Thursday, January 17, 2013

The day we took his toys away

It was about a month ago. I don’t remember the exact date.  What I do remember is that overwhelming feeling of failing. Just recalling that time brings tears to my eyes. I felt and believed that I was failure as a mother.  I sent him to bed in a fit of anger (mine not his).  He was being disobedient.  And my parenting was ineffective. I went to bed myself.  And I cried.  No I wept.  I wept for what I felt was the loss of our mother-son relationship.  I felt like I was losing my son before we even had a chance to really develop a healthy, loving relationship.  I knew I was yelling too much.  Getting too angry too quickly.  And yet (or maybe because of it) his disobedience continued.  He rarely did what I asked of him the first time (or even the 10th time).  I would send him to time-out and he wasn’t bothered in the least.  In fact I think he liked getting away from me and playing in his room quietly (he wasn’t supposed to playing).  I even felt that he was looking forward to school every day in order to get a break from me. That was a hard truth to own up to.   Clearly something needed to change.  But what?
He needed more effective consequences for his disobedience.  I needed to parent him with love and patience.  We needed to spend more time together…enjoying each other’s company.
But how?
I wish I could say what happened next was a well thought out plan but it wasn’t. It was done in haste because I was at my breaking point.  We needed something drastic.  We needed change. So I took his toys away.  Every toy, stuffed animal, and book was removed from his room.  He cried. I cried.  It was painful.  He loves his legos, hero factory and transformers as though they are dear friends.  And they were all gone.
But guess what?
It got better.  He has “worked” at earning back his toys.  A day with more good behavior than bad behavior meant a toy would be waiting for him in the morning.  He listens and obeys much quicker.  And I am more patient.  I am slower to anger. I have been firm, but kinder with my discipline.  It hasn’t been easy, but worth every second of it.  And I bet given the choice between all his toys and a more loving, kind mom he would choose the latter any day!  We have gotten better.  Not perfect.  But oh so much better.  We play and laugh together.  And at bedtime I love to snuggle with him just to “chat” about life.  We are on the road to a better relationship.  One that is filled with love and healthy interactions instead of frustration and anger.
And guess what else?
Fewer toys resulted in better play!  In fact he still hasn’t earned all his toys back because he has quit asking for them.  He is content with what he has (which is about 40% of his toys).  I almost don’t want to bring them all back…

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