Frank Sanders is a nationwide syndicated columnist who dispenses his “hillbilly wisdom” to any who will listen. Frank works as a painter and sometimes graveyard landscaper in Beckley WV.
I feel embarrassed to write you this question because it makes me feel like a bad parent. My three-year-old daughter Leslie is a sweet, vivacious little girl but she also has real disciplinary problems. She hits other children, refuses to share her toys with them, yells at me and other adults, and purposely destroys other’s property. I know that these problems stem from my lack of discipline, which is why I’m writing for your advice now. Our friends with children don’t want to come by anymore and we’re getting the reputation for having a spoiled child. I want the best for my daughter and I’ll do whatever it takes. What can I do to bring Leslie under control?—Frustrated in Hoboken, NJ.
My God, woman! She sounds like a real hellraiser. When I was comin’ up in the world, my pa used a switch to set me right. But after reading the book “Parenting for Morons,” I now realize that that form of discipline may be considered abuse, so that’s out the window.
There are two forms of discipline and correction that I recommend: the direct approach and the positive reinforcement approach. Try the first method initially, and then the second when the first one fails.
I recently took the job of babysitting my five-year-old nephew Clovis and had the opportunity to try these two methods firsthand.
Little Clovis got him a knife that he took from the kitchen and started cutting up the sofa while I was using the bathroom. When I found out, I realized that it was time for the direct approach.
I said, “Clovis, I demand that you stop that immediately!” Well, he turned and looked at me with that crazy look that he gets and charged me with knife in hand. Fearing for my life and health, I must admit that I fled to the bedroom and locked the door, shrieking all the while.
Next thing I know, it became as quiet as a church mouse in that trailer. Then all of a sudden, there were the terrible sounds of crashing pots, pans, and breaking glass. I stormed out to find Clovis standing on the kitchen counter emptying the cupboard’s contents onto the floor. Time for the positive reinforcement approach, I thought to myself.
After some quick thinking, I remembered that I had a half eaten chocolate bar in my pocket. I offered Clovis some if he would stop destroying things.
It is amazing how children respond to candy! In no time I had that boy as calm as could be. I even managed to have him clean up some of the mess that he had made.
Unfortunately, the chocolate and other sugary snacks that I happened to have soon ran out. He cried and angrily started back tearing up again.
It was shortly after that that his parents came home and took over from there. While it was a trying experience for me, the moral of the story is this: try the direct approach. If that doesn’t work, then always having plenty of candy on hand or you’ll be sorry.?