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So long stuffed animals; Fayette-Mom takes action

Posted March 7, 2011

Jennifer Joyner

It’s been a long, long week at our house. My seven-year-old daughter had been warned a few times about some behavior my husband and I have been trying to nip in the bud.

Clearly, our threats were not getting through and action had to be taken, but boy, did we dread the follow through. If ever there was a case where a parent says “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you”, this was definitely it.

To say stuffed animals are the most important thing in Emma’s life is a gross understatement. Bears, puppies and kitties in all shapes, sizes and colors cover every available surface in this child’s room — I’m amazed she finds a place to sleep at night, her bed is so populated. When she kept misbehaving, I let my frustration get ahead of me and I told her if she did it again, I would take away every stuffed animal she had.

Well of course, you know what happened next.

My husband discovered what she had done while she was at school. I had all day to think about what I was going to say to her, but all I could imagine was what torture we were in for. This daughter of mine can wear you down like nobody’s business, and gosh, wouldn’t it just be easier on everyone if we could come up with some other punishment?

My mom’s always reminding me that no one promised parenting would be easy.

That night, we laid it all out for Emma, reminding her of how many times she had been warned. At first, she gave excuses, then she offered promises. When we informed her that she would lose her stuffed animals for a week, it was as bad as we feared -- tears, sobbing, even screaming, but we were stoic. It took six large garbage bags to clear out her room. It felt like an eternity for her to finally fall asleep, her eyes swollen and her voice hoarse.

Every morning, she asks us to change our minds. When she gets off the bus in the afternoon, she wants to know how many days are left. At night, she tries to bargain — can she just have one animal back? You would think it might get easier, but she’s just as upset now at the end of the punishment as she was at the beginning.

And I suppose that’s the point. I want her to remember how this feels — how it’s not fun to lose things that are important to you, and that if Mom and Dad say they’re going to do something, they absolutely mean it.

It’s been a long, miserable week. But I have to hope it was worth it.

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.


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  • mdwrfw Mar 9, 2011

    Excellent! The hardest part of discipline is the follow through. I have seen too many parents threaten over and over and then wonder as their children get older why they don't respect them. It is much easier to correct bad behavior when your child is young than during the teen years or later. I enjoy the Go Ask Mom blogs so much and as a "been there, done that" mom and grandma, it is comforting to listen to these great young mothers deal with their children with wonderful,caring mothering .

  • MomOfTwins Mar 8, 2011

    I've sooooo been where you are now! And I can tell you that every minute of torture for you this week is going to be worth it. In the future when she is thinking of doing whatever it is you're trying to nip, you'll just have to say "remember what happened last time?" and she'll correct on her own. At least at our house, we're going on 3 years of no lying from my daughter after a VERY torturous week of no chocolate (she puts chocolate chips on just about everything and pretty much didn't eat for the week).

  • Twittyfan Mar 8, 2011

    Good Job... Keep it up and stand up to the child because she will appreciate it later...

  • kittiboo Mar 8, 2011

    Good for you for following through! And finding something that (hopefully) works. Sometimes you have to search to find what really matters to your kid, and it sounds like you did.

  • marmar13 Mar 8, 2011

    An old proverb states: If you don't discipline your children they will grow up to hate you. How many times +I've seen this happen. Stick to your guns. I recently heard a law enforcement officer remind parents that it is their LEGAL responsibility to keep their children safe.

  • hihuwatlu Mar 8, 2011

    Stand strong now so you'll have to punish less as she gets older. This will pay off and make things easier for you in the long run.

  • zeestinker Mar 8, 2011

    Parenting is the toughest job I've discovered. You did the right thing. Nothing worse than undisciplined children. It means you care and love her!

  • kg4rmt Mar 8, 2011

    Good for you. Sometimes you just have to be the parent, not the friend.

    Hang in there! It will get easier in aout 13 more years!

  • kpeele Mar 7, 2011

    It's tough, I'm sure...but you're doing the right thing by keeping your word and making sure that the consequences make their intended impression. It's hard now but it's best for your daughter's character in the long-term view of things!