On discipline

If sleep was our million dollar question when we had an infant, discipline is the biggie now that we have a toddler. Since my initial love affair with time-outs in this post, I’ve decided that I want more options in my toolbox, and I’ve been trying other things I’ve been learning from reading the discipline chapter in Hold On to Your Kids. After a particularly despairing day, I’m casting out to see how you all think about discipline. How do you see the discipline strategies you use as fitting into your ongoing relationship with your kids?

p.s. There’s an awesome comment thread for this post at Get Born, a blog I write/video for.

4 thoughts on “On discipline

  1. My son is two months shy of 2 and we are in the thick of testing and tantrums so this post is so very timely. Especially regarding the overwhelm brought on by the various options that are available. I find myself backing away from all the written material out there (again) cuz I find it does undermine my confidence.

    I have been really framing my thoughts around this issue as “boundary setting” rather than “discipline”, per say. I’ve been trying to focus on setting consistent limits, reflecting and naming his emotions and modeling appropriate responses. As a child, I was always told to go to my room if I was having any sort of emotion other than a happy calm one. I grew up feeling disconnected from my parents and that their love was conditional. So in response, I feel it is just so important for me to validate my son for his entire gammut of emotions and not just the ones that are comfy to be around.

    I think that there is tremendous pressure for parents to have to ‘do’ something to our kids in response to what is perceived as bad behavior. Rather than accepting them for where they are at, consistently reminding them of what is acceptable and validating what they might be feeling.

    The only outside source I have been turning to lately is Janet Landsbury’s Elevating Chldcare blog. It follows Magda Gerber’s RIE approach and really resonates with me. Particularly this post:http://www.janetlansbury.com/2010/04/no-bad-kids-toddler-discipline-without-shame-9-guidelines/

    Thanks again for speaking your truth!

    1. I hear you, Cara! I feel the same way about wanting to validate Jonah’s emotions…and I had a bit of a breakthrough today. In talking to another friend about her daughter, I was able to explain something that I hadn’t before. I really think that we are emotional and behavioral umbrellas for our kids. We can validate their feelings AND at the same time say I know you’re frustrated but its not okay to hit and if you hit, here’s how we deal with that… I guess its not rocket science or anything, but it helps for me to remember my role. Sometimes I feel like I can get a bit lost validating him and forget that I am the adult, and responsible for interpreting the world for him and socializing him and showing him what is okay and good and comfortable and what is hurtful, scary, worrisome, etc.
      I’ll definitely check out the blog post you sent. Thank you. And if you do wind up checking out the Neufeld book, I’ll be curious to hear what you think of it.

  2. I just found your blog. I can relate so much to your discussion in the video. My son is 27 months old and a hitter. At daycare he is in a classroom with fellow hitters, and also biters and pushers. I adore his teachers and they have been really helping me deal with this stage. They keep reminding me that his hitting is not aggression, it is just him not being able to fully use his words yet. So when he hits, I try to focus on his feelings–what might be triggering the hitting. Right now he struggles with sharing toys with his classmates and his 10 month old sister–that is his main trigger for hitting. We say “no hitting” and “not nice”–but not sure he fully understands what all that means. We also try to divert his attention or remove him from the situation–take the “heat” off the situation. Timeouts have not worked–he just ends up treating it like a game.

    His teachers assure me that in a few months–around 3?–he will start to use and understand his words. Then more structured discipline/rewards will work better.

    By then, our 10 month old will be nearing this stage. lovely! Just hoping she is not a biter…

    1. Thanks for your comment, Christine. We’re taking the same approach with Jonah as far as helping him articulate the feelings behind the hitting. Just today at the park, he was pushing a boy next to him I walked over and asked Jonah if he pushed the boy because he wanted to use the steering wheel by himself. He said yes. And I said that instead of pushing he could say, “Please leave me alone.” He repeated that back to me. We’ll see. But it felt good. In large part, I think I had the patience and calm for that today because I had a good night’s sleep and a good time with a friend this morning. I also realized today at the park that because of Jonah’s hitting/biting/pushing I often forget to advocate for him when another kid is doing one of those things to him. A little boy did push him at the park today, and I felt good about walking up and asking Jonah if he was okay and then asking the little boy to please not hit Jonah because it hurts. It was a good experience to have because I realize how much time I spend correcting Jonah and it felt good to defend him! Also, major respect from me for being a mom of 2!

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