Empty Threats (And Other Discipline Techniques That Never Work)

Send help. I damn near lost my mind last night. We went to the drive-in and, I swear when I say it, the bruises were the craziest kids on the block. They were SO BAD. I was straight up embarrassed – like throw-my-hands-in-the-air-and drink-a-whole-bottle-of-wine kind of embarrassed. I even accidentally butt-dialed my boss (Sorry Carrie!) mid-curse rampage because Dominic decided to act like a puppy all night. The poor, poor people who happened to have spots around us. We were THAT family.

I don’t know why the automatic preset for this video is to display it the wrong way. Need blogger help. At least when you click it, it plays the right way.

So it got me thinking about all the things we do for discipline…which never seem to work. I’ll admit, for some of them, I know why they don’t work. Others, I really don’t. I’m just trying to survive and keep my kids alive over here. And I have a two year old who doesn’t listen to a word I say. EVER. Like a puppy. I’ve compiled a list of all the discipline techniques we use, ordered most used to least used.

  1. Empty Threats. You know. “If you don’t stop wrestling you’re brother we are going home right now.” And, “Dominic. STOP. If you want to go to the lake you need to STOP. Ok you’re not going to the lake. I guess you’re staying home all by yourself.” *Whole family leaves for lake 20 minutes later.* This is one of the ones I know why it doesn’t work. Follow through. No follow through means they don’t believe a word I say.
  2. Time Out. Luca responds to time out really well! I deliver the time out and he heads right over to whatever spot I’ve designated. He sits and waits, and most of the time I forget he’s even in time out. He eventually politely asks if he can get out yet and I quickly remember he’s there. Dominic though. I deliver the time out and the little devil stares into my soul and smiles or laughs maniacally. So I deliver the time out again, this time a little sterner and a little louder. He straight up runs away, to the point where I chase him and drag him to the designated spot. If I happen to go in the other room, he’ll slither his way out or quickly find Luca to continue poking and prodding.
  3. Take away the item or toy or food in question. Usually results in immediate (crocodile fake) tears from Luca, and immediate attempted biting from Dominic (followed by tears post-bite). It seems to work for a hot second, until they find something bigger and better to be sword fighting with.
  4. Ignore completely. I believe the experts call this extinction. If you ignore something long enough the behavior supposedly happens less and less over time and eventually becomes extinct. You’re telling me the beat-each-other-up will become extinct if I do this enough? Ha. I think my kids would be dead before this happened, thus defeating the entire purpose…right? Side note, everyone knows when I ignore completely it’s because I’ve lost all energy and am waving my white flag.
  5. Tell them Santa’s watching, or tell them Elfie’s watching. Christmas. Don’t mess with Christmas. I have to say, this one DOES work if it’s close to Christmas. But when I whip it out mid-May, Luca will come back with some fresh response like, “But Mommy it’s not even winter yet.” Touche kid, touche.
  6. Mimic them. This one usually just results in a good laugh or doesn’t register with them at all. And I don’t do this one in public. I don’t think it’s a good idea to flop myself down in the toy aisle of Target and scream and cry till I get what I want. But if one of them is throwing a tantrum, have you ever tried flopping yourself down on the floor next to them and doing the exact same thing? They look at me like I have five heads and ask, “Mommy what are you doing?” They don’t even realize I’m copying them exactly. Whiney voice too – if I talk back to Luca in the same whiney voice he’s using he’ll innocently ask, “Mommy why are you talking like that?”
  7. Scream like an absolute maniac (but close the windows so the neighbors don’t hear how loud it really is). This is that last straw, I’m-gona-lose-it, are-you-ok, do-you-need-a-second kind of thing. The one where I hope and pray that the volume as well as pure and distinct rage in my voice is going to strike a chord and they GET it. Also the one I’ll never admit to anyone I actually do here and there. Usually, both boys immediately start crying – not because they feel remorse but because I scared them, and then my heart melts and I feel terrible and I run over and hug and kiss and apologize and proceed to have mom guilt for the next month and swear I’ll never do it again. Yes, I do need a second.

So I guess if you’ve figured out something that works for your toddler boys, send it my way. I’m begging you. Otherwise I think I’m just going to be a hermit and not allow my kids to leave the house ever again. Either that or I’m running away. Far, far away.

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