/ Tuesday, April 12, 2016
I Allowed a Stranger to Discipline My Son
-discipline: the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience. (Google - Oxford)
-discipline: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. (Merriam-Webster)
I shared two definitions of discipline for those who think it only means physical- whippings, spankings, beatings, etc. It doesn't.
♥ ♥ ♥
No one in our family was more excited about our vacation flights than my 4-year-old son, Gabe. Prior to the trip he would ask daily, "when are we getting on the airplane?" He made it very clear that he would rather stay on the plane than get on the "big boat" (cruise ship).
Imagine his excitement when we were finally on the plane. During our flights to Miami, each time we had a window seat Gabe sat in it, staring out at the lands below in amazement, excitingly instructing us to take a look. He said the buildings and trees looked like tiny toys that belong around his wooden train tracks.
On our last plane home, while we were walking down the aisle to our designated seats my daughter, Phoenix, decided that she wanted to sit near the window because she hadn't had the chance. I agreed. To Phoenix' dismay, Gabe quickly squeezed his way past her and stole the much desired window seat. She began to pout, so I consoled her, telling her not to worry, I would take care of him. I knew convincing Gabe to switch seats would be a difficult task, but to be fair, I had to do it.
First, I tried speaking nicely with him, explaining the importance of taking turns and encouraging him to allow "sissy" to see the same things he had a chance to see from the sky. I pleaded with him. My attempts were unsuccessful. I added bribing to the mix because, well, it works. To my surprise, after bribing him with candy I was met with a quick response of, "No thank you mommy."
Phoenix started crying.
Again, I consoled her. I didn't want to cause a scene and I knew we would soon be instructed to buckle up so I started to convince Phoenix to remain in the middle seat. However, I quickly had second thoughts and decided it wouldn't be fair to her. Gabe can't have his way all the time. I decided that since it was our last flight home, she would be able to sit near the window.
I tried reasoning with Gabe for the second time, and again, my attempts were met with disapproval so I reached over Phoenix and grabbed him to lift him out of the window seat.
Keep in mind, I'm 5'5 and 113lbs. and he's 4-years-old and a few pounds away from 50. That boy fought with all his might to stay in that seat and he's strong as heck. He didn't hit me or anything, he just wouldn't let go of the arm rest or anything else he could get a hold of. Once I tapped his hand and pried it from the arm rest, he grabbed the seat, then the magazine holder. He used his arms and legs to hold the arm rest, and body weight to stop me from picking him up, twisting and turning while crying, "No! Please mommy! Please let me sit by the window!"
I was struggling!
I glanced helplessly wide-eyed over at my husband (like, "honey are you gonna come help me with this kid or what?!), as he watched with a look of shock and surprise (which was so odd because he's usually very quick to step in and back me up if Gabe steps out of bounds).
Over the speakers, we were instructed to buckle up. Just as I was about to give in to defeat (I didn't want to cause a scene or hold us up), while standing next to my seat, the flight attendant- an average height lady of about 50 years of age with short brown hair- sternly stated,
"Young man you are disturbing my passengers! You need to sit down, listen to your mother and behave!"
He stopped immediately.
He buried his head into his arms in embarrassment and finally allowed me to pick him up and move him into the middle seat. He then cuddled up next to me putting his face into my arm. I glanced over at my husband again and this time we both smiled in shock and relief! The flight attendant's intervention was very unexpected and my son's reaction was kind of amusing.
I briefly spoke with him about his actions and once we were settled in the air, I found that the flight attendant was very nice and pleasant. When she offered us complimentary drinks she smiled at Gabe and asked him how he was enjoying the flight. I told her I appreciated her for stepping in the way she did.
Moms, what would you have done in my situation?
Why did I allow a stranger to discipline my child? Because she did something I couldn't do in that moment. Simply put, I was unable to convince my son to do as he was instructed. She didn't yell at him, she didn't hit him. I had no reason to get upset over what she said. In that moment, my son received the discipline he needed.
I'm not ashamed that my child acts his age and I don't whip or spank him for it (as I know many parents- including my husband- would suggest). He throws tantrums sometimes, however, nine times out of ten I'm able to get control of situations before they escalate. Sometimes, I'll tap his behind (literally, painless taps) once or twice to get his attention and to let him know that he better calm his butt down or time out will result. I bribe (unashamed). The situation on the plane was new for us because he doesn't normally behave that way in public. I guess he's just very passionate about airplanes :-).
At home things can be a little different, especially when it's nap time. I usually have to carry him to the bed and he resists by holding onto walls and doors and putting his legs out to prevent me from going into the room. Other than that I don't have a difficult time ending tantrums. He gets a warning and if he chooses to resort to a tantrum or fit, he has to deal with the consequences.
Later on, after the flight, I asked my husband why he didn't intervene and he responded,
"Sometimes, as a parent you're embarrassed to react to your children's behavior with drastic disciplinary measures in front of a crowd, especially on a plane where there's a possibility you can get put off. So, in that situation, when someone of authority stepped in to help rectify the situation in a decent manner, it was shocking, but also a huge relief for us. It takes a village."
Word up honey. Honestly, if the flight attendant or my husband didn't intervene Gabe would have gotten his way. If we had more time I would have asked my husband to move him, but we didn't. I'm okay with the fact that every moment to teach and discipline my way isn't going to go as expected. I accept those moments as learning experiences for myself on how I should handle similar situations in the future if they should occur.
How do you handle public meltdowns with your children?
Thanks for reading!