Good Behavior for 100 please

There was something that my family, close friends and I observed about my sons' behavior over this recent visit that had us all questioning where it could be coming from. It's an observation I made months ago. However, as a mother I realize I can be a little sensitive and I definitely over analyze sometimes. Regarding my son, I watch him close and sometimes notice things no one else would otherwise notice. I continued to monitor him without raising the issue initially. While I knew the potential for it to get worse was there, if not addressed; I wanted to be mindful that it really could be something I was over reacting about.

In the past and for the most part, my child has been well-mannered, respectful and always demonstrated stability in his discipline structure. This was of course when he was with me on a full-time, regular basis. I think this is why I would be more prone to noticing a sudden change. If I'm accustomed to seeing something 24- hours a day, I could recognize the slightest change. .....As I did with my child.

My friends, as well as total strangers would often comment on how good my child was. They have literally walked up to me in airport, park, mall, restaurant etc. to comment on how well- behaved my child was. (Even during terrible two's) When he was home with me, he was a little perfectionist- he loved to clean before he was even walking well. He put away his toys and kept his room cleaned. When he began to speak, it was always please and thank you. He was a great listener and he did what I told him. He was eager to help, learn and explore.

Aside from the reasonable speculation about this recent change in his behavior being a result of the traumatic changes in his life; we all felt the urge to know if there was something more than that.

Being among family and friends who were in my child's life since birth, I was able to get an unbiased opinion about an observation I made months ago. Sure enough, the comments collectively were, wow- daddy sure did a number on his discipline in such a short time. We could all agree that there was a noticeable change there and was probably due to the new environment where discipline is non- existing. The "fun" parent usually arrives at being the fun parent, because children get their way with them.

To further make the point, I wondered how my child's response to discipline became so warped. Number one, I've never had to tell him over and over to do or not to do something. He's always known that once is already too many times to tell you something you already know not to do. And so, when his hand met the switch- he lashed out, "where's my toys- daddy buy me toys to be good." Awe! Learned behavior. So I'm over here teaching him to be good and rewarding him later. While dad is purchasing good behavior. I'm teaching him that he should be good no matter what and dad is teaching if he's good he will buy him something. Interesting. Maybe a matter of perception vs perspective. Either way, my child seemed confused about why he should be good since I was not giving him a toy at the same time. My mom and I thought maybe this is not true. But again, as confirmation always shows up in my life- his dad called and told him "if you are good I will buy..... I will give..... I will...." Mom and I had to laugh when we heard this because I've never had to compromise or negotiate a deal with a three year old about behavior. It was like a light went off when we heard that.

There should never be such a stipulation (IF you are good.......) there is no IF you are good....and if you teach this from the beginning, there would be no problem. Something else I've never had to do is coerce my child. IG; "if you don't come with me, I won't get you a truck" lol what's that about? When I see my child, he runs to me. I never have to tell him about all the wonderful things I bought him that are in the house if he comes on with me.  This sends the absolute wrong message to children. Operation: Correct ASAP! Or else, children will think someone owe them something for doing the things that they are supposed to be doing. A 'properly installed' reward system should be implemented, but children are not for sale and their behavior should never be purchased. You may not see it now because what kid don't want a new toy. But later years.... Oh boy!

While it's easy to point the finger to Harris County court and their premature, negligence in ruling; that caused this abrupt change to occur in my toddler's life, I have to also consider other factors that play into that change. Such as his new environment. I could cry over the spilled milk of how asinine, yet political of a judge's decision it was to, WITHOUT ANY REASON put a three year old with a parent who's been absent for the most part of his life...but the bigger issue is- my son needs me to give him the attention right now.

I have to consider the structure change, the sudden change, the confusion about what's going on. What's being fed to my child and how he's being treated? Who's telling him what? I have to consider his new teachers, his new friends. The exposure to other children who act like this...All those things and several other... Factor into the method to the madness. It also made me realize this could totally be the reason his father does not want me to visit the daycare he attends and to have the reports from his teachers.

His father called one day and mentioned he was biting, scratching and hitting at school and that the teacher has called him stating they don't know what to do. My first thought was, well it's a new school and the third one he's been in since you’ve had him (in 10 months (default temporary order) don't you see something going on here? All these changes and introductions into new settings is overwhelming to a three year old. Which is why his dad may feel like he should barter toys with his child. Does he realize he's single-handily causing this? And to remedy it, he's trying to buy him? All I'm saying is, I've NEVER been on the end of such a phone call from a school regarding my child's behavior. He's always been "the teacher's favorite" because of good behavior.  This is something dad wouldn't know or notice because he didn't take advantage of the opportunity to interact with my child as I have. He wasn't an active or present parent. Now that he is, it's a great thing but it's also important that he's honest in the communicating of my child's well-being. I believe he's been afraid to do this, because he knows the changes were at his hand and were not good. What he doesn't know is I understand that. I understand that he realizes he messed up but all this covering up is what's messing it up even more. Children in these tender years need some kind of blueprint. When your blue print is all over the place, so is the foundation. And the cycle perpetuates itself.... Parenting on a faulty foundation will hinder structure.

My wish is that parents wise up. Communicate and be honest about the environment and atmosphere that the children are in when in the absence of the other parent. Don't influence your children to dislike the other parent just to gain their favor. Don't introduce new people in your child's life with the intent to take them away from the natural parents and family. More importantly on that note alone: don't keep the company of a man or woman who would condone what you know as your bitterness toward the other parent!!!! Don't take it out on the child!! Don't influence children to pick between parents- always consider what's best. This can actually be accomplished if parents let go of the bitter breakup that happened years ago....Work together toward solutions instead of competing for love of the child. Work together on discipline and back each other up. When I was growing up my mom never said yes, if my dad said no- and vv. Dad's answer was always, "what did your mom say?" They always backed each other and if they didn't agree it was not a public display. If parents work together, co-parenting can be just as effective as raising children under the same roof. But it would take honesty about the child's well-being. You have to operate as if you are under the same roof. That's what makes it a cohesive transition back and forth.


Niedria D. Kenny

The D, is for Deon - same name as my son. The only child AKA Prince Cornelius; he's the Prince in "Prince Cornelius and his Magical Friends" a book dedicated to the life and growth of my child. 

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