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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Disciplining Your Toddler

As you all know I read What to Expect the Toddler Years every month to see where Kye stands compared to the "norm" with developmental things. I also read the chapter associated with the current month to pick up some parenting tips for how to manage his age at that time. Usually it's some pretty helpful stuff! This month the chapter put a big focus on discipline so I thought I'd share some excerpts from it here with you and then I will be posting an entry on why Zach and I discipline the way we do tomorrow.

The word discipline comes from the Latin word "to teach" and originally had nothing to do with rules, punishment, or the inflicting of pain. Toddlers need discipline so they will gain an understanding of the concept of right and wrong. They learn this through both what you do and what you say. They also need discipline to help plant the seeds of self-control. If nurtured faithfully, these seeds will become the roots in your child's behavior. The third reason a toddler needs discipline is to teach respect for the rights and feelings of others so that they will grow from a self-centered toddler into a compassionate and caring child and adult. Discipline will also increase a toddler's chances of growing up to be a happy adult as an undisciplined child is often in for a rude awakening and a lot of unhappiness when they enter into the real world. Finally, discipline is important for a toddler for your home and your sanity both now and in the many mischief-laden years that lie ahead.

I agree with everything in the paragraph above! Discipline is CRITICAL in raising a well-rounded, happy, child and adult. There are several pages covering things to keep in mind when disciplining a toddler. It's all pretty obvious stuff like every kid is different, kids need limits, make sure they know you love them just not their actions, consistency is key, etc. The only really good thing I picked up on was to make sure to discipline face-to-face and not from across the room because it isn't as effective. I also liked how it talked about the importance of positive reinforcement and the idea to change a "no" to a "yes." I will start using this one pronto! Instead of just saying "no sir you can't play with the tv" I should also say "but you can play with your golf clubs." Great idea! Another thing I agree with is treating children with respect as so often it's easy to just think they are "babies" ya know? It's hard not to get frustrated with Kye when I can't understand him but I have to remember that he's probably even MORE frustrated than I am with it.

The next section is titled "disciplining techniques that work" I agree that some of them do work, I agree that others are joke...
  • catch your child being good: reward the good things your toddler does! pay attention to them when they are behaving and not just misbehaving. I 100% agree on this and cannot STAND those "I think my name is no-no" shirts. 
  • make the punishment fit the crime: pretty obvious but your kid won't "get it" if he uses his crayon to draw on the walls and then you take away tv privileges as punishment. I mean duh people!
  • let your child suffer natural consequences of the crime: If the dog eats the cookie because the child threw it on the floor then he lost his cookie. If you give the child another cookie then he isn't learning that important lesson that all actions have consequences. Love this!
  • consider time-out: the idea behind time-out is to allow an out-of-control toddler to cool down and regain control. The little mini-section on how to properly give your child a time-out is over a page long. Doesn't that say something? If it's very complicated, will it be effective? I'm not going to take up my entry space trying to cover all the little tips about how to do time-out...if you wanna read it starts on page 127 :)
  • give fair warning: This is the "if you don't stop by the time I count to three..." idea. Really? What happens when you count to three? The kid continues to do whatever it is they are doing UNTIL you reach three and then they stop. Or they know you won't do crap when you get to three so they keep going. OR you warn them like 5 times, THEN count to three which makes it like their 6th warning instead of the count starting right when they begin the bad behavior. Can you tell this is mine and Zach's disciplining pet-peeve? Somethings I give no warning at all, Kye knows better about somethings and needs punishment right then in the act. Other things my warning will be given, but trust me it's a warning with a lesson and it's a ONE time warning and that's it!
  • explain the sentence: Always offer a simple explanation when you discipline. To us, this is CRITICAL even throughout the teenage years when disciplining..otherwise why discipline if they won't learn anything?
  • carry out the sentence immediatley: Toddlers have short memory-spans, you gotta strike when the iron is hot!
  • reprise the story: after the punishment you review the reasons why the punishment occurred with them and have them explain to you what they did wrong. I kinda see this working, but I feel like our method of discipline covers this within it.
  • forgive and forget: what parent doesn't immediately go back to thinking their kid is the cutest thing on earth after they discipline them? we can't help it and I doubt any of you guys struggle with that :)
My favorite (sarcasm) part of this discipline chapter is a good lead-in to my next post about The Parker Discipline Method :) It's a section allllll about some spanking (or at least all the "bad" about spanking). It says that experts agree that spanking is not effective (seriously?). Instead of learning right from wrong children that are spanked only learn to differentiate between what they got spanked for and don't get spanked for and rarely learn self-discipline (again, seriously?). Children who are spanked are more likely to use physical force against peers and later against their own children (maybe they see spanking works so they spank their children too). Spanking is humiliating and demeaning to both the parent and child, often shattering self-esteem and moral (have you met my husband? Def not lacking in the self-esteem area...). It is certainly more cruelly calculated and, in the long run less effective in correcting behavior, since the punishment is so far removed from the offense (I'm just such a cruel and horrible person aren't I?). Most child abusers inflict physical punishment either out of anger or because they believe they are doing it for the child's benefit (child's benefit: check). But anything more than a smack on the bottom, well-padded with a diaper, can injure a child (Kye seems perfectly fine to me!). Even something as seemingly harmless as shaking can cause serious damage to the child and certainly using a belt, ruler (paint stick?) or other weapon is extremely dangerous. If you ever feel like you can't control yourself or want to strike your child, get help immediately (wow).

Ugh!!!! Reading all of that seriously gets my blood boiling! I get WHY they have to say it because you can't judge someones self-control and there ARE parents out there that would smack their kid upside the head every time they took a wrong step but to go so clearly against God's Word is just so frustrating for me! Honestly, if I hadn't already done all these months of Kye's life with this book I'd dump it in the trash. I'm that upset about it and bothered by it. I know there are MANY, MANY wrong ways to spank a child. But there is a RIGHT way to do it and it isn't fair that this book doesn't even attempt to discuss the proper way to spank.

I'm trying to remember all the other things I DID agree with in this chapter as there were some valuable lessons! I hope I haven't offended any of you with my opinions on discipline but it's something Zach and I both feel strongly about and if you're already bothered by this post then you may not want to read my next one :)

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