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The Big Picture

The Barney Fife Approach

Can we talk about smart-aleck kids? 
"I cannot believe the way some of my friends talk to their mothers," my own kids will tell me from time to time.
"They wouldn't live at home if they talked to me that way," I say.
"They wouldn't be alive if they talked to you that way," one of them replied not too long ago with a laugh.
Without apology, I don't put up with sass. And I have my own mother to thank for it. Despite my sisters' insistence that Baby (that's me)  never got in trouble, I can remember my mother coming at me with a spanking and a few choice words.  Mama put up with a lot of things from her eight kids, but sass was not one of them.
Consequently, I have followed her example.  From the first time my kids are old enough to back talk, I nip it--Barney Fife style--in the bud.  But unlike Barney, I have my bullet in my gun and not in my pocket.  That is, I have a plan.
Preschoolers get a quick swat on the backside or a little pinch on the arm.  Again, I got the same from my mom, and it only hurt me in the way God intended.  "I don't understand all this bargaining  that goes on with kids these days," my mother once said to me.  "Why not just give them a swat and be done with it?"  Amen.
My school age kids write sentences as punishment, and I have my middle school drama teacher, Mrs. Mills, to thank for that.  One day I thought it would be hil-arious if I put tacks in everyone's chairs.  She, however, did not think it so funny and ordered that I write sentences stating, I will not put tacks in people's chairs
I now do the same with my own kids who just once in a while might have to write, I will not talk back to my mother.  So thank you, Mrs. Mills, for that very creative idea.
Middle and high schoolers sometimes write sentences but mostly lose privileges--Wii, phone, TV, car keys, email.  There is just so much you can take away these days.  And so much you can add, too--clean the garage, wash the windows, do the dishes all weekend. 
For example, when I have had grumbling about not keeping up with the laundry adequately, the laundry gets turned over to the grumbler.  End of issue.  Nipped it.  Just like Barney.
Bottom line:  kids have to learn how to be nice, and guess whose job it is to teach them?  You win, parents!  Teachers can't do it by themselves.  Counselors can come up with solutions til the cows come home, but unless we parents take responsibility for kids' behavior, the issues will never really be resolved.
So get those pencils sharpened.  Have the paper ready.  And when Junior smarts off, and he will, pull out your weapons like old Barney use to pull out his pistol. 
And whatever you do, don't forget your bullet.

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