Discipline isn’t something I ever thought I’d be writing about if I am truly honest. We’ve never had any issues behaviour wise with Lily. In the five years I’ve known her, Lily has been an angel – quite literally, with only one meltdown in that time – a time both Chris and I would have happily put her in the bin!
She had just turned 3 and we were visiting the annual city fair in my hometown for the first time as a family. I was so excited to be sharing it with them, the fair is something I love despite not being a fan of rides.
We had visited my parents prior to this and had had a lovely day, filled with family time and Lily playing with my family dog Toby. She had loved every second and I think that was our downfall. She was warn out.
I remember there was someone stood with a big bunch of balloons, and Lily was desperate for one, and begged constantly for Chris and I to buy her one.
Reluctantly, Chris bought her the balloon – not because he didn’t want her to have a balloon, but because they were something ridiculous like £10 and he knew she’d soon get bored with it, but it was our first time at the fair and something I had so been looking forward to he didn’t want the moment to be spoilt.
Around 10 minutes after buying the balloon, as predicted (a little sooner than we had anticipated), Lily got bored of her balloon, but instead of just saying she didn’t want it anymore, she screamed, and cried, and kept shouting at Chris and I to take it back to the man because she didn’t want it anymore.
It’s safe to say Chris wasn’t happy with her, and it was soon after this that we grabbed some food quickly before heading back to the car with a miserable Lily, a deflated couple and a pretty sad looking balloon.
Lily had been so tired from all the fun she’d had at my parents’ that by the time she got to the fair, she wasn’t as excited as I was, which made her grumpy. Some would say it was the ‘terrible twos’ kicking in late, but luckily it didn’t materialise past that day.
And as irritating as that day was, it never happened again so we really can’t complain! In fact, I still remind Lily at nearly 8 years old of that day, and how we nearly put her in the bin (obviously we would never actually put her in the bin!). She doesn’t remember the event itself – and sometimes I wish we didn’t either!
But anyway, at that age, Lily’s discipline was that we left and went home, so we’ve never had to discipline her at all in her lifetime. She’s never been on the ‘naughty step’ or had a time-out, never been grounded and has always done things the first time of asking – I think I was blessed!
Now, Lily’s getting older, and she’s testing her boundaries with us, we’ve had to speak to her now and again for being cheeky, but only to nudge when she should and shouldn’t say things – and she has understood.
As many of you will have read in my previous posts, during lockdown, we have moved to a 5 days on, 5 days off routine with Lily between here and her mum’s, and it was last week on the night before we picked her up that we received a message from Lily’s step dad.
He explained Lily had been mean to another girl the week before, and had been given a warning by them but had then done it a second time to the same girl a week later and was now facing being ‘grounded’ as Lily called it.
What she had said and done isn’t the point of this post, but how as an extended family we dealt with this for the first time.
We are lucky enough to be in a group chat of myself, Chris, Lily’s mum and her step dad, and will often use that to talk about picking Lily up and dropping her off etc, but this was the first time discipline was discussed.
As a team, we made the decision that whatever punishment Lily received there, would also be given at our house, to ensure that Lily understands that what she did was wrong, and that whatever happens at either house is dealt with by us all as a family.
In this case, as it was the first time she had properly been in trouble, she received a week’s tech ban and she wasn’t allowed to play out with her friends.
The week of the ban had started at her mum’s but continued at our house for the five days she was here.
Lily’s mum and step dad had had a word with her about the mean thing she had said to her friend – which we have a feeling was encouraged by another friend (the joys of kids and friendship groups!), and when she arrived here, Chris and I also had a word with her to ensure she understood why she had the tech ban.
And so far so good – I think the ban definitely worked for us and she understood why she was punished and *touch wood* knows not to do it again!
And honestly? The week of no tech was lovely, and highlighted to us the impact being on tech a lot as a child can impact them – Lily seemed to be a different person, she would have full conversations with us, she was being more imaginative and making games up with her toys, and she was being so helpful – but that may have been because she wanted to be in our good books!
The biggest thing we as coparents learnt from this I think, is that by working as a team and having that united front, Lily was able to understand the clear rules and know that they are for both houses.
There is no confusion between what is and isn’t allowed at each house – some things may differ slightly but the key rules and disciplines are the same throughout and really help to get that message across about what is right and wrong.
Hopefully we won’t have to implement discipline for another five years, but at least we know if and when something happens in the future, as a team, we’ve got this.