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Discipline for Preschoolers
Greetings, everybody! My family and I recently moved rather far away from the Bay Area, and I really miss it. So does my child. I think that's the crux of this, but I still don't quite know what to do. My 3 year old is unnaturally attuned to my ''happiness'' -- so much so, if I reprimand her, she cries and wails, ''I just want you to be happy!''
It's our fault. My husband and I have been really, really stressed about this move, and between the dislocation and the arguments, our daughter is rather anxious herself. Fair enough. We know this and are addressing it as best we can -- no more arguing, we actively lower the stress level, lots of quality activities together, attention paid to her (and each other), etc. But how do I discipline her? Even better, how do I reprimand her without invoking my ''unhappiness''? She is 3, she needs the occasional reprimand, and the stern voice muct come out, but what can I do when my tightly-strung little girl weeps at my slightest show of displeasure?
And, of course, this is maddening because I am stressed out about this whole move (we moved overseas), and can't always play Mary Poppins for my kid. Fair enough not to snipe at Daddy in her presence, but... I can't be smiley all the time. And it is all the time, as I am a SAHM. Some times I am not happy, some times I am just weary, and some times I'm perfectly cheerful. But she pitches a hairy fit, and I end up feeling awful because my kid is weeping, ''Please be happy, Mommy, I want you to be happy,'' just because I told her she needed a time out.
It's heart-breaking. And it's not as if I've been a raving lunatic, that she's so worried I'll explode. I'm just not sure what this is, but I don't know quite what to do about it. Help! ololon
It would be helpful if you would take your child out to a playground and have a great day. Then sit down with a picnic and explain that moving has been hard on everyone. That while you may be sad, you have been sad before and you know that this is just temporary. You may even describe a time when you were sad because a class was too hard or someone took something from you. Then talk about how it worked out to be okay. Then be honest and say that there are times to talk about being sad and there are times when you need to teach your child how to behave.
It sound's like your child is very intelligent. Explain that when there are consequences to her misbehavior, it is not the time to talk about being sad. I personally do not believe in time outs for kids. I believe in time outs for toys - you throw a toy and the toy needs to be put up for an hour because the proper use of toys is not throwing them.
It also sounds like you're too invested in whether she's happy, sad, nervous, etc. These are her feelings to work out. In the middle of weeping may be the time to say ''I can see you're sad.'' It is not the best time to explore why she's sad. She needs space physical and psychic to learn to control her own emotions. Three year old feelings are huge.
In my experience three year olds cry a lot - it's like it lets off some steam or pressure. By the way they call it terrible 2s because it lasts for two years not because it's for two year olds. Mom of a Sensitive Daughter Also
Respond neutrally but firmly, sticking to the subject at hand: ''More important than making me happy is to make good decisions, such as not flinging the paint around the room or crossing the street without looking'' (or whatever the issue is).
Children use things because they know they can trigger us. Take away the trigger (even if you fake your neutrality), and the manipulation stops working and fizzles out. anon
Luckily you don't have to make her cry to teach her the difference between right and wrong! Have you read ''Unconditional Parenting''? It's a difficult book in some ways -- the author is against both bribes and punishment as child-rearing methods, so it's totally different from anything I'd ever read before. Basically, the author is against anything we as parents do that makes our children feel that our love for them is conditional upon their *behavior*. This means no ''love removal'' strategies such as time-outs, ignoring the child, or stern voices or spanking. Also, no ''bribery'' techniques like sticker charts, treats for good behavior, or saying ''Good job!''
The problem is supposed to be that your child will learn that you only love them when they're good. That's a lot of pressure. Sure, *we* know we love them all the time, but do *they* know it from our behavior? Some very convincing studies show that they do not.
Best of luck to you. Your daughter sounds like a remarkable little girl, and I hope you can nurture her gentle spirit. Trying out unconditionality
I eagerly read each reply to the Discipline 101 question as I feel I’ve gotten off track on some of the basics. There are 2 issues I’m hoping to get some guidance and perspective from experienced, been-there-done-that parents. I have a 5 ˝ y.o. boy & a 3 y.o girl.
One issue has to do with getting what I call “sassy” toward us and other adults. It happens most often when we’re disciplining them, making requests/setting limits, or just out of the blue when they’re feeling rambunctious. It’s gotten out of hand lately because they encourage eachother. I’ll say “time to go” and my son will stick out his tongue or say “ok pee pee.” Or he’ll imitate the question or say in a silly voice “no, I’m not doing it!” He’ll do what I say (I always follow through) but he’ll be sassy along the way. He’s quickly teaching my daughter. My sense is that this is totally unacceptable, partly because I’m absolutely not comfortable with it myself and partly because I am certain it won’t fly with other people. I’m asking you all because it’s become a big, frequent battle that’s straining our time together.
The other issue has to do with how rambunctious they get. We’re by no means the serious, children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard parents, but our kids are often the ones at parties that take it to the highest level of rowdy. Other kids seem to have a stopping point (they’ll be playing instruments and within a very short time they’ll be playing as loud as possible just for the sake of it) We’ll try to redirect them but it’s a matter of time before it gets high-energy. They do the same thing at home, getting so wound up at meals they forget about eating (we separate them now). They march through the house and within 2 minutes they’re running full speed so we’ll send them to the yard or playroom. We’ll burn energy at the park and they’ll still fall into it instantly at home. This is only a problem when the two of them are together.
It seems to me these two tendencies are like entertainment for them – pushing the limits to see how and when we’ll intervene. The fact that we’re not crystal clear on how to think about it is making things worse. So far they’ve been battles we’ve chosen to fight but there are so many gray areas so I’m hoping for some clear guidelines. Thank you! bugbees
Help! Our nearly four year old daughter has had a personality change. First, I should note that we have consistently had a challenge with hitting (me and my husband) that we've had a hard time nipping in the bud. We were having some success, but then the problem returned after she spent a week at grandma's. She has started ignoring us when we talk to her, refusing to do basics like getting dressed, and hitting and kicking. The really tough part that is new is that any trips to the time out have turned into laughing fits on her part. She thinks it is hilarious to kick and hit all the way to the corner, run out repeatedly. Time outs seems to make things worse. It's all a game at this point. I am at my wits end about what to do. I admit that I've resorted to a swat or two, which seems completely ineffective. I've tried toy confiscation with some success. Please help! bewildered mom
It sounds like your daughter is getting a jump start on the fours.
People warn you about 2 and its difficulties, no one says anything about the joys of a four-year old! Four is 'two with attitude.' Four was really tough for me with my first son because I was wondering where my sweet little boy went. My son has always had a temper, but never long crazy temper-tantrum without end. So when the troubles of four arrived, I just didn't know what to do! I thought I was a total failure as a parent when nothing worked--not even time out. Potty talk was a big thing with my kid--and this really bugged me! So what worked?
Realizing that this was just a phase--my son did outgrow it and is now a five year old who is mostly polite and doesn't like to be 'in trouble.' Knowing that this was a normal part of the preschooler trying to control his world helped A LOT.
Using timers and other things as the rule enforcer, not me or my husband. If he wouldn't pick up his toys or something I would set the timer--if the requested actin or behavior wasn't accomplished by the time it buzzed, the toys would be mine or something else would happen--he would go straight to bed or whatever. Usually just the action of setting the time would help!
Hitting and biting are hard. My son wasn't really big into this but I think I would just make my hand flat (like with horses and dogs) and block myself with the flat hand so he couldn't bite me--there was so 'part' sticking out that he could sink those sharp little teeth into. I would say once ''we don't bite/hit'' in a really freaky boring definite tone (sharp tone?) and then, ignore him. I explained to him that I wasn't going to give him negative attention, (when the drama was over) and would just leave the room or get away from him until he was nice again. four is difficult!
When my 4-year-old behaves aggressively, it usually is because one of his needs is unmet. Sometimes, he is tired or hungry or scared. Other times, it just means that he needs attention (something all human beings crave). Have you tried sitting down with her and re-connecting with her when she acts like this? It sounds simple but works wonders with my little guy. I ask him what is going on and what he is feeling when he acts like that. Then, I respond to THAT. Not the misbehavior but the feelings underlying it.
Another recommendation I have is to check out motheringdotcommune, an online message board. Their gentle- discipline forum is chalk-full of amazing, insightful and, above all, respectful and gentle discipline techniques. I have learned so much there.
Four can be a challenging age, for sure. Hang in there and resolve to teach your child non-violently and respectfully. You can do it! Gentle Discipliner
My strong willed (and somewhat ''spoiled'' - my mom's word) 3 1/2 year old is disobedient. He is very contrary and likes to challenge my authority. He is especially challenging in public -- sometimes he'll just lie down if he doesn't get his way -- it can be embarrassing, he also stands on furniture at someone's house and won't get down unless I drag him or he will not leave a playground or something he really enjoys without me begging him and pleading and promising a treat (these are not frequent occurences but they do happen sometimes). He is aggressive with other children and has a hard time refraining from pushing them (on a bad day). He finds ways of controlling us through tears, pouting, etc. I am beginning to think that he truly needs an occasional spanking (believe me I've tried the gentler methods but they don't work i.e., positive reinforcement, warnings, threats,). Recently I've given him a hand spank on the bottom (after several warnings), he sometimes laughs and pretends to spank himself. If I give him a harder spank he will settle down and obey. I hate the thought of spanking and have been philosophically opposed to it (plus it just seems politically incorrect) but frankly the talking doesn't seem effective. I feel he is a little out of hand and wild. I know he needs more discipline, I just don't know of other options. Any suggestions would be helpful. He is also resentful about the divorce I am going through and the attention that his sibling is receiving (who is younger). Thanks. dawn
My husband and I decided we had had enough and agreed on a non- tolerance policy in our house for bad manners and rude behavior. We explained to our son that we absolutely were not going to tolerate the behavior any more. We explained in detail what bad manners looks like. We also gave him examples of alternative good manners. We explained that bad manners require some punishment, like putting away his Legos for a period of time.
When he heard all this he was not happy and began crying and being disrespectful to his dad. I felt strongly that we should not physically abandon him or treat him as if he was bad, we kept focusing on the behavior. I held him as he sobbed. I explained that he needed to tell his father he was sorry. He refused. I explained there would be consequences. He told me to put his Legos away. This went on for a while with me alternately trying to arouse some sympathy in him or threatening to put away more toys. After nearly 2 hours (this took real commitment on our part) I told him I was going to pack up all his books (his favorite things). He screamed for me not to. I gave him one more chance to apologize and he did! Quite honestly, I don?t know what I would have done if the books had not compelled him to comply.
Immediately, and for about 3 weeks now, he has seemed like a new child. He is outgoing, he greets his friends with a ?Hello? and a hug. He hugs and kisses my husband and me. He is happier than I?ve ever seen him. He talks and sings more. He asks if this or that is good manners. When I point out that something that he is doing is bad manners, he usually stops. We still have our moments, but I?d say they have diminished by at least 90%. I?m shocked at the transformation and wonder if he also achieved some developmental milestone. But in the end, I believe that he now understands his boundaries in feels more secure and therefore happier. It is also much easier and more pleasant to be with him, so I am happier, less tired and a more fun parent.
I can?t speak to your separation from your husband. However, I can see that having these boundaries and having had this discussion with our son allows him a context within which to discuss his feelings and how these feelings are connected to his behavior.
Best wishes, Been There
Those are big issues. Toddlers need to know that you're in charge because if mommy isn't, who is? They test boundaries because that's the only way for them to figure out what the boundaries are. It sounds like your authority has been undermined for him and he's looking for just who is in charge.
My advice: If he's controlling you it's because you're letting him do so. You're the parent - be patient, be loving, be intolerant of inappropriate behavior. It's tough sometimes but caving into his demands now will undermine his coping skills and cause greater problems later. anon
Two things I've actually done that seemed to ''help'' - during my son's screaming tantrums in his room, when closing the doors only increased the volume, I went in his room and screamed with him. I told him his screaming was making me so upset I needed to scream too. I also showed him how to hit his pillow to release more frustration. It worked for me and surprised him so much he stopped and we were able to talk about the whole thing calmly. The next time he had a regular old ''You can't make me, I don't want to'' tantrum, I copied him - got on the floor and repeated what he said and did. Again, he stopped dead and stared at me and tried his hardest not to smile. And then we talked a lot more calmly.
Obviously these are not methods to do in public (well, might be
less embarrassing than hitting...), but it sure helps to release
that scary tension and anxiety over what to possibly do next to
get the bad behavior to stop. But sometimes ya gotta do what ya
gotta do - and I'd rather laugh than cry in retrospect over
something I did in public.
Another Worn Out Mom
He does not need a spanking - he needs to connect with you. Kids do not want to make their parent's lives a living hell - that is our adult bias - they really simply want to please us and they can't act ''better'' unless they feel good.
Have you read ''Kids Are Worth It''? I would heartily recommend it as an introduction to why punishment doesn't work. Then I'd move on to other books with specific tools ''Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline'' comes to mind.
Positive parenting is not about getting kids to mind and making immediate behaviour changes; it is about instilling a good sense of self esteem and internal behaviour modification. Kathy
As we navigate the waters of parenting with our 4 year old, gleaning advice from multiple sources, trying to find the healthiest, sanest, most sensible methods for dealing with the difficult moments, my partner and I too often find ourselves in a blind corner that I have yet to read about.
Here's the scenario: Child does something bad (i.e. hits sibling, or runs away in public, or won't get ready for bed). Parent sets limits and explains appropriate consequences (calmly, firmly - i.e. time out or removal from scene or no reading). Child repeats bad thing. Parent acts appropriately. But THEN child responds with behavior that is WORSE than the original offense.
What then? It becomes a different issue at that point. How do you teach a pre-schooler that if they have to deal with consequences, and the response to the the pre-explained consequence is NOT screaming, throwing toys, hitting parent, etc? How do you do a time out on top of a time out? Leave the park and leave...again?? Not read and... not read?
We have found ourselves in this situation too many times now, and that's where we always find the yelling and sometimes ludicrous stuff (''Fine, I'll remove ALL your toys!!) and sometimes scary stuff (grabbing, threats) starts. We try and anticipate, take that deeper breath, dig deep for our emergency reserves... but usually we're exhausted in every way.
Help!! What book, seminar, advice deals with that? Need your tips and tricks, please! Exhausted
Consistency seems to be the most important thing--- Never give in to crying for things, or they will never stop.
I wish you lots of luck! anon
My husband and I want very much not to spank or hit our 2 1/2 year old daughter. But lately that is proving harder and harder. She has been becoming increasingly moody, whiney and clingy since early last month, I guess. For the past week, though, she's been at her worst thus far. She gets angry for seemingly no reason, shouts at whoever is around, runs away, hits things, herself or me, throws thing and slams her bedroom door. She's also gotten very good at ignoring us, me, her mother, especially.
Example: I tried to check her diaper for poop this morning to which she told me, ''Alone!'' (leave me alone), then went over to the computer and put her finger up to push the on/off button. I immediately told her no and not to do that, but she did anyway. I wanted so much at that moment to spank her butt! But I held back and just yelled NO and I TOLD YOU NOT TO DO THAT at her instead. Of course she got upset and ran away from me.
I honestly don't know what to do to discipline or punish her. Time outs are almost fruitless because I have to physically make her stay wherever it is I'm trying to give her a time out, so she's just whining and squirming to get away. When she did something else naughty after turning off the computer, I stopped the video she was watching for a while. Taking something away is the only thing I've been able to come up with, besides my instant urge to whack her backside.
can anyone out there relate to this behavior and shed some light on the whys and hows to deal with it properly? Sometimes I feel like I'm doing everything wrong, like she wouldn't behave so badly if I were a better mother. I hate that feeling more than anything! Also, we're going to visit my Mother-in-Law this month and I so don't want them to think she's the devil's child!
Trying to discipline a two year old is something different from disciplining an older child. I don't believe spanking is ever appropriate. In fact, I think it would make things worse, for you and your child.
Try calling your pediatrician for advice first. That way, you might feel more connected to another important person in the child's life, and it would give YOU some support, too.
Then, I would suggest reading some information about toddlers' developmental process first, and then books about discipline. I like T. Barry Brazelton and the Sears folks on both. They seem to have a good balance, that the parent needs to set limits, but also that the limits aren't going to work if they aren't appropriate to the child's developmental stage.
Finally, it sounds like you need a break. Make sure you are taking care of yourself, too, so that you can give to the child what she needs at this dynamic and exciting stage in her life. anon.
1. Don't take yourself so seriously. With my first child, I needed to do everything ''right'' and she had to be ''good.'' With my second child, I learned to lighten up a bit and relax. Relax! It's okay.
2. Try making ''discipline'' a game. For example, you mention the diaper incident. One thing that really works with my kids is to tell them, ''Whatever you do, DON'T let me change your diaper!'' Kids love this. When she comes over to you, say something like, ''Okay, I'm going to hug you, but I am NOT going to change your diaper! No way!'' Smile as you are doing this, so she knows you are teasing. Even as she lets you change her diaper, keep saying things like, ''Boy, I am sure glad Lizzy doesn't have a poopie diaper! I am sure glad Lizzy doesn't want me to change her diaper!'' You can even pretend that you don't know where she is, even as you are changing her. ''Hmmm, I wonder where Lizzy is? She must be hiding!'' After you have finished, seem surprised that you have changed her diaper and say something like, ''Hey! What are you doing here?'' and add a tickle.
3. I try to remember to remove the object or remove the child, rather than trying to get the child to remember that she is not supposed to touch something. Remember, just because you said that she could not touch the computer yesterday does not mean that is true for today. Can you put a chair in front of the computer? Tape? A piece of fabric? I would try to not make a big deal about it, and simply pick her up, give her a kiss, and say something like, ''Oh, remember, only mommy can touch the computer. You can touch the T.V. changer/mommy's purse/the vaccum'' and so on. Then move on and offer to read her a book or something. I think it helps to tell kids what they CAN do, rather than what they cannot do. Or, tell them what kind of behavior you WANT, rather than what you don't want.
4. Since I am signing this without my name, I will add that my second child is a lot nicer to be around and easy going than my first. I can't help but think that it is because I am so much nicer to the second one. I am more relaxed, more understanding, less rigid, and so on with the second one. I use gentle reminders, such as, ''remember, we must speak nicely to each other'' or ''Oh, I don't like that voice you are using to speak to me. Would you like to try again?'' If she says no, I do not get mad, I simply say, ''Okay. I will listen to you when you are ready,'' to which she always replies, ''Okay, I am ready now!'' I have NEVER spanked the 3 1/2 year old, and the few times I have swatted the seven year old have felt horrible. It has not helped, I have felt totally depressed, and he looks devestated. It is not worth it, and it does not work. I think hugs and kisses work a lot better; it is just remembering to do it!
Good luck. And brace yourself: Age three is more challenging than age two! Been there, too
That said, according to my husband's wishes we are not spanking. The main reason I am going along with this is that I recognize in myself that some of my urge to spank is anger and frustration, and I don't want to be hitting my child out of anger. We also agree he is going through an important stage right now (almost 3), where he is trying to be more independent, and is dealing with a new sibling. My husband thinks if we can get through this stage without spanking, we'll all the better for it, and will have taught him important lessons.
My advice would be, if you think there are no other better alternatives in certain kinds of discipline situations (that you have thought out in advance, like the one I described above), and when you find yourselves in that situation you can react calmly and without anger and give a warning (as in, ''If you do that again, I'm going to spank you''), I think you could spank with impunity.
Anonymous, of course, in this day and age!
I try to be consistent in reacting to her behavior, and try to keep that consistent with how she is expected to behave at preschool (you did not mention if your daughter goes to school, but I think this makes a huge difference in learning consistent behavior and communication and social skills). After the throwing-my-glasses incident, she is always polite when she asks to hold my glasses and gives them back as soon as I ask for them. She has gotten timeouts for hitting her brother and for slamming doors. She took her timeout in her stroller, parked on the side of the couch. For spitting or throwing food, I took the food away. For hitting a teacher at preschool, she had a timeout at school and was not allowed to play with her dolls at home that evening.
Basically I think she is at a testing stage. She learns that whatever action is not acceptable and she doesn't do it again. I make sure she knows exactly what she did to receive the punishment. I remind her that she must have good manners if she wants to do whatever (go to a restaurant, park, etc).
I think kids will keep testing if there are no consequences, and kids want to know their boundaries. If they have no clear boundaries they will keep pushing. anon
Our son, who is 5 now, gave us a real run for our money at about 2.5. A couple of times he drove me absolutely up a wall. One time I did spank him, even though my wife and I agreed that we weren't going to. A couple of other times I wound up picking him up and being (what I felt later) as being too rough. It wasn't that I physically hurt him, but I realized later that an accident could have easily occurred and he could have been injured.
The time I spanked him - and almost all the other times when things got out of hand - he thought it was a game (which made me even more angry). Here's where we went:
Time Outs - this was very bad in the beginning. We would put him in time out and he just wouldn't go. Finally we resorted to physically pinning him to the bed. A couple of times we closed the doors to his room and my wife and I had to hold the doors closed (two different doors) while he banged and screamed on the other side. He is quite physical and a couple of times my wife simply couldn't handle him. More than once I had to lie on top of him to get him to stop fighting. Since then the need for time- outs has diminished and they are never so physical. When he's resistant to time-outs we have resorted to:
No More Videos - one day, quite by accident, I threatened to throw out all of his videos if he didn't cooperate (he's allowed 1/2 hour per day). This has worked like a charm. It's like kryptonite. Once or twice early on I have had to put all the videos in a paper bag and take them out on to the porch and threatened to throw them away. Now we often hold the priveldge of watching video over his head if he is not being cooperative. We seldom have had to threaten to throw them away. This has been VERY successful and I'm surprised how well it still works.
My rules for myself are the following -
1) If I feel like I'm getting too angry I don't do anything physical - it's just too risky - physically and psychologicaly. If I feel like I'm in control (which doesn't mean I'm not angry) then I will pick him up and put him on his bed. We don't have to ''sit on him'' anymore or threaten to do so - We only had to do this a couple of times so that he got the picture. And most importantly - the pinning him down was always controled and never felt dangerous. I will tag team my wife (or she me) if things are getting too wild.
2) I require my wife to take an active role in this sort of discipline. It just seems to make sense so that he doesn't associate this behaviour with just me as the father. She is totally supportive and we are in total agreement about the way to handle him.
3) I followed up each unpleasant episode (and any of this kind of physicality was unpleasant) with a conversation with my son. For the few times that I had felt like things were getting out of control I appoligized to him. I will explain to him in clear and simple terms that his behaviour can't be tolerated and that I don't like to get physical, and that I would rather talk to him if things are going south.
It's about setting limits and the video thing proves this to me. The threat to thow away the videos is not why he's stopping. It's because he knows that this is the limit, he's reached it, and he doesn't want to go any further. (I can't wait to see what happens when he really tests that limit :) ).
Spanking didn't work at all with him - he thought it was funny, and there was no way I was going to up the ante - too scary.
The pinning him down was very effective, and very unpleasant (to us - he seemed to recover quite quickly). I want to re-iterate that this was done carefully, I was angry sometimes, but very much in control of the anger, we only had to do this a handful of times (enough that he knew we were serious).
My father chased me around with a belt a couple of times. My mother did the ''Wait till your father gets home'' thing a few times. These were very unpleasant episodes which really hurt my relationship with both of them.
So in closing (I didn't mean for this to be so long). I think you have to engage - that's what they want, locking yourself in your room to wait it out is not a good option (in my opinion). You have to set limits - that's what they want. If they want to get physical, you'll have little choice but to get physical as well - but be very careful, don't be angry and remember that you weigh a lot more than they do. If you have the luxury of tag- teaming with your mate, that works well too. There have been plenty of instances where my wife was on the recieving end and she called me in because she was just going to blow and I was able to come in cooly and calmly and apply the right amount of force for the right reasons. She has done the same for me.
If it gets to be too much I would seek professional advice quickly.
Good luck, dan
I don't support spanking because I feel that children learn more by example than anything. Spanking will teach your child to fear you and that the bigger person gets their way and that hitting is a way to deal with problems. My father spanked me and I can tell you that the main lesson I learned was to fear men. This did not serve me well later in life when trying to negotiate with 2 powerful male business partners!
I also notice in your description that you get angry at your child and raise your voice (understandable). I would like you to consider, though, that when she gets angry and storms away, that she may be matching your behavior and your energy when dealing with conflict.
Anyway, I have been following guidance from a system called Non- violent communication (NVC) that has a parent's practice group in Oakland. I have learned so much and have found that the trust an cooperation between my son and I has really blossomed. The system emphasizes having power WITH your children rather than power OVER them. This doesn't mean being permissive, but it does mean understanding their feelings and needs and understanding your own, and then going from there.
Some things that come to mind that have been helpful for me: 1) In these moments can you take a breath and give yourself a little empathy? For example: ''I am feeling so frustrated because my need for calm and quiet isn't being met!'' (or your need for acceptance from your in laws?). Giving yourself empathy can center and calm you and your child will then be calmer too. Then 2) Can you also ask yourself what needs your child is trying to meet? For example: my son used to throw food at the dinner table. I would immediately jump to thinking ''He's trying to disobey me or is disrespecting me'' But then when I took a moment to look I realized that no, he actually has a need to experiment with throwing things and doesn't realize that we don't throw food at the table. Later we threw balls outside and I also calmly explained that we don't throw food at the table. If he did continue to throw food (meeting his need for autonomy, perhaps?) I would immediately remove him from the table. But calmly. A simple cause and effect lesson.
To learn more about NVC for parents: http://www.cnvc.org/parents.htm anon
I recommend getting a book or two and reading up on techniques to help you train and teach your child without getting angry, using spanking, or feeling incompetent. One I like is ''Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood'' (or something like that). The books on ''Positive Discipline'' (there are a number of different ones) are also pretty good. There are plenty of others; go to the library or log onto Amazon and find one or two that seem to fit your style. Good luck! Holly
I would suggest a combination of email lists dedicated to discipline (one such is a Positive Discipline yahoo group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PositiveParenting-Discipline/?yguid=73437966) and book reading. There are also numerous online websites dedicated to parenting gently; respectfully and without violence.
Here are some books to check out
Smart love : the compassionate alternative to discipline that will make you a better parent and your child a better person / Martha Heineman Pieper and William J. Piep
Nonviolent Communication : A Language of Compassion -- Marshall B. Rosenberg
Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach -- Howard Glasser, Jennifer Easley Easy to love, difficult to discipline : the seven basic skills for turning conflict into cooperation / Becky A. Bailey.
''Siblings Without Rivalry'' by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish ''How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk'' by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish ''Is This Your Child?'' by Doris Rapp ''The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families'' by Stephen R. Covey ''Raising Your Spirited Child'' by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka ''Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles'' by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka ''Kids Are Worth It'' by Barbara Coloroso ''When Anger Hurts Your Kids'' by McKay, Fanning, Paleg & Landis ''The 5 Love Languages of Children'' by Gary D. Chapman & Ross Campbell ''Protecting the Gift'' by Gavin de Becker ''Nighttime Parenting'' by William Sears, MD & Martha Sears, RN ''Parent Effectiveness Training'' by Dr. Thomas Gordon ''Mothering Multiples'' by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada ''Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child'' by Katie Allison Granju. ''Baby Days: Activities, Ideas, and Games for Enjoying Daily Life With a Child Under Three'' by Barbara Rowley ''Positive Discipline'' by Jane Nelsen (with the caveot that her advice for infants and toddlers is NOT AP) ''The Explosive Child'' by Dr. Ross Greene ''Living with the Active Alert Child'' by Dr Linda S. Budd ''The Edison Trait'' by Lucy Jo Palladino ''How To Really Love Your Child'' by Ross Campbell ''Liberated Parents, Liberated Children: Your Guide To A Happier Family'' by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish ''Giving The Love That Heals: A Guide for Parents'' by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt ''Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma'' by Nancy SamalinKathy
I found that overall when I rewarded and paid attention to the positive that this always worked in favor of good behavior. When I only focused on what kids were doing wrong, this made the behavior stick and often worsen. I did reward for good behavior with more than positive words. When a bad behavior occured that would mean that they would lose the reward. But, they always had the chance to earn something back with good behavior. Of course I couldn't YELL at my students. My calm approach really helped in the situation. They didn't control the situation with their bad behavior because they weren't controlling me.
NOW, I am a parent and this approach is very difficult. I have a two year old who is starting to have tantrums, I am overtired and less patient. So now I have to learn to apply what I learned as a teacher. It is a challenge. But, knowing that I have a temper, I decided that spanking or anything physical would not work well because what if I let my temper get control of me and my spanking happens with my anger mixed in. I would hate myself for hitting my child. My wonderful mother used to haul off and slap us as kids. I don't want to do that to my son. I have tried in the past taking my two fingers (pointer and middle) and tap-tapping my babies hand with a sternish 'don't do that' and I noticed that you can't hurt with those two fingers. But, I still am not sure if that feels OK.
So, my main thing to remember for myself, and it is so hard
sometimes, is that life is tough for these little ones.( I myself
throw little tantrums even as an adult, I think we all do). So,
to help these children through we point in positive direction
and everything from love. A calm voice - never raising (even
though once I yelled at my boy and I could see it was the
absolutely wrong thing to do, but I'm not perfect, I am
learning too) ALways praise the good stuff they're doing.
Point out what good stuff other kids are doing when they do
it. Not saying ''I wish you'd do it like that'' but, just showing
them the other way of doing stuff. I swear all kids want to do
the good stuff. I also always told my students that te
behavior they were exhibiitng was a bad behavior, but that
nothing about them was bad. For some kids this was a real
revelation. good luck
in the trenches
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