Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Punishing Children that aren't Yours: A How-To...sort of

Yes, they are usually always this loving

I get this question a lot about my new found nanny-hood: Do you ever punish Garrett and Whitman? and/or How do you punish a kid that is not yours?

Short answers, heck yes and easily, and now I will break it down for you.

For the most part, as long as they aren’t harming themselves or anyone else and as long as nothing is in danger of being completely demolished, I let them do whatever they want. They almost never get out of control or take my lackadaisical approach to being a nanny for granted. They know if they are good around me, they can do whatever. But that is not to say I don’t have to break out the big guns from time to time.

Let me say now, because I know a lot of you still get confused, I am not a parent. I am not even a legal guardian. The two super duper cute little boys you see on my page constantly are my nephews.  I do take it as a compliment that people think they are mine and that I could make such adorable creatures, but alas, I didn’t. When I take them out in public, I get told constantly that my children are beautiful. I take this compliment with an enthusiastic “Thank you!” and accept it as my own compliment to both my womb and my genetics (technically, they did partly come from my genetics), even though I didn’t birth them. I was there when they were born, but that is it.

Though  not mine, they still do resemble me quite a bit
I don’t have a lot of experience with children either. I hated children until my family and friends started having them and I was like “Eh, kids aren’t so bad…” I would rather deal with children than most adults, mostly because children don’t judge and their assholish behavior comes from a genuine, honest place. They also aren’t that particularly hard to impress or entertain and that is a win/win in my book.

Though I have stopped numerous fights from escalating to bloodshed, overall they are pretty well behaved…for the most part.

90% of the time, they are loving and thoughtful boys that are well behaved and well mannered. Again, I’m not around kids often, but I think it’s a rarity to find children that are considerate of other people and most of the time they are. That other 10%, they are the evil, flesh eating spawn of a velociraptor.

See? Velociraptor.

Dirty-mouthed Velociraptor with a pumpkin

I have never spanked them or hit them, and I don’t look down on people that do spank their children. For some kids, spanking works as a valid form of discipline, I know it did with both my sister and I, with these two assholes, it doesn’t.

It is not to say that I don’t “believe” in spanking. When I tell people I refuse to spank, I usually get an eye-roll and a groan but, seriously, spanking doesn’t work. Also, let me say here, I don’t know shit about parenting. I am not a parent but I do have a small, slightly significant hand in raising these kids and I want to do my best.

I think I have spanked Garrett maybe twice and I want to say both of those times were to get his attention because he was being uncharacteristically unruly. When a child is screaming at the top of their lungs and flailing about it is very, very hard not to lose your cool. I did both of those times and I am not proud of it and I still feel like shit because of it.

Do they get warnings? Yes, they get two. The first tells them to stop what they are doing and to explain why they need to stop and the second says what is going to happen when they don’t stop. And that is it.

The Aunt/ Nephew punishment regime is based on privileges and losing or gaining them. They both watch television and play video games and they don’t care for these things to be taken away. Their reaction is also much worse when these things are taken away than if I had spanked them. I am also a firm believer in time out…I can almost hear the groans through the internet, but hear me out.

Have you ever witnessed a child in the corner? I have no doubt that is the most excruciating punishment that could ever happen to a child. Not only do they have to stand there with their nose in the corner not speaking or moving, but they have to do it for what feels like FOREVER to them. You can tell me that spanking is a better punishment but I do not believe you and I am pretty sure you are wrong.

I am also a firm believer in rewarding good behavior. Something as simple as letting them pick out a free game on the iPhone will get you immediate, well-behaved results every time. Some people call this bribery, I call it incentive.

Plus, they are also still little and very young (they get bigger and older every time I turn around and it breaks my heart. Garrett now has a loose tooth, I nearly cried). They don’t yet completely understand why they have to behave certain ways and if I can give them something or take them out for ice cream or give them a few pieces of candy to reward them for not killing each other or eating their dinner or picking up toys, it’s a small price to pay.

So how do other aunts/ nannies/ actual parents punish their nephews/ charges/ children?


The Mean Beene said...

Reward the wanted behavior and ignore the unwanted behavior. They will get the hint. But you have to be super consistent with this method.

Dusty Nelson said...

Pull out

Stacey Garrett said...

Dusty Nelson, always adding a touch of class.

And who are you telling, Dusty? They aren't my kids!

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