Sometimes, as a parent, you need to get creative with discipline in order to get through to your child.... which is how Annika ended up wearing sweat pants for the past week.
Christmas was rough on us. It was good, but still, it was rough. It was just too much of everything, and paired with a week of sickness afterwards, it really took its toll on Annika and it all came out in her behaviour. We have been dealing with some really bad behaviour lately - tantrums, not listening, hitting, name-calling, whining, complaining, poor eating and bad table manners. You name it, we've likely seen it in the past 2 weeks. Finally, enough was enough. I knew that the circumstances were partly to blame, but Annika also needed to take some responsibility and realize that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable. So, when the usual forms of discipline weren't working, I threatened to take away something very near and dear to her - her dresses and skirts. Annika loves wearing dresses and skirts - she wears them almost every day (or if not, then a long tunic shirt with leggings). She never wants to wear pants or jeans anymore; she just wants to wear a dress. So when her behaviour didn't change with the threat, we followed through with it, and last Sunday night we took every dress, skirt and fancy shirt out of her closet and put them away (I left her dress up clothes, though - I think those fall into a different category).
So, she's been wearing pants for the past week. One day I even made her wear jeans (which she really dislikes, not sure why), but she changed out of them during her quiet time in the afternoon (sneaky girl). I'd like to say that the punishment made an immediate and lasting change in her behaviour, but it didn't (that would've been too easy, right? :P). The past week was still rough, but she has been getting better in the last few days (Friday and Saturday specifically). When we took away the dresses, we didn't have a specific plan as to when or how she would get them back. We thought about giving them back one at a time, after she did something good, but with the number of dresses and skirts she has, it would end up dragging on for quite some time. So we decided to do it all at once, when her behaviour was showing signs of improvement.
Like I said, her behaviour was much better on Friday and Saturday, so we gave her everything back on Saturday evening, just before bedtime. And just in time for church today (she loves church because she gets to wear her fanciest dresses to church).
I found it very fitting that today in church the story for the kids talked about being beautiful not just on the outside, but on the inside too. And how we needed to have good behaviour and good attitudes to be beautiful on the inside (using the example of the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). I'm hoping that it made some impact on Annika. She's obsessed with the idea of outward beauty, which is why I think she likes wearing dresses and skirts so much - she thinks they make her beautiful, like a princess. Now hopefully we can find a way to focus on inner beauty, as well. I want to make a chart or poster or something to be a reminder to her that beauty starts on the inside. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.