Monday, April 13, 2009

How do you punish this?

I'm livid, furious, angry. I could rip out my hair, scream at the top of my lungs, punch a wall or the nearest tree. Thank god I managed to control myself and only let those volatile emotions come through in the form of screaming.

My 7 year old daughter just decided to climb into the window via the assistance of my curio cabinet. Nestled atop this cabinet are the Windstone Unicorns I've amassed as gifts over the years (for those not familiar with them, the cheapest one is the baby and starts at $60. The others range from $80-150) as well as numerous unicorns, music boxes, and gifts from friends and family.

Of course the curio tipped, it's not meant to be used a climbing device. I was just pulling the crock pot down to prepare a roast for dinner when I heard the crash.
When I arrived to the scene all of the Windstones (minus the baby one) were destroyed. The most treasured in the bunch (pictured above) and my favorite was broken into over a dozen pieces. The things inside didn't fare much better and I had to pull a garbage can from outside and throw away things that are tied to certain events in the past (christmas, an anniversary, a birthday as a child).

The thing is, after I was done railing at my daugther and had begun cleaning up the mess I calmed enough to tell her, "After this I expect a good report from school from you". She responds with, "If I'm good do I get to go to Wal-Mart and get a toy?"

My 7 year old has zero remorse for what she's done and I think the only thing worse than losing these things I adored is the fact that my child seems absolutely oblivious (or uncaring) for what she's done.

I'm open to advice here. What would you do?


Tania said...

Wow I'd be pissed! I'm so mean I'd probably take all her favorite toys away from her for a week! Don't do that.

Blessed said...

Actually, Tania, that's not a bad response. Well, in context. ; )

Jaime, I am so sorry for your loss. That must feel even more devastating because of everything else you are feeling right now.

I think Daddy needs to get in on this one. He will be able to sit down with her and explain how special those things were to you and how badly you feel. He could take her favorite toys and have them all together and ask her how she would feel he broke all of them. And broke them while doing something he knew was wrong. And then did not apologize for doing it. There is a good chance that the gravity of the situation might kick in for her.

Sometime last year I read something about how to apologize, and I have been trying to remember to implement it into our own home life, because I think if more people did this, the world would be a much better place:
--admit specifically what I did and that it was wrong (i like having the kids say in their own words that they were wrong--it seems to have more beneficial impact than just hearing mommy say it about them, to them)
--ask for forgiveness
--ask what I can do to make it right again

So it might look like "I am so sorry I pulled your hair. I know that hurt and it was wrong of me to do it. Do you forgive me? What can I do to make it right?" Your husband might encourage her to consider what she wants to say to you--and it had better be good. ; )

Definately she needs to "make it right" in some way--to learn personal responsibility and consequence. But that can't come directly from you, or it comes out petty and vindictive (speaking from experience here) and not just an important learning experience for the child.

When my 8 year old broke something special of mine this past year I was livid. But she *got* it, and after a while she came back from her room with a piece of paper that had a written apology on it (all misspelled, so cute) with coins from her piggy bank taped to it (the precious 50 cent pieces she gets from the tooth fairy). She could not fix what she had broken, but she was offering me what she could to help pay for a new one, and that made everything good again.

Making it right is not just to help mend your hurt and frustration, but also is good for her growing heart. : )

Please let us know what you end up doing and how it works!

Lawfrog said...

Oh, that is so hard to deal with. It's so hard to have to pick up the pieces of your life's treasures and throw them away.

A large punishment is in order for this. What is one thing Arwen enjoys doing? Whatever that is, be it playing games, watching TV, or what have you, needs to be restricted for at least a month. That seems a long time, but the punishment needs to fit the crime.

The fact that she asked you if she can get a toy for a good report card means she's not connecting the event to the consequence. She needs to be punished consistently for this. Consistency is the toughest part of this - sit her down with your husband and let her know calmly and quietly that this behavior is not going to be tolerated and let her know what the punishment will be.

Then, most importantly, be consistent with that punishment otherwise she will know she can do what she wants and you won't follow through.

I'm REALLY sorry about this.

raecatherine said...

Wow being a parent sure sounds tough! I obviously don't have parental experience, but I like Blessed's suggestions. I think this incident is so emotional and upsetting for you that it is a good idea for Dad to take this on. Kids can sense when emotion is clouding your logic and react to that.

For whatever reason, Arwen cannot relate to your feelings on the matter and it needs to be made more concrete to her so that she understands. Otherwise she won't be able to associate the 'punishment' with a consequence of her actions, just 'my parents are meanies'.

This is not entirely the same issue, but I want to share with you a memory I have from my childhood around not understanding interpersonal interactions. Around first grade age as a child I was very critical sometimes of others, this probably came from the influence of my grandmother who was unfortunately quite critical. When I got some feedback from school teachers about this, my Mom's way of making me understand the problem was role-playing with her by have me say positive/negative comments where she would react to what I had said.

To this day I still remember feeling that 'aha' moment of understanding the effect my actions had on others.

However you and Jimbo decide to manage this, I wish you the best of luck! You are her parents and know her best.