We had an issue with our oldest recently. There were some behaviors we were working on and we had repeated our expectations enough that he knew what was expected. Yet, the same bad behaviors continued. Our oldest, as many of you know, has aspergers and ADHD. Discipline can be tricky at times. He is very stubborn:). Finally an idea came to me. There are certain things that we as parents must provide for our kids. Food, clothing, an education, love, and (for us) a strong Biblical based education is our top priority. However, we are not required to make sure our kids are entertained 24/7 with “stuff”. So if he cannot comply, then drastic behaviors will result in drastic discipline. So what did we do?
We decided that everything in his room would be packed up and we would “tomato stake” him. Everything that was in his room (except his clothing) was boxed up or packed away into a locking cabinet or the garage. He was left with his Bible and his AWANA book in his room. We also decided that he could sit and be bored for a time until we felt he was ready to earn back privileges, a little at a time. Signs that he was ready to earn back stuff meant that he was working hard during school time, doing his chores, and working on his attitude. He was free anytime we were not doing school to read his Bible and work on his AWANA.
I know this sounds harsh and tough, but he was almost 10 at the time. After talking and praying, my husband and I felt we needed to be drastic to get his attention NOW, before things got worse as he got older. Believe me, we have tried a lot of things over the years and because he has aspergers, things will either not work at all OR they work for a short period of time until he gets tired of trying.
For about two weeks he was bored, and I mean really bored, but I could see God working. Sometime into the second week I started assigning him books he could read for set times outside of our school time. I didn’t want to fill all his “free time” with something yet, but wanted to give him just enough to show him that if he keeps working diligently, this will benefit him!
After another week or so of this course of action, things were going better and he earned some iPad time. He also started getting times to get out Legos, puzzles, etc. I know that some of this really sounds extreme for a 10 year old, but something drastic had to be done to grab his attention. As an Aspie, he can either be very mature, or very immature.
I can see that during this process some things have for sure changed. I don’t regret taking drastic steps because as his parents, my husband and I are not just called to be our kids’ friends, we are called to disciple them-to teach and train them in how they should go. Sometimes real love is tough love. Sometimes it really does hurt us parents to have to go to such lengths. Believe me, I cried when his books were packed away. I LOVE books and feel all kids should have a ready supply. However, I love him more than books and his heart is more important.
Now that we have gone through the roughest part of “operation tough love,” I have a new program I am going to introduce and see how he does having all his things back (with limits on electronics of course!), and us trusting him again. I am thrilled to be able to try out Character Badges from The Modest Mom! This program helps with accountability. There are charts to keep all of us on track AND it has a reward system that you can put into place as well! This reward system is totally different than one we have used before, so I am excited to start this and then come back and tell you all how it works!
What have you found that works in your home? I wold love to hear from you!