I know you all are doubtful that it is possible to raise attachment challenged, traumatized children without punishing them for their poor behavior. The real challenge is resisting the parental urge to punish. What you can do instead is get extremely good at restorative justice.
For your child, restorative justice is labor intensive, pocket-book painful, and shame free. It is just this simple. If you break it or steal it, you pay for it from your own resources–allowance, birthday money, savings, holiday money, earned income. If you waste my time, you owe me. No money? No problem. Pay your debt by dusting baseboards, pulling weeds, cleaning out the gutters, sweeping the patio, skimming the pool, walking the dog…there are a zillion ways to pay off the repair of damage done or time spent repairing, waiting, searching, taxi-ing, etc.
The world works according to the principles of restorative justice. If you park too long, you pay a price. If you back into another car, you pay to fix it. If you put a hole in the wall, you repair it after shopping and paying for spackle. If you do not show up to a therapy appointment, you have to pay anyway. If you do not show up for work, you are fired and do not collect a paycheck. Restorative justice is educational and excellent training for the future.
Those are the kinds of consequences that make sense, restore justice, require responsible action, and have zero emotional expenditures if you can manage to regulate.
I can kind of hear a cry from many of you parents: What if they won’t do it? If they won’t, then they don’t get the next thing they want until they do restore justice. It’s a kind of barless jail. When bail is paid, life goes back to normal. Just like in real life. This can be your child’s real life. Give it a shot and stop punishing poor behavior. Punishment teaches nothing positive. Restorative justice teaches fairness.
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly, no fee Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month. Next group is November 11th at a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.
The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month. Our next course dates are December 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans. Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.
…and justice for all.