Thursday, January 17, 2008

Evolving Discipline

Kat over on The Secret Life of Kat is hosting Parents University on Thursdays. Today is the first session and the topic is the big D word----Discipline. So I thought I would put in my two cents. Oh and don't forget to head on over to Kat's Blog to read the other great advice from other more seasoned parents than I!!

(Disclaimer: I have only been a parent for 2 years and 3 months so my advice on discipline and parenting in general is solely based on 1) common sense, and 2) what I have learned to work for us in these 2 years. So, if you have an older child my "two cents" may not apply to you, and you may think I'm naive because I haven't "been there" yet! So, take it for what it is! And I hope it will help someone out there to think about their discipline tactics!!)

Now in no way am I an expert on discipline and I believe that there are no hard and fast rules because every child is different and every parent has a different parenting style. But I would like to tell you what we have done and learned in these 2 years of having our son.

When Blue-Eyed Boy was first beginning to exert his independence...and be naughty...we decided that we would avoid using "no" as much as possible. The "no" would be reserved for those things that were truly important that he understand not to do....things that could injure him (touching the stove for example), or were just big huge no-no's for our household (throwing food for example). Instead we would say "please don't touch that". This has been beneficial, I believe, because now that Blue-Eyed Boy is 2 and getting really adventurous when I do say "no" he immediately stops what he is doing. For example: he is very much into climbing (what 2 year old boy isn't?) and he decided that he was going to take our laundry basket turn it upside down and then put his empty Lego box on top of that and climb on top. When I saw what he was doing I said "no, [Blue-Eyed Boy] that's not safe" and he immediately got down and didn't try to do it again (which doesn't always happen!).

As Blue-Eyed Boy started getting older our discipline methods have evolved and grew with him. When he was just becoming mobile (walking at 9 months!) we would remove him from situations that we didn't want him to be in. We would tell him not to touch and then move him on to a toy or something else to play with.

The biggest evolution happened when telling him to "be gentle" stopped working. He would bite me and hit me which before we only had to say "be gentle" and he would stop or a hit would become a tap. Eventually however, he began to bite harder, and hit harder when we asked him to be "gentle". So, we tried the "that hurts" (he just laughed), biting him back (laughed and then bit me harder!), etc, etc, etc. We tried everything and anything people told us to do. But in the end what did the trick was time-outs. He had a little stool in a corner. I would give him a warning, then if he repeated the offense he was put in the chair for 1 minute per year of age. He would cry and cry and scream and get up, but I kept putting him back until the kitchen timer went off. Once his time-out was over I would say we don't hit/bite mommy that hurts. Are you sorry? He would then proceed to throw himself into my arms (he didn't start really talking until he was about 22 months). And then we would proceed with our day. After doing time-outs for one day he has never bitten me or hit me again.

I think the most important thing to remember when disciplining your child is to make sure the punishment matches the offense. And also that it is age-appropriate. What I mean by that is...a one year old understands much less than a 3 year old so we must take that into consideration.

I believe the best help with discipline is pouring vast amounts of love and attention into your children so that they don't want to displease you. I don't know if I'm saying that right, but I hope you understand what I mean. Children tend to misbehave when they want your attention. And if they get an abundance of your attention then they are less likely to "act-up" to get that much sought after attention. Spending time with your children is not just beneficial to them, it is also beneficial to you as well!

Anyways...I hope my little ramblings on discipline may help you to think about your own approach to discipline!

Happy Thursday and Happy parenting!!


Kat said...

Wow. That's a really great post, Jessica.


I'm inspired and challenged to be a better mom tomorrow.

I really like your use of the word no.

I think I'm going to have to start taking notes...

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