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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Joy in the Journey -The couch

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Jonathan Oliver

    Jonathan Oliver

I can still remember aggravating my two brothers to the point where all three of us got kicked off the couch. Normally my older brother would already be sitting on the couch watching TV, then my little brother would typically walk in the room and sit on the couch and begin watching whatever my older brother was watching. Finally I would run into the room, jump on the couch, and begin asking to change the channel.  From there it was all downhill. An argument would start with my older brother saying he was there first, followed by my reply which was usually I don’t care. Next our mom would walk into the living room and end it all by kicking us all off the couch and making us go outside.  Needless to say, once outside my brothers weren’t jumping for joy to play with me.

The couch is an item in the house that can be the source of comfort and relaxation, as well as the centerpiece for sibling rivalry. Looking back now as a 37 year old man, two behavior problems were taking place in that little story and they both had to do with me. The first is that we had a rule that whoever was watching TV first gets to watch the channel that they wanted until they decided to give up the remote. So I pretty much ignored that rule. Secondly I “jumped” onto the couch, which doesn’t seem like a big deal when you are 12 years old, but is a huge deal when your name is Journey. Our almost 16 month old has started to climb onto the couch and jumping on the couch at this stage is an absolute no for safety reasons.

Last Friday evening I disciplined Journey for the first time using the actual true definition of discipline which is “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.” Journey can now climb onto the couch, and after she pulls herself up, she likes to start running from one end of the couch to the other end while bouncing and jumping. This is very dangerous and when her mother or me ask her to stop and climb back down Journey starts bouncing and jumping even more. To a 16 month old this is fun, but to mom and dad this is a serious accident waiting to happen.

I had told Journey twice to please stop climbing onto to the couch in a firm, but not aggressive tone. For example I would say firmly “No Journey”. Once she was on the couch I would say “Don’t jump and please get down” (side note: she knows how to get back down without jumping off). She only giggled more. The first time I removed her from the couch and placed her in her gated play area and she fussed for about 45 seconds. I took her out of her play area and she ran right back to the couch and climbed up and started jumping again. I removed her from the couch and put her back into her play area and explained to her that I didn’t want her to accidentally get hurt.  I told her since she wasn’t listening to my instructions that I was punishing her by putting her into the confined space of the play area. After about one minute of fussing I let her back out and she immediately ran and climbed on the couch again.  This time I was on the phone with my bride and I explained to her what was going on with Journey and the couch as she drove home from work. When Journey got on the couch the third time, I picked her up and took her to her room. I placed her in her crib and walked out of her room shutting the door. I set my watch for 5 minutes. Journey screamed bloody murder for 5 straight minutes. After 5 minutes, I walked back into her room. She immediately reached out for me to hold her. I wiped the tears from her eyes and the snot from her nose. I gently explained why she went to her room and that I loved her too much to allow her to hurt herself. I then gave her a hug and she proceeded to hold my hand as we walked out of her room together.

She look at the couch and then back at me. Then she went to her bookshelf and picked out three books and sat on the floor so I could read them to her. It almost made me cry seeing how sweet she was. I know that Journey gets it and it comes down to a very simple thing: we will either parent Journey or Journey will parent us. The bottom line is until Journey can appropriately respond to “no” and “don’t” when her mother or I say it and when she displays proper behavior and self control then she will be allowed to sit, relax, and enjoy the couch safely.

It may seem a little harsh to make such a big deal about the couch, however the couch in my mind is an interchangeable example for the street, the mall, or the neighbors couch and Journey’s understanding and compliance of “no” or “don’t” all applies the same. I’m so thankful for having a wife who supports and understands parenting sometimes means we would rather have Journey crying because she is upset with us than crying because mom and dad were too afraid to discipline her. By Saturday afternoon Journey was back to jumping on the couch once left alone with her mom. Just like her father some lessons take a few more tears to learn.

Jonathan Oliver is an experienced motivational speaker, life coach, and author.  He is the CEO of his company Higher Enlightenment which strives to create a world of truth, love, and faith.  He was born and raised in Texas and now lives with his wife and their first child Journey in Owasso, OK. He is a first time stay at home dad. His contact information is on www.higherenlightenment.com and follow him on facebook atwww.facebook.com/joyofjojo.

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