Now What?

If you live in a Tornado Prone area, you know the lingo. You know that if the local weather people – to the best of their abilities – have predicted possible “Severe Weather” then you have to stay “Weather Aware” all day. You keep the radio on, or your Twitter feed pulled up, you listen to the newscasts of the counties getting hit by the storms releasing kids from school early and you rearrange your day so you can be prepared for a pickup.

That’s a new thing, by the way. Letting the kids out under the threat of severe weather. We’ve had some bad storms and had a school get hit in the last few years and this is what happens now. Even though they practice tornado drills in school, they don’t have to use them as much anymore because they just send the kids home.

So, yesterday I was on edge like everyone else in town. We had a few blips of No Power which is weird since we have underground utilities. However, when we lost power for a week 2 years ago it was because storms took out a hub outside of Huntsville, so I have flashbacks to living in the dark for 5 days every time the lights go out. We also had blips without internet, which could possibly have nothing to do with the storms. But still…TENSION!

(Just creating the mood for my last night parenting adventure.)

Wes used to have a severe hitting problem. I blamed it on a tendency for over-enthusiastic rough-housing with his sister. She could beat him in any game so he would just fight back physically which she would encourage because – well – she was was bigger and could beat him at that too. I put a moratorium on rough-housing. I don’t feel like either one of them really understands how to rough-house without hurting each other, but hitting was turning into his Go To Move for any excitement/fun.

He has gotten much better. BUT! He’s not perfect. We still deal with “accidental” outbursts where the Go To instinct takes over momentarily when they’re goofing off. And then sometimes? He just hits. Intentionally hits. And I’ve done just about everything on the range of punishments. Last night, he punched repeatedly and intentionally and I took everything out of his room that he couldn’t wear.

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That is the pile of stuff. And now I have no idea what to do with it. I took it out with the threat of sending it all to Goodwill. Of course, there’s a lot of sentimental stuff in there I wouldn’t want to get rid of. And books! I don’t want to get rid of books. And a lot of that pile are gifts from family. Is that really rude to give away gifts people give your kids as a means of punishment? And do I really want to do that anyway? Give away all his toys? He’s made tons of progress.

I think I’m going to let him “earn” his things back. Maybe one day at a time of no hitting. I hate the threat of a “bad day” hovering over every minute. Like, one bad move and BAM! no toy. I hate those kind of days. Sometimes they’re effective, but I still hate them.

SO. How do I see this through? I didn’t really say anything last night while I was taking the stuff away other than, “I’m taking all of your things away.” He assumes I’m taking it all to Goodwill, and there was appropriate levels of crying, so I just let him continue with that thought. I know a lot of us have commiserated about this type of extreme move, so I’d love to hear your insights. If you did the TAKE IT ALL road, what did you do with it? If you haven’t done it, how would you do it should it come to that?

11 Comments

  • Ccori

    I put it all in a big Rubbermaid bin with an envelope of “chores” they have to do to earn them back.
    The chores could be real chores (feed the dog, make the bed, take out the trash), or silly (write and perform a song about how much you live your family, compliment 5 people, do something nice for your sister).
    Each chore goes on an index card, which they pull at random from the envelope. Once they complete it, they get to pull a toy from random out of the box.

    Sentimental stuff doesn’t get included, I just sneak the back in the room during the day.

    Good luck!

  • Jen W.

    I love the idea of him earning the toys back. I would put the sentimental stuff and books back unless he really loves the books and will work hard for them.
    When I had this happen at my house, I told my kids that I could not trust them anymore to play nicely with others. By hitting they had broken my trust and now they were not allowed to play with others until they could prove they could handle that responsibility by not hitting. They had to spend all day with me by my side. (This was easier for me since I was a stay at home mom) And then gradually we set a timer that they could play 10 minutes with their sibling. If they didn’t hit, they got praised big time. If they did hit, then it was back to spending time with only me or dad. If I was feeling really spiteful, I set the other children up with something special to do.
    I tried from an early age to teach them that they only got privileges when I trusted them to handle that responsibility.

    I think you are doing a great job! You have given me so many great ideas to do with my kids. You will solve this problem too. I know it.

  • Vicki

    Earning them back is the ticket. But earn them by not hitting. You need to reinforce what you are trying to change. Every day that he doesn’t hit praise and one thing back in the room. If he hits, take one away. Great idea!!

  • Emily

    From the time I was itsy-bitsy through high school if I wouldn’t clean my room (and especially if I fibbed about it), my parents would take all of my things besides clothes until I earned them back.

    Sometimes it took chores to get my things back, sometimes it was just an amount of “grounded” time. I have to say, it was pretty darn effective. It taught me that you had to earn privileges, you didn’t just deserve them, especially if you were being bratty.

    Since he’s still so little, earning things back seems like a great idea! It’s a very powerful lesson when you’re a wee one : )

  • Michelle

    My parents at one point took a vast majority of my stuff, and also my brother’s, away and let us keep VERY few things because we wouldn’t clean our rooms. Dad brought in giant garbage bags and told us he was throwing it all out.

    He didn’t. Every so often, we would get something back. At the time I thought it was the worlds greatest injustice. Now, it seems totally rational. And it was effective.

    So, if this were me, I’d take select things out (a few books, a favorite action figure, whatever) for his room. And take the rest out and I think letting him know he can earn it back is a good idea. I think earning priveleges is an important lesson.

  • Kim L

    Whoo boy. We had three tornado touchdowns in our metro area two days ago so I feel ya. I hate tornadoes.
    Also, I remember my parents taking all of the things away. I believe our stuff went into trash bags they were stashed in the garage and we had to earn our shit back. Good luck!

  • Swistle

    I would not get rid of it all, partly because because of waste and partly because it seems out of proportion. I would probably give most/all of it back after a certain interval (like 1 day). Being without all his stuff for 24 hours seems like a nice big grounding, but not crazy-big. Or, I might have him earn it back with Good Days and perhaps an item every time he handles a situation the way you want him to instead of with hitting.

  • Sara

    Like the other commenters, I love the idea of earning it back! Even if you just spontaneously decide that seeing him being kind to his sister earned him a pile of books. I would also clean out a good pile that he no longer needs/plays with and show him that this stuff is going to another child who is nice to his sister – and when you’re nice to your sister, you can earn the rest back! I don’t think that’s too harsh of a punishment at all. We don’t do disrespect in this house. Physical or verbal.

    But your other question, is it okay to get rid of things people have given to your children? ABSOLUTELY! For whatever reason YOU see fit – whether punishment or otherwise. Those were gifts to your children and once they were given, they’re used under your discretion – not theirs. We have cleanouts in this house on a regular basis. We have a hoarder in the family and my husband is a self-proclaimed minimalist. Sometimes we will get bagfulls of junk from that person and they will go straight to trash/donate. There’s not one day that goes by where he doesn’t ask to get rid of something that he thinks we no longer need. One day, he even threw out my vegetable oil. I mean, REALLY!? Anyway, living with him has taught me that just because someone thought enough of my child to give them a gift, doesn’t mean that we have to keep it forever or make our house cluttered and messy in order to not hurt feelings somewhere down the road. There are some toys we pack up and put in the attic (American Girl dolls, barbies, polly pockets – she’s not out grown all of them yet!) because I know that’s something valuable enough for her to want to pass down to her kids. Other toys, like a first doll house or other all-in-one activities (ahem – playdoh) I call the person who gave them and say honestly – ‘we don’t have room in this house’ or ‘she got in trouble and had to have some toys taken away’ – would you like them for your house? Usually they say yes.

    Just found your blog, great read!!

  • Amy Jo

    We just did the exact same thing with my son for the exact same reason. Except that he’s 7 and he got in trouble at school. :/ We’ve been making him earn his stuff back with good behavior, plus he can earn stuff more quickly by completing worksheets we have. If he’s going to be trapped in his room, he might as well work on his penmanship and multiplication! When he is allowed out though, he isn’t allowed to engage in any active play with his siblings. Just calm quiet activities like crafts and coloring. If he can control himself this weekend he’ll be permitted more play time.

    Good luck with Wes!

  • Kate

    I agree on the earning – for my 3 year old she has to do ‘good girl’ things and they are usually pretty little things. On a similar topic I sometimes put toys in ‘time out’ because ‘they’ were making the kids fight (ie they were being fought over). They come out after a normal time out. Seems to work