Yesterday I had to do something that as a parent I think is one of the hardest things to do. It just about broke my heart and today I am still upset about it. I'm writing this in hopes that one day when Anthony is older it will help him understand that parents really don't get a thrill out of punishing their children. I now think that it may be harder on the parents than it actually is on the kids but how do you help them to learn important lessons?
Anyway, here is what happened:
Anthony, who is an extremely sweet and sensitive boy is also a child that likes to get reactions out of his siblings. He loves to push their buttons and is known to walk by someone and hit them, giggling while he is doing it. He thinks it is funny and of course it is not. We have had lots of talks about this with him and about the importance of keeping your hands (and feet and whatever else) to yourself. He is better about it than he was and hopefully he will continue to improve. To help him understand the importance of his behavior we set up a strike policy. We very clearly explained to Anthony what kind of behavior would be a strike.
If Anthony gets three strikes in one week then he won't be able to go to Cub Scouts. Anthony loves cub scouts and looks forward to going every week so we thought this would be a good incentive for him. As a bonus, if he has a week totally strike free (which has only happened once) then he gets a special reward. Right now going BB gun shooting with his Dad is hanging over his head.
I thought Anthony was going to have a no strike week since Sunday night he was strike free and only had to get through Monday and Tuesday. I guess it was not meant to be and maybe Anthony has to learn that we will stick to our rules. By the time Monday afternoon rolled around Anthony had three strikes. I really hated giving out the last strike that I knew would keep him from going to cub scouts and since it has happened I've gone over it in my head many times. Did I act too rashly? Did I react to the situation? Did I act out of anger? I feel that I handled it very well and based on the rules we had previously set up for Anthony I feel that he had plenty of warning and chances to change his behavior and avoid the punishment.
I think Anthony understood completely that he deserved the three strikes because he didn't argue but simply hung his head as the tears dripped off his cheeks. He didn't stomp up to his room and slam the door but came to me for hugs and comfort while he cried and I cried along with him. It about broke my heart.
So, tonight is Cub scouts and I'm sure that when Jeremiah leaves to go there will be more tears. From both Anthony and his Mommy. But now it is a new week and Anthony has a clean slate. No strikes. Can he keep it that way?