Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The time Brianna lost her bedroom

At risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, I want to begin this post by saying that while I love being a parent, it is hard. Like really hard. I'm pretty sure it's the hardest thing I've ever attempted, and I'm confident that I don't even know the half of it yet. There are so many intense emotions involved making it truly one of the most amazing, remarkable, incredible, extraordinary, delightful, frustrating, wearisome, trying, crazy experiences ever.

Now, before I continue, I want to say that I'm not writing this post to embarrass or shame my daughter in any way, and I'm certainly not writing this post to brag on my own parenting skills. I don't know if we handled this situation in the best way possible. I don't know that we haven't done something to potentially damage our daughter for life. What I do know is that we pray for wisdom in our parenting all the time, and that we're doing the best we can. We love our daughter beyond what words can express, and it is that love that motivates us to strive to shape her into the person God wants her to be. However, we are still learning, and we're obviously not perfect. There's ample room for improvement! This post honestly makes me feel pretty exposed, but I think Brianna may find this story interesting someday as I doubt she'll remember most of it herself.

During the month of January, Brianna went through a phase of being purposely destructive. This is something I just DO NOT get. WHY would you purposely destroy something??? It just made me so sad. Chris and I do not want to raise an ungrateful, spoiled, entitled child, and we were definitely feeling like her behaviors were displaying some of those ugly characteristics.

What could our sweet girl possibly do to make us feel this way? Well, the first thing she did was pick at the paint in her bedroom until it chipped off in two places. One was a fairly large spot. So, right in the middle of her pretty lavender wall were these ugly spots of chipped paint. 

Then, not too long after that, she messed with a metal curtain holder until it was so bent up and mangled that we had to take it down. She had damaged the wall where it was hanging to the point that Chris had to patch it up.

Below is a photo of the metal curtain holder that I'm talking about.

So, when she woke from nap just a few days after that and told me that she broke her window, I was NOT happy. What she actually did was break one of the slats of her blinds. As in, she snapped the end of it right off! It took all the self control I had to not scream and yell at her right then!

The worst part in all of this was her attitude about it. She didn't act sorry. She didn't apologize. She just kind of shrugged her shoulders and said something to the effect of, "Well, Dad can fix it." Brianna is generally a good little girl. She is definitely spunky and rambunctious, but she is also tender-hearted, sweet, generous, and loving. When it came to this though? She took full responsibility for what she had done, but she acted like she didn't care. I knew that a big message needed to be sent to hopefully turn this behavior around quickly!

I called Chris at work and told him what she had done. She knew better . . . she had been given multiple warnings about playing with her window, and this was the last straw. We had worked really hard to give her a nice, cozy bedroom and this is how she treats it? NOT acceptable. We decided that we would wait until he got home that evening to decide what her punishment would be, which actually ended up being kind of torturous for her. She HATED waiting to be punished. This also gave Chris and I both a chance to not punish out of anger but out of love. Because truthfully? We were ANGRY that she was acting so spoiled and destructive and careless.

When Chris got home that evening, he and I talked for just a few minutes and came to a decision. We feel like having a bedroom is a privilege . . . one that so many children would love to have. Since Brianna had decided that she didn't want to take care of her bedroom, she lost the privilege of having a bedroom for two nights and two days. For that amount of time, we closed the door to her bedroom and she was not permitted to go in there, AT ALL. She did not get her toys, she couldn't pick out her own clothes (a big deal around here these days), and she was not permitted to sleep in her bed.

Here she is very unhappily sleeping on the couch.

I know this sounds pretty dramatic, but we wanted to send a big message to her. This whole arrangement was without a doubt a huge inconvenience to us as her parents. It was a pain to make out her bed on the couch each night. It was bothersome that she didn't have a room to nap in. I couldn't send her to her room to play. I had to go in there every day and pick out her clothes, shoes, etc. However, we are trying to raise our children with the goal of them being God-fearing, God-seeking adults in mind, and we believe that includes being good stewards of the blessings we've been given. Purposely destroying property does not fit into the "good steward" goal.

At first, she was awfully unhappy with us for taking her bedroom away. However, after a bit of time, she apologized to us (on her own) for damaging her room, and told us that she would work hard to take better care of it once she got it back.

We use a fairly wide variety of discipline methods around here including time out, loss of privileges, and yes, spanking. For this particular lesson, loss of privilege seemed to work well. We haven't had ANY problems with her being destructive since she lost her bedroom for two days. I think she certainly appreciates her room more now that she knows she can lose it. Now, I know this certainly doesn't mean that we'll never deal with this issue again, but we also know that child rearing is a journey . . . A difficult, frustrating, nerve wracking, rewarding, life-changing, awesome, beautiful journey. And we're so thankful for the opportunity to live our dream of being parents.


Cheryl said...

Chelley, I'm so proud of you and your hubby! I think this was the perfect punishment for her actions and it seemed that she got the message. When my kids were in elementary school, I was able to go through one of Jim Fay's Love & Logic courses that we offered at our school. It changed our life around here! I wish I had known the L&L techniques years before. If you're not familiar with Jim Fay's books/tapes, I would highly recommend them. It works and it's really easy. The kids hate it at first but then they quickly 'get' it and things will change around your house.

Anonymous said...

What stands out to me here as the really great thing you did is that you took the time to think about how to address this parenting challenge before implementing a consequence. As for your concern that you might have potentially damaged your child for life, I assure you that the answer is no. Even if you do make a mistake (like every parent does), it's clear that you are raising resilient, loving children with forgiving hearts. Keep up the good work.