Lily has beautiful hair. Beautiful, thick, tangly, troublesome when you're tender-headed, hair. And sadly, it's turned into one of her deepest areas of self doubt, one time breaking down and crying that she hated her hair, herself, her everything. Just the other day, when wishing on a magic wand, I heard her whisper, "I wish for long, straight, beautiful hair."
And the thing is, I totally get it.
I remember hating my hair and wishing it was straight like most of the girls I knew. I remember despising how it tangled and dreading having the back brushed out, so much so that I once let a tangle grow to monster proportions and my mom had to cut most of it out.
As I got older, I grew to appreciate the loveliness that is naturally curly hair. I started understanding how far people would go to get what I woke up with. I started to see my hair as one of my greatest assets. Even now, with it going rapidly gray, I know it's the thing about me people notice and most often compliment.
But it took me a long time to get here and I don't doubt it'll take a long time for Lily as well.
Today I discovered a small pile of dark locks on my bedroom floor and more in the bathroom trash. I also discovered a cut rubber band and quickly surmised Lily had gotten into a pony-tail mishap and, instead of asking for help, had taken matters into her own hands. Walking into the next room, I called up to Lily (who was happily coloring in the crows nest), "Did you cut your hair?"
There was a bit of pause and then a half confident, "Um, no."
I made her come down and calmly showed her the hair in the trash. "Is this your hair?" I asked.
"So you lied to me."
"Would you like to tell me why you lied?"
"I thought I'd get in trouble for cutting it and I wanted to keep coloring."
"Yeah. See, I was only planning on asking you not to do that again and instead ask me for help if you get something stuck in your hair. Now I have to do something about the fact that you lied to me."
"I want to go color."
"I guess we know what your punishment is, then."
She burst into tears, refused to go to her room and I had to pick her up, flailing limbs and all, and take her into her room. And here's where I ran into a ideological conundrum (which is SO the name of my next band): when a child is freaking out and refusing to submit to the punishment assigned, what do you do?
Here's what came out of my mouth: "Lily, you have a choice to make. You can get into your bed and stay there until I come get you, or you can have a spanking. I don't want to spank you. I hate the idea of it, but I don't know what to do if you will not do as asked. Please don't make me spank you."
Thankfully, she was frightened enough of that big unknown that she complied with my original punishment. I really did not want to have to carry through on that threat.
So here's where I turn to my readers and ask, how do you get an emotional child to comply without resorting to threats of violence? I need some ideas because what I did today did not feel good and I'd like to avoid it in the future.