So, thoughts from a real sleep/discipline mess up last night.
We'd been for a walk, had a very busy afternoon in the fresh air, and Jenna was VERY tired. After she was asked not to do something, in quick succession by me and then Martin, she started to get hysterical. We weren't in the mood for the screeching (who ever is?) and both tried to get her to be quiet by less than polite means. She got more hysterical. Martin got really angry (and this is so rare that it's not surprising she was horrified by feeling him upset with her), and told her if she couldn't calm down and listen she was going to bed. Yes, we know, make bed a punishment = big trouble.
He took her up, and I could hear him, still very frustrated and tired, telling her to stop, trying to persuade her to get into bed, putting her back in bed, threatening to come downstairs and leave her, etc. Being pretty mad at her myself, I stayed out of the way. After a few minutes out of it, it clicked what was happening.
A tired, irrational, small person had upset the people she most wanted to please. She saw herself as being banished upstairs. She got frightened that maybe we were so cross we had stopped loving her. The more hysterical she got and the more she begged and pleaded for her world to be turned right way up again, the more cold we got towards her. The more frustrated and unhappy Martin got, the more hysterical she got. The more hysterical she got, the more he couldn't find a way back to connecting with her.
I text Martin from downstairs, and said, "Don't try to argue with her, just hold her. She's scared, there's no point trying to fix the behaviour, just fix the relationship." A few minutes later they were calm, smiling and talking together, reading bedtime stories. And I thought to myself... Not "just" on an emotional, long-term basis, which method was most effective?
Once again, I think we've learnt the lesson that at the times when we most want to step away and use love to punish, instead it might be wise to step closer. The loving act that we don't feel can change everything, an act of the will that puts how things *should* be above how I *feel* right now. Sometimes parenting is just that easy, and just that hard.