie. All of this yesterday resulted in my decision to call and 'revoke' his special treat privileges.

I agree with you that Patrick had some bad behavior yesterday.  However, this is how I would like for you to handle this situation in the future:

1.  If the kids are outside, you should be outside too.  If one kid is inside & one is outside, you should spend most of your time outside & just go in to check on the one inside every 10 minutes or so.  Outside has more dangers that I worry about than inside (kidnappers, dogs, falls off bike/scooter).  If you are not with the kids & one kid reports of bad behavior by the other, you can address the issue (and should) but you can't punish him or her as strictly as you would if you heard it yourself.  You don't know the context and the kid who tattles may be leaving something out.  I'm not saying not to punish at all - but don't throw the book at them.

2.  Patrick knows that this is not something that he should say.  However, the statement is about hurting himself - not others - and should be treated differently.   I tell him that he has to go to his room & take a time-out until he can calm down.  Then when he's calm & not upset, he can go back to playing.  I do not make a big deal out of it b/c it is more about his inability to deal appropriately with his feelings.  This is a teaching moment not a punishment moment. This is something that we are asking his therapist to assist him in dealing with & recognizing why its not appropriate.

3. The Six Flags reading thing is supposed to be fun - not a contest and not something to get punished for not doing.  There is not a "right" way for a 1st grader who barely knows how to read to read a book made for 8-12 year olds.  The rules of the contest simply say that they must read something - a magazine, a book, whatever for a period of time.  There is no rule saying you can't skip pages or change your mind about reading a particular book.  If he is sitting there attempting to read - we encourage him - not punish him for not going in order or skipping words or pages.  This isn't a reading assignment for school - it is simply to get kids reading so that hopefully they will figure out that reading is fun. 

4.  He was mad when he got in trouble & said things he shouldn't out of anger.  However, he did eventually do what you asked.  He was punished with standing in the corner.  He served his punishment & his punishment is over.  He doesn't get separate punishments for each individual act in a 5-10 minute period of having bad behavior - it is all punished at the same time in the same way.  The max time his punishment should last is 7 minutes.

5.  With this all in mind, I think he should get a second chance on his privileges.  He wasn't violent and he served his punishment. 

I don't want to undermine your authority, but I think you are coming down heavy handed on some things.  You have to let some things go.  With Patrick, we know when he's off his meds & he's at home, that things are going to be a little more out-of-control.  But as long as he's not hurting others or doing anything too crazy - its ok.  We can't come down on him on every little thing - and we don't want you to either.

As a side note, I don't know why the DVD player didn't work for you - it can be temperamental.  But there's lots of other things for the kids to do that don't involve the TV - even when they are sick - like books, mad libs, games, etc.  I personally would prefer for the kids to watch very little TV - but I understand when its cold or rainy or after a long day of school, sometimes they want to veg out a little bit.   But they can always go up to their rooms & play.

I know it is close to when you have to leave - so if I don't hear back from you, I'll call you in a few minutes.

She did not give me a chance to respond to the email and called where she proceeded to tell me that they do not punish him for name calling or being mean like he was to Elisabeth. She also did not agree with my taking away of his special treat because of one phone call, apparently it is supposed to be two in one day and not over a period of time. Then she proceeded to tell me that if they decided that they did not want to do their homework they don't have to. So I don't know about you but that is so not the way things were when I was a kid. Am I the only one here?? What am I supposed to do? If I continue to work with them they will find me in a corner in the fetal position crying for my mommy. 

Ugh, hope you are had a better day than I did. 


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