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Discipline for Toddlers
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Discipline for Toddlers
My 13-month old daughter starts in day-care next month. Overall
we were happy with the day-care when we saw the place and met
the staff. However, I have a concern about the way they
discipline the children. They explained that if a child does
something that he or she is not allowed to three times, she has
to stand on a ''time-out'' cirkel for 2-3 minutes. This would be
in front of the other children. I think small children are not
going to learn anything from this and that it is a humiliation
of the child. Any experience or thoughts on time-
outs/discipline in day-care? Do you think that time-outs are
appropriate for older children in a day-care?
A 3 minute time out for 12-13 month olds?!? They're babies! They're too
punishment, let alone a 3 minute time out. Clearly this child care
understand what's developmentally appropriate and I shudder to think
they're doing. Find a new child care center.
This doesn't seem appropriate for a toddler. How on earth would
they get a 13-month-old to stay still in the naughty circle for
3 minutes anyway? You should definitely discuss your concerns
with the daycare.
My son goes to daycare and they do on occasion give time outs
for repetitive, serious misbehaviors. (i.e.: hitting, pushing)
The timeout is one minute per year of age and it's in another
room away from the other children, with a caretaker. For less
serious behavior, the child would be taken away from the group
and would sit on a caretaker's lap for a few minutes. My son is
20 months old and has had one ''leave the room'' timeout in his 8
months at our daycare. Personally, I'm fine with that, because
it's consistent with what we do at home. For a child my son's
age, our family's and our daycare's main form of ''discipline''
is distracting him, removing him from situations where he's
getting in trouble or out of control, and making sure he's not
too hungry or tired. That keeps most situations from escalating
to the point where a time out is necessary. Time outs are
really supposed to be a way to get children to calm down, not a
way to embarrass them in front of the group.
This discipline for a one-year-old is outrageously inappropriate. It
borders on abusive! It is even inaproppriate for an older child of
any age. Time-out is, in general, a much contested discipline method.
Some teachers, schools, parents, experts, etc. swear by it whereas
others - like myself - feel that there are better ways to help a child
change his or her behaviors. However, this kind of time out is one
that relies on shaming a child and perhaps on causing physical
discomfort (since the child has to STAND in one place) and both are
these are inappropriate under any circumstance. If you can, find
another child care for your child!!!
An experienced preschool teacher
I work at a daycare and there is consistency to discipline, but
none of it involves putting one-year-olds in time-out and
certainly not in a position of ridicule. Younger children are
redirected. Most older children respond well to redirection as
well or a simple reminders. Time out is used occasionally.
that is ludicrous to expect from a 1 year old. I would
question the daycare based on this. Do they really expect a 1
year old to ''get it'' like a 4 year old does?
Check out gentle discipline
Trust your instincts! You are absolutely right that a one year
old will not learn from any form of time-out. The way that
children learn is by being kindly guided in the right direction,
not through humiliation and shame. A daycare program that
believes this is the right way to teach a very young child is
seriously lacking in knowledge of both child development and
Our 16 month is displaying the normal behavior of testing his
limits and need some advice about the best way to handle it. We
have baby-proofed our house to an extent that he is given a lot
of freedom, but there are about 3 things that he is not allowed
to do (for safety reasons). We have both been consistent about
never allowing him to do those things, but he continues to push.
We generally just try to redirect his attention but he is so, so
determined that is doesn't work. My understanding is that
time-outs are not appropriate for someone before two, because
they don't understand the punishment as a consequence of their
behavior, so I wonder if there is another alternative for this
age. Note: we do not believe in spanking or yelling. Any
REDIRECT! REDIRECT! REDIRECT! Keep at it. Pick him up and move
him to another room to another activity. Make sure that you get
down to his level when talking to him to acknowledge his
frustration with what you are preventing him from... Say
something like, ''I know that you really want to shove that fork
in the light socket, but it isn't safe. Mommy isn't safe if she
does it. Let's go to the dining room and play with play dough.''
Then physically remove him from the situation as gently as
Spanking and yelling are pretty much for your benefit anyway, so
you are safe in avoiding them.
I just wanted to chime in that we introduced time outs when my
daughter was about 17 months old. It was a very rare occurrence,
but definitely think that less than two year olds can understand
that actions have consequences to a degree. In our case we
already had the rule that at mealtime, when the food throwing
started that meant she was done eating and we would wipe her face
and take her out of the high chair. If it was the beginning of a
meal, we would wait 10 minutes and then put her back. If we
thought she had already eaten enough, she was done. She quickly
learned this. However, in the spirit of testing limits, one
night she was throwing food and I said, ''Ok, you are done
eating.'' I went to get the washcloth, and when I came back, she
looked me square in the eye and threw her cup on the floor. When
I came close to wipe her face she slapped me across the face! I
was SO surprised, as we have a completely non-violent household
and she had never hit me purposefully before. Anyway, my first
response was, ''Ok you are in time out'' and thus the kitchen rug
became our time out spot. I went with the 1 minute per year of
age rule, and was amazed that after only about 2 times, she
understood and stayed there. When the time was up we would go to
her and repeat why she was in time out (short and sweet) and then
let her get up. Now that she is 2 1/2 we ask her why she was in
time out and then make her apologize before getting up. It has
worked very well, and she probably goes in time out less than
once a week.
Good luck with the limit testing!
Time out worked for us
Our house sounds a lot like yours. We have just a few battles we
fight vigorously with our 17 month old--no standing on chairs, no
walking in the street, etc. We fight them over and over and over
again. He is getting better. If it takes a 100 times for a dog to
learn a command, I can only imagine how many times it will take
for my son to learn not to stand on the furniture!
I am certainly no expert, but I use time outs with my son, and I
do see a difference in his behavior. I started the time outs for
me, really, just to collect myself when he would get under my
skin. I take him away from the temptation and place him in his
crib. I had heard ''a minute per year of age,'' so we started at
one minute....That's about all it takes. After a minute, he is
calm, usually cuddly, and leaves whatever it is alone--for a
little while, at least. I'm not sure if it is the best method,
but when we both need a break, it seems to work for us.
Just keep consistent and (I have to believe) they will get it
keeping the faith
Hi. I think you can definitely put your little guy in some
version of time out at this age. Our little boy is 20 months
now. He started this whole biting routine when he was about 14
months and every time he did it I just put him down and ignored
him for a full minute. Now, if he does something dangerous or
bad, I stick him in his crib for a minute and tell him when I am
done what he did that landed him in the pokey. They are
definitely smart/advanced enough to understand that when they do
X then an unpleasant Y happens. You bite me, you get ignored.
As for continuous testing, just assume he will find something
else to test you with. Sounds like this is their full-time job
at this age.
I don't think he's too young for time out. My son was even younger
(still crawling, so
under 13 months) when I started. He understood 'no-no', but there was
he started teasing me with...
He loved pulling my books off the bookshelf. At first I'd move him and
say, ''No, no,
that's a mama book, here's a Renzie book'', and hand him a board book.
started going right back to do it again. When I found myself getting
angry (just a
teeny), I thought - you can't get angry at a baby, and I decided to put
him in time
out (1 minute, crib as restraint, no isolation factor). My sister-in-law
said it wouldn't
work, since he was so young. It did. He didn't seem to mind the
time-out, but he
did stop pulling out books. I never got angry about it, he was never sad
or mad, and
he learned to stop doing it.
It wasn't until he was much older that he started to be unhappy about
You're doing the right thing, and everything you've heard is
exactly what I've read and heard, too. It's frustrating, but
before 36 months small children can't reliably follow
direction. It does help to actually speak your rule while
redirecting. Once our daughter started talking, she would often
speak the rule, too, sometimes right before she couldn't resist
doing the offending activity, but as she gets closer to three,
it's gotten so much easier. So, redirect while telling him in
simple, affirmative terms (chairs are not for standing, chairs
are for sitting, etc), the ''rule'' you are trying to teach. Good
I just went through this stage with my son. We also do not do
the spanking thing. And, timeouts at this age are not
developmentally effective. Here is what we did -
First we(parents and caregiver) got very clear on what he can do
and what he can not. The first tier are things that are never
ok, ever. (Climbing up on the hearth, touching/pulling plants,
etc.) The second was things that are ok sometimes - meaning it
is ok to throw the ball but not ok to throw books. We handled
these ones differently.
For the serious offences - At the FIRST instant he touched a
plant or threw his leg up on the hearth.. ''NO TOUCH'' - in a
clear & serious, but not angry tone. Immediately remove him,
face him towards an empty wall, not saying anything, holding him
firmly for about 20seconds. Even as he starts to move, hold him
firmer. Release him, then walk away and ignore him for about
20-30 more seconds. The first few times you do this he will go
right back to do the thing, just repeat, don't get exasperated,
he just wants to make sure that you will do it again. I would
usually go into another room while ignoring him and start to
play with something that he could hear. Then he would end up
finding me, and was easily distracted and not caught into a
loop. This totally works - he quickly understood "No Touch"
or "Not for you" away from home too.
For the other situation - it seems a lot of books say treat it
all the same way, but we found that ineffective - he was not
learning anything. So we started to say "no, no. You can put
the book down nicely" and then I'd show him, then have him do
it. Sometimes if a ball was nearby I'd say "Here, you can
throw the ball. Not the book." This totally worked great for
other things too. He started swatting - not quite hitting, but
not quite nice. So I started saying - "You can touch nicely"
and then pat and pet the object. And he quickly got out of the
Good luck! Be consistent and calm.
Hi,we have a 16 month old boy too! I know exactly what you
mean, how the one thing you don't want him to do (or touch or
eat...)is what he goes for.We've baby-proofed so he can have
the run of most of the livingroom/kitchen/his bedroom, too.My
husband even had to put 1''x12'' planks on all the low windows
because our son LOVED to bang on the glass and ''NO'' just didn't
work and it was too dangerous.When he's 2 or 3 we'll have our
whole windows back.The best advice I can give is what we do,
which is just remove him from the thing he is doing that we
don't want him to do and talk to him as we do it ''I know you
want to climb on your dresser but it's dangerous so Mommy has
to close your bedroom door for a while and we can do something
else. Look, here are your favorite trains'') and if possible,
make it so he can't keep doing it right then. He'll do it later
or tomorrow as we know.It may limit your access to a part of
the house for a while but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta
do. Acknowledge what he wants and explain why it's not an
option right then (or ever, as the case may be) He may still
cry or go back to it but you know you're being fair and more
sinks in than we realize sometimes.It's just a daily thing,
telling them the same stuff over and over and eventually your
consistency will pay off.I'm not sure what the ''things'' are but
our son likes to lick the kitchen floor (a taste for linoleum)
and the knobs on the cabinets and so we remove him from there,
close the door and redirection (to his legion of toys that
you'd think he'd prefer over lino)usually works.It's a fun and
challenging age, you can almost smell them learning and our job
in that process is so important, it's humbling. BTW, my son's b-
day is Feb 17th. Is yours close?
Unfortunately, you have to wait it out. You must still be
consistent and remove him from the situation (electric cord,
whatever) and redirect/distract him. He will get it eventually,
but he's young and so it will take time and persistence. Time-
outs, etc. won't work yet. You may want to check out the books
by Louise Bates Ames (like ''your one year old'') for age-
approrpiate behavior descriptions and ideas on what you can do.
These books are a bit out-of-date (mothers are assumed to be the
care-takers, etc.) but the descriptions of behavior are still
Keep it up!
I wanted to add to what had already been posted in response to this
Some people say that time-outs worked for their one-year-olds - so I
right time to introduce this depends upon each individual child. For
however, one is considered too young.
But what I really wanted to address that no one else did was the
time-outs are supposed to be a kind of punishment. They are NOT
supposed to be
used this way! Time-outs are meant to be used with kids who are acting
response to a situation, in an out-of control way. Time outs were
intended to HELP
the child get some space away from a difficult situation or feelings and
learn how to
calm themselves by taking some time away from whatever is stimulating
outs are intended as a tool that a child can learn to use to calm down
centered. When, as adults, we go for a walk or go in a room alone to
''cool off'' from
a heated argument or other situation, we are giving ourselves a
children, they don't know how to do this themselves, so we are supposed
guiding and teaching them how to do it by giving them time-outs.
Punishment doesn't work
First of all, thank you for all of your responses to my
"Discipline 101" question. I read them, my husband read
them and we culled what worked for us and made a great list.
I wanted to ask a follow up. Our situation is that we are abroad
in Asia for 6 months with a teeny/crappy kitchen. We also are
traveling around a fair amount with our 19 month old. While we
can definitely cook more at home (point very well taken), the
most difficult part of changing things in terms of throwing or
not providing snacks all day is when we are on the go. If we
take a train somewhere to eat dinner, our son will scream and
whine to get out unless we give him a constant stream of snacks.
If we are on a train for several hours and he throws something,
there is no place to put him in a time out (and he usually
doesn't care about a thing being taken away, he just gets in a
throwing mood. It is a tantrum with throwing).
SO, if you wise, wise people could just help me a little bit
more, we might be able to drastically improve things over here.
So, (A) how do we discipline on the go and (B) how do we not give
him constant snacks on the go. OR do we just accept that we have
5 more months here and he won't turn into a delinquent from a few
weekends of extra snacks and tolerated throwing.
Now that I understand you are traveling I'm not sure this is all
about discipline. You're putting your kid in a situation that
is really hard for him and he's upset and cranky so then the
situation is really hard for you also. I just don't think it is
OK for him to be throwing things on a train no matter how upset
he is. Take away everything that he could throw and then try to
soothe or distract him from his tantrum. It seems like he is
having a trantrum because he hates being confined on a train and
having his routine disrupted. This is going to be a lot of work
for you. It is easy to give him a snack to just placate him but
this is teaching him bad food habits. Try to find ways to
entertain him or soothe him on the train. Look out the window,
play clapping games, look at books, walk up and down the aisle,
play peekaboo, bounce him on your lap, give him toys (that you
put away if he throws). It is REALLY hard to travel with
toddlers. Can you cut back on the travelling? I agree that you
can't put a toddler on time out in a train. Older kids would
understand but not a toddler that hasn't had time outs before.
Well, I definitely don't have an answer but can share my
experience. My daughter is 22 months and when we travel I also
seem to have to have a steady stream of snacks going. I have
figured that if that's what works now, that's great, and just try
to have healthy ones with me like cubed tofu, carrots, fruit,
whole grain crackers. That said, she got through one flight with
a half a BOX of graham crackers. Aside from the snacks though, I
try to take every safe (and non-bothersome to other travelers)
opportunity to let her out of her chair/carseat to wander and
explore. Often this comes at the expense of my faster and more
linear idea of how we should travel. But, for example, we learned
about getting on and off moving walkways with a stroller, letting
people pass, and saying ''excuse me'' to walk around others on our
4 hour flight delay last weekend. For me, what has worked is to
try to say ''yes'' as often as possible to her curiosity, and have
lots of snacks on hand too! Also, I have a friend that put
together a box of small toys for her daughter to take on trips to
restaurants and similar places. She fills it with crayons and
small notebooks, stickers, cars, etc. which has seemed to work
for her. As for discipline on the road, when there is
unacceptable behavior, I generally ask my daughter to look at me,
put my face very close to hers and say in a low, stern and
serious voice that that behavior is not ok, we don't do that,
etc. and then let it go. I figure there will be ample
opportunities for discipline in coming years and there is no
sense escalating things into tantrums for the benefit of my
Good for you for wanting to get some guidelines - it helps a
whole lot when both parents talk out possible scenarios and
solutions beforehand so that when the tantrum happens, you feel a
wee bit more prepared.
I would say no to ''tolerated throwing''. If he's throwing
specifically because he's frustrated, just be sure to keep
throwables out of reach and keep saying ''no throwing''.
And endless snacks... it soon becomes a habit and an expected way
of soothing... too much ''food as comforter'' makes me...
uncomfortable. But absolutely still carry them - a few raisins or
crackers can go a long way in soothing a cranky growing child.
I think the key thing is to figure out other ways to DISTRACT and
ENTERTAIN. If you see the tantrum coming, pull out a toy. Put
together a kit of easy to carry things that are for travelling
only. Don't use all at once, but rotate them - that way he has
''new'' toys to look forward to on every journey.
Small picture books that you don't necessarily have to read but
just point out pictures ''Hey, I see a red dog... do you see the
red dog? Where is the red dog?''
Small toys - not small enough to put in his mouth, but sturdy
little cars ''Let's have a race!''
Action figures/dolls/people/animal toys - They also have the
benefit that they can ''talk'' to him when he's tired of mommy and
daddy always telling him ''no'' and ''stop''.
And even the snacks - you can ''stretch out'' their use by lining
crackers up, counting them, ''guess which hand'', playing ''here
comes the raisin train...All aboard! Non-stop to the Tunnel of No
If his fine motor skills are developing, a few crayons and a
small notepad. Post-it notes are endless fun even if he doesn't
draw - he can safely stick them anywhere.
My kids are 8 and 5, but I still stock up on ''travel toys'' at
thrift stores, garage sales and the like. Hide them away until
the next time we have a long journey and they've had enough of
Mom of Two
Dear Anon, It sounds daunting, but there's a solution. Since your
son's behaviors could turn into lifetime habits, it's best to
deal with it now-- a very loving thing to do. It seems your son's
behavior is his coping strategy soothing his anxiety and trying
to regulate himself-an important life skill. Help him find other
appropriate means such as asking to be held or to play with him.
Part of his coping strategy is seeking your attention (negative
or positive), so he will do anything to get it-that works.
Re-train him to seek your attention with his positive behavior.
While your both calm kneel to his level, look him in the eye and
frequently tell your son what you want him to do and what you do
not want him to do. Make it short and simple so he can remember.
Then consistently follow through with giving him attention when
he acts appropriately, and withdrawing your attention when acting
inappropriately. Stick to your guns. Without absolute
consistency, things could get worse. Saying ''no'' and tolerating
his tantrums until he knows his tantrums will not work is one of
the most difficult, and loving, things a parent can do. As soon
as he stops tantruming, give him positive attention (heart felt
praise and nurturing). Remember he is trying to cope. Key:
''Catch him in the act of behaving appropriately," giving him
lots of praise and nurturing when he is acting appropriately.
Also, try setting aside at least 15 minutes a day for quality
time with your son he can count on. This has been miraculously
helpful. Also give him choices, as he is learning to assert his
power and needs appropriate avenues for this important
developmental need. Since setting limits can trigger your own
difficult feelings and behaviors, consider getting some support
as you all go through this brief trying time. Earplugs can help
as well. If concerned about the neighbors, inform them of your
plan. Again, setting appropriate limits is a very loving thing to
do and it helps children feel safe. I have successfully used this
method with many children and adolescents with far more severe
behaviors. Good luck!
I have this rule -- don't travel with your child between the ages
of 15-months and two-years and don't take children out to dinner
between the ages of 18-months and four-years. First-off, you
both must sit in time-out for 37 minutes...
Honestly, when I have been forced to break my own rules (I have a
two and four year old and have traveled and eaten out extensively
with them since birth), I go for convenience over desire. For
instance, there is a restaurant near my home that makes the most
fabulous tacos that take about 15-minutes to get to the table.
They also make cheese pizza that takes about two minutes to get
to the table. When I go their with the girls, I order cheese
pizza. When I go with my newspaper and/or my husband, I order
the tacos. When I am on an airplane for five hours with the
girls (almost always traveling without my husband), I give them
anything to keep them happy. Granted, I am playing defense,
which is a little harder than outmanning the little creatures.
Also, I think kids can sense when you are desperate.
I didn't respond to your first post, but don't stress too much
about discipline. Try to work on structure (even if it means
spending too much time in your crappy kitchen) at this point --
the same thing at the same time every day, within reason of course.
Hello fellow parent--
After your first post, I had to concur with the person who
responded by saying that (by eating in restaurants every night
with your toddler) you are setting your toddler up for a test
that he is destined to fail, and for that he is labeled as the
After reading your follow-up post, I have the impression that
you and your husband are determined to plow through your usual
routines without taking your child's needs into consideration,
and are expecting him to comply to fit your set plans. Raising
a toddler means sometimes seriously limiting or bringing your
plans to a grinding halt, reprioritizing your short-term goals,
and lowering your expectations in terms of what you think a 19-
month old is capable of handling before melting down. What do
they say in AA? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over
again expecting different results.
You don't say why your family is traveling in Asia for the next
six months--Work assignment? Leisure travel? Extended family
emergency? Whatever the reason, it might help to observe
and/or talk with the locals and see how they handle living in
apartments with ''teeny/crappy kitchens'' and traveling long
distances with a toddler. But I think you and your husband
have unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished with
a toddler in tow.
I recommend that you read ''The Epidemic'' by Robert Shaw, MD.
It's available online at amazon.com and elsewhere.
after reading some of the bpn's responses, i wanted to remind
you and the people responding to your post that we don't know
your ''exact'' situation as to why, how, and the details of your
travels to asia- your question was how to manage your toddler
while traveling, such as while on the train
should you guys have to go out to eat or go somewhere. in parts
of asia, i know that trains are safer, more predictable, less
expensive, you can walk around a bit, etc- whatever. you are
asking an honnest question and you are obviously nervous about
traveling with your child- this may be your first overseas trip
with your child- thus you are asking for some advice. it's not
fair to you or others who have the same consern and reading
these responses looking for some advice. relax, you will
manage. first of all, there will be two adults and one child-
so find some comfort in that. just be prepared for meltdowns
(so when it happens, it won't be so shocking for YOU- besides,
in asia- culturally, kids can do no wrong), as when you travel
with toddlers, they'll need a balance of stimulation, quiet
time, and comforting. so, lots of different types of
activities, fave toys, ecoloring books (just to scribble),
stickers, post-its, books, treats/snack (healthy ones- b/c your
traveling so they'll probably be snacking more than usual)- i
pull out a ''activity'' every 30-45 minutes. you and your partner
will need to be activily involved- you guys are stability and
comforting factor when everything else around your toddler is
new. as far as the time outs and throwing stuff. yes, be firm
to say that it is not acceptable. perhapse have a walk in the
cabin, look out the windows to spot something interesting, and
talk about it and try to calm your child down. you know your
child the best. dont sweat the small stuff with your toddler-
everything will be foreign to them, so you have to work extra
hard to make sure that he/she is having a fun trip.
every child is different, so i wouldn't say stop traveling
untill your kid is old enough. my now, 4 y.o daughter has been
traveling overseas since she was 10 months- she averages an
international trip a year. now we also have a 7 month old and
we're all headed off to asia again. i honnestly feel that you
don't have to stop traveling, but change your style of
i'm almost giggling because you seem to be more worried about
the 5 hr train ride than the 12+ hr plane ride to get to asia.
if you can manage the plane ride- no worries. feel free to
contact me should you need any advice or comfort.
Much like the poster from last week's advice, I am having a hard
time figuring out what is important and what is not for my 19
month old. He is very smart, very funny, and a little bandit who
tries to get away with a lot. Can some of you more
discipline-minded parents whose children are ''spirited'' give me
some good guidelines for discipline?
1. Is it worth making him sit before we give him food b/c if we
do, we will spend a lot of time having tantrums and doing a tug
of war. We eat out almost every night, so we end up chasing him
around the restaurants. This seems like what 19 month olds do
and that we can't make him sit if he doesn't want to sit.
2. How is he supposed to know the difference between toys that
you can throw (balls) and toys you shouldn't throw (giant truck).
How do we handle throwing?
3. He wants snacks all day long when we are with him in our
teeny apartment. but when he is at daycare, he only gets snacks
at certain times and seems fine with that. Here, he just stands
at the refrigerator and screams ''YOGURT!'' or ''PRETZELS'' and
tantrum if we don't give it to him.
Terrified that if we don't discipline him properly he will end up
in prison (not really) and out of control. We just don't know
what is worth pushing and what is not.
I would try using choices and consequences with your toddler.
Good choices = good consequences and bad choices = bad
consequences. My 3 year old understands this very well. Try to
make the consequences fit the choices, i.e. if he throws the
truck the truck goes bye bye for a day. If he waits until
snack time to eat he gets to have the snack he wants, if he
doesn't wait and throws a tantrum he does not get a snack and
when snack time comes he does not get the one he prefers. Do
not reward bad choices. Choosing to have a tantrum = a time
out. For time outs we do one minute for every year until they
are about 5. Then time outs can be longer. If you don't want
him throwing balls in the house tell him to roll it instead.
Throwing the ball means the ball goes bye bye for a day.
Rolling the ball instead can mean you will take him to the park
later and throw the ball etc...; Make sure you reward his good
choices and discourage his bad choices with appropriate
consequences. Also,a toddler can understand the word 'choices',
but instead of 'consequences' we say ''a bad (or good) thing
happens.' I think this is basic discipline 101 and it works
pretty well for us. Even people from educated middle class
homes (and hotel heiresses for that matter...) can end up in
serious trouble if they never face appropriate consequences for
their bad choices. Good luck!
Well, you need to decide what matters to you, not just now, but long
families have a lot of rules, some have fewer, most of us prioritize
health and safety
For example, I don't allow jumping or climbing on the living room
furniture - the
kids can do whatever they want in their bedrooms, where they throw all
and pillows on the floor and jump off their beds with delight. But this
is a rule that's
important to me, not one I think everyone's children need to follow. So
step one is
decide what you do care about.
It does strike me that throwing toys that can hurt someone is about
courtesy, and courtesy for the family if they might break the lamp.
When and how
kids eat is a matter of what the parents think the standard should be,
should learn that when they are at someone else's house, they eat when
and what is
offered, and that it is rude to demand something else. We have set
snack times at
our house - and all snacks are at the table, no one walks around with
because I can't stand constant grazing and wanted to nip that in the
bud. I do
personally feel that kids in restaurants should be reasonably behaved
the venue - what's good behavior at Fat Apples is different than Chez
no matter where you are, it's unfair to the other patrons if kids are
Step two is to recognize what's reasonable to expect, which you are
answer is a bit about age, but a bit about your kid. And about you. If
consistently set limits and enforce them, you will probably get better
it may take two or three weeks of being the ''bad guy.'' I say
some kids really are almost impossible at that age. But if you don't
try, you won't
know what your kid is capable of. And you have to be willing to let
and tantrum. Yeah, it hurts. But your kid won't die if they don't get
that minute. And after a week of more scheduled snacks it should get
I also think you are setting yourself up for failure here. Why are you
every night? How about at least getting takeout or frozen dinners if
you don't want
to cook, so you can practice sitting at a table and eating in your own
will make it easier to get better behavior at a restaurant. But at that
age, maybe ten
minutes of sitting at a table is all you can expect. If my kids are
getting figety, I
leave the table and take them outside to run on the sidewalk. Or we go
to the Ikea
cafeteria or another place with a play area. I don't just let them run
restaurant and bother other people, though. We also keep crayons and
paper in the
diaper bag at all times for restaurant trips.
No throwing trucks? How about no throwing toys in the house, period?
It might be
hard to explain what toys are OK to throw, and which ones aren't. We
throwing even balls in the house. That's for the backyard and the park.
rules are easiest to enforce. Whatever gets thrown gets a ''time out''
on a high shelf.
Is our house a model of perfect order? Of course not. And actually I
would hate it
that way. But I am glad we can all sit down at the table together and
actually have a
semblance of a meal, most of the time.
Good luck - you'll need it.
Hard-a#@ Mom but OK with it
I'm not sure your child is ''spirited'' he sounds pretty ordinary
1. re: eating out. No, it is not reasonable to expect a 19 month
old to sit and wait for dinner in a restaurant. Some will and
some won't, but expecting this EVERY NIGHT is not reasonable.
What about take-out or ordering in? Small kids need quiet and
consistency, especially after a hectic day at day care. I think
eating out every night is really too much.
2. Just tell him no throwing except for balls. They can
understand that. (and don't worry about exceptions like
frisbees--he'll figure it out)
3. I think if he wants a snack, and it is healthy, then he should
have it. He is growing so much right now, there is no point in
limiting snacks--just make sure they are real food--make them
available on a low table if you have one.
There will be plenty of unreasonable fits coming in the future,
but I think he is behaving very reasonably for his age. It is not
spoiling him if you meet his needs for food and quiet time in the
I strongly recommend these books: Happiest Toddler on the Block, and How
So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk. The first
one is especailly
useful before they have language. Bottom line, you have to set limits
consistent to get your child to behave or they will turn into nasty
spoiled brats and
no one wants that. I found that the transition to toddlerhood somewhat
because your role changes from someone who indulges every baby whim to
discplinarian and no one likes being the bad guy. Make sure you and your
are on the same page with discipline and being setting limits.
For throwing, our rule is no throwing any toys inside. Balls can be
but not at people and we just have to keep saying it over and over.
Snacks and meals work waaaaaay better when scheduled. If you make the
boss, there is less you child can argue with (''I know you want yogurt
now, but snack
time isn't until 10:30. You can have yogurt when it's time.'').
The biggest thing I've learned from the books I mentioned is how to set
still acknowleging your child's feelings. It works if you keep at it and
you and your
kid will be better for it.
been there and still learning
A 19 month old can sit at the table for meals. It's important
that at mealtimes, everyone in the family sits together and he
will soon learn that this is what is expected from everyone in
the family. Have some dinners at home because this would be a
calmer and more relaxing environment for eating. Have your son
sit at the dinner table once the food is on the table.
Restaurants can be over stimulating so that may be one reason he
has a hard time sitting at the table. For now, I highly suggest
having dinner at home (takeout food, if it's hard to cook) to get
him used to sitting at the table and what is expected when he is
at the table. If you have to eat out, bring a book, crayons and
paper, quiet toys that he can have while he is waiting for the
food to arrive. As soon as he becomes fidgety, you can say, "it
looks like you need a break, let's go for a walk." Take him
outside for a little break, let him run around, show him things,
praise him for doing a good job while he was sitting at the
table. (Don't let him run around the restaurant. It's not safe;
it's disruptive and he needs to learn restaurants are not
2. How do we handle throwing?
Answer: You teach and tell him. When he throws things that are
okay to throw, encourage him and play with him (You threw the
ball! Good throw! Can you throw it in the pail?) When he throws
things he shouldn't tell him, "No. Trucks are not for throwing.
Let's push the truck on the ground." If he continues to throw
warn him: "No. We do not throw trucks. If you throw the truck
again, we have to put it away for now." (AND DO IT!) It's very
important to teach toddlers how to use things: "crayons are for
paper, not the wall", stand or sit while brushing your teeth; we
don't walk or run around while we brush our teeth. For every
DON'T, give a DO (e.g. "Don't rip the book. You can turn the
pages. You can read the book with Mommy.")
3. He wants snacks all day long
Answer: This is a clear case of setting limits. Since he has no
problems with scheduled snacks at daycare, he should have no
problems at home. Set up a specific schedule for breakfast,
lunch, dinner and snacks. For example, breakfast, morning snack,
lunch, nap, afternoon snack, dinner, bath, bed. He will tantrum
at first, but stick to the schedule and let him know when it is
time for snack/lunch etc. If he screams and tantrums, walk away
and ignore the screaming. When he is calm, offer a
distraction/play/read a book.
Routine is very good for toddlers because then they know what to
expect and this gives them a feeling of control and security. Set
limits and boundaries; this also helps a toddler feel secure.
Point out all the good things he does; give him praise, lots of
attention and lots of playtime.
In my fourteen plus years of parenting three sons, I found the most
important things about discipline are to pick your battles, follow
and try to stay emotionally detached from the issue. The last is the
We had a pretty simple rule for our three boys - if you want to eat, you
have to sit down. As soon as they got up, food went away. If they got
up enough times, food went away until the next meal or snack. I know
this is hard because we all worry about our children eating properly,
he will not starve. When he is hungry enough, he will sit down. Same
rules apply at home, restaurant, grandma's house. I first told my
this, warned them once, and then just took the food away. Subsequent
times, I would just remove the food and try very hard not to scold or
At 19 months, he will know the difference about what to throw and what
not to if you explain it to him. We kept a basket of soft balls that
to throw in the house (with some limits - i.e. not around the stove).
Nothing else was ok to throw. If it got thrown, it went away for
it got thrown again, it went away for a longer time (by toddler
Schedule snack times. Put a paper clock with movable hands on the
fridge and set it for the next snack time. You can start to teach him
time this way too. He does it with you because he knows you will give
It is so important to think before you threaten and be willing to follow
through with the threat if the behavior merits. Once you establish that
you mean business, all aspects of discipline get easier.
I'm a discipline-minded parent with a very spirited 7 year old
son. Things I wish I REALLY knew earlier when our son was 19
1) Discipline is never easy to learn. Children will always push
against new rules as much as they can to MAKE SURE THE BOUNDARY
2) Take a deep breath, yell less, switch places with partner, but
3) The crying gets louder, the tantrums worse BEFORE it gets better.
4) It's never too early to get familiar with the much recommended
''1 2 3 Magic'' DVD and book by Dr. Phelan. He's highly recommended
for good reasons.
Eating and sitting still. You wrote: This seems like what 19
month olds do and that we can't make him sit if he doesn't want
Yes and no. This is why people use high chairs and going out is
usually not preferable. There will be crying and screaming, so
that's why one helps one's child to learn correct behavior at
home. If eating out almost every night is your thing... I pity
the people who will have their dining out experience ruined by
your child's completely understandable reaction to discipline.
Sitting still is indeed what one does while eating, whether at
home or in a restaurant. At home, sitting still for 5 min. can be
long enough. In public - no.
It sounds like you're just constantly setting all of you up for a
Can't you do take out?
2) Believe me, 19 month olds can indeed tell the difference
between a ball and truck. Throwing trucks is apparently getting a
wilder, more exciting reaction than throwing a ball. Change the
response. If a truck gets thrown, say ''Trucks are NOT for
throwing. We're going to put this away right now if you're in a
throwing mood.'' Bye bye truck.
3) Snacks - obviously he knows the rules at daycare. They don't
give in to tantrums and yelling. But hey, mommy does! So follow
the daycare rules. Let him have a tantrum. Do NOT GIVE IN. See above.
It will get harder, then easier, then harder, then easier... but
stick with it, and yes, one day you too will have a child who
sits (sort of) still, who knows how to keep his toys, and says
''May I please?''
Oh, yes... me too!
Seems to me that at 19 months you can be generous with your child and
his requests, but not to his screaming or tantrums. If he goes into
then your job is to be with him while he moves through the feelings, but
change your mind about the yoghurt or whatever it was. ''Tears and
Tantrums'' is an
excellent book on the subject.
I would avoid contests, like trying to make him sit in a restaurant.
created a test he cannot pass, and which gives the him the unjust label
If he throws something, put it away. If he tantrums, you support him as
1. It is worth making him sit. He screams and throws tantrums
because it works. Please do not take him to restaurants where
he runs around the entire time. It is really not fair to the
other patrons. It seems like that is what other 19 month olds
do because their parents would rather be friends than
2. When he throws the truck, use the word no and hand him a
ball. Constantly. Do not waiver, or think it's cute. No is
not a bad word, and he will understand. He wont get the
ball/truck connection right away, but stay on it. He will get
3. Again, he does it with you because he gets away with it. A
snack in between meals is fine, but eating all day means he
wont sit for the meal. Do you make him sit for the snack or
allow him to graze while playing? I can't understand why
people let their kids track food all throughout the house. It
will only make life harder as they get older. Why retrain them
at 4 when you can train them right the first time now?
Discipline is not a bad word
OK! First of all, YOU are the parent!!!
Two GREAT books: Gentle Discipline
and...''How to Get Your Kid to Eat, but not too Much''... both are
I think kids that are under 2 years old are too young for time outs or
asking them to
''sit'' in order to get food, etc... Don't say ''you need to sit and
eat''. Just say, ''OK,
lunch time!'' I am going to put you in your booster or high chair.
I would then simply put him in his high chair or booster chair for 15
him some food. Offer a few healthy items and include something that you
likes. (Including a fruit dessert or yogurt, etc...I always offer bread
and milk along
with a few other things because most kids will eat that.)
HERE is the important part:
Then sit with him and eat yourself or not. Do NOT make a big deal of any
of it. Serve
the food up very uncerimoniously. Don't insist that he eat any of it.
You can't make a
toddler eat!!!!!! Your job is to bring healthy, yummy food into the
house and deliver
it to him. His job is to eat it or NOT.
The more you insist, the more he will fight you. That is his job as a
toddler ;)!!!!! To
test boundaries and limits.
He may not like the high chair or booster and may not eat in it the
first couple of
times. That is ok. Your consistency, gentleness and NOT making a big
eating but making it positive is KEY, KEY, KEY!
Offer him foods at meal times and maybe two snack times. He should not
or snacks in between that or he will be snacking all day.
If he whines for food, tell him he can have it at snack time or lunch
time and MOVE
ON! Give him a choice between two activities and redirect him and get
This is only going to get worse if you give into him.
Having family meals at least once a day really helps. Don't force him to
offer the food and sit together.
Don't bring him other food if he won't eat what is there. No short order
Always incude something you know he likes but don't bring him a bunch of
stuff if he won't eat what you are offering, otherwise he is in charge
and you will be
doing this at every meal for the next 5 years!!!
DON'T get into battles with him at this age. Redirect him, give him
choices, be firm,
don't waiver, move on. Say yes when you can but don't get into back and
battles. You are only fueling the toddler fire!
As for throwing things, just say: ''We don't throw big things. Would you
like to throw
this soft bean bag toy or small stuffed animal into the laundry
basket??'' Tell him
that the large item is not ok and give him another choice. The Gentle
book has other suggestions.
Feel free to email me if you need support.
You can use positive words and actions to discipline your child.
Be consistent and follow through.
1. Sitting during meals. You might want to try this at home
before the restaurant or once you've established some discipline
elsewhere in his life. Tell him ''today we are going to eat
sitting down''. Tell him that it is time for dinner and he needs
to sit down. Lift him up and put him in the chair. Sit down
and start eating. Ignore tantrums. If he asks for food tell
him ''we are going to eat sitting down''. Once he's sitting down
tell him ''You're sitting down, now you can eat!'' Give praise.
2. Throwing. This is an easier one. If he throws a truck
say ''balls are for throwing outside, trucks stay on the
ground''. Give him a ball to throw, or take him outside to throw
a ball or roll his truck with him. If he keeps throwing pick up
what he throws and put it away so he can't play with it. Ignore
3. Wants snacks all the time. This is an easy one too. Just
ignore his yelling. When he stands in front of the fridge
yelling tell him ''I'm sorry it isn't time for a snack now.
You're going to have a snack when we get back from the park (or
whenever definite time he'll be able to understand not a time
like 3:00).'' Ignore tantrums. Give him snack when you said you
would and say ''we just got back from the park NOW it is time for
He's not going to end up in jail but your whole family including
your son will be a lot happier if he feels like there's an adult
in charge of his world keeping him safe and setting some
limits. He's not old enough to be in charge of a family or his
First, check out the series of books by Louise Bates Ames,
specifically ''Your one-year old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy Twelve to
Twenty-Four Month Old'' http://tinyurl.com/yubvmj This great
book (and the other books for future ages) can give you age-
appropriate behavior info and advice. 'Discipline' per se is
not something you can really do until your child is older, but
you can distract, redirect and work around things with your
toddler. To answer your questions: 1) Your child can't
realistically be expected to sit in a restaurant until he is
about 4 years old or older. They just have fast metabolisms and
must keep moving. It's what they are biologically programmed to
do. Can you get take-out? That's what we do now with our
favorite restaurants. We get take-out and then our two year-old
will sit when he eats but he can run around and play when he is
finished and we can eat in relative peace. 2) throwing: just
be consistent and keep at it. We tell our son that only balls
are for throwing and we take away what he is throwing. Your
child is still quite young and will grow out of it. Just keep
the message consistent and he will eventually get it, esp. when
he is older. 3) snacks. First off, never ever give in to
tantrums or it teaches your child that if he tantrums, he gets
what he wants. Explain to him that if he calms down and ask
nicely, he can have snacks and don't give him any until he calms
down and can ask in a nice tone of voice (of course, 'asking
nicely' will just mean saying 'yogurt' without screaming and
tantruming). Another thing, kids like to graze so put out a few
snacks in a tray or on a plate on a little table and let your
little one snack all morning when he wants as he plays. Dr.
Sears talks about putting out an ice cube tray with different
finger foods in each little square and let the littles graze
when they want. Worked for us. Also, check out the book: ''The
Happiest Toddler on the Block'' by Harvey Karp which will tell
you how to talk with your toddler, which works great with our
son. http://tinyurl.com/299dhx Last thing, don't sweat the
small stuff. Be fair and loving, respect your child, be
consistent, and your child will be fine and won't end up in
prison. (I worry the little things too...easier said than
done....just try your best.)
Tantrums don't stop when parents give in to them and children don't grow
them. I've seen a 40 year old have a tantrum bigger than any 2 year old
and it isn't
pretty. You need to teach your child how you want him to act and be
willing to leave
a restraunt if he isn't listening. Sitting at the table is basic good
manners and your
son should practice this even at his young age. The advice from
Discipline" by Jane Nelson, Ed. D. has worked for me and made me feel
like I was
teaching good life skills.
I am totally and utterly confused about discipline. I truly
believe (and have read everywhere) that children who have
structure, know what is ok and not ok, and know who is the
parent and who is the child are the happiest. I know that when
my child sticks his tongue in the outlet that I should say no.
I know that when he throws his toys or food I say no. But other
than that, I have no clue. I am not sure what to let him know is
not acceptable and what I am supposed to ignore.
He often chews on food and then spits it out or drops it
directly on the floor. He has started to have some minor
tantrums when we stop doing something he likes. He hates
getting his diaper changed. All totally normal stuff, I know.
It is just how to handle it that mystifies me. Any book
suggestions or theories would be very helpful as I do want lots
of structure and discipline in the house.
I have a 14 month old, so I'm figuring this out at the same time as you.
But I thought I'd share what we do, which is basically say 'no' firmly
but gently when she does something unsafe (puts things in her mouth that
aren't safe, goes for the outlet) and then distract her. I don't expect
her to obey us at this point, I view it more as teaching her the word
'no' and sowing the seeds of discipline. We don't worry about things
that are only annoying at this point (throwing food, toys). At this age,
they are really still babies and I don't have very high expectations for
her to defer gratification or listen to verbal commands. But I figure
for important things (like safety), I should start to teach her the word
'no', but we still rely mostly on distraction for discipline. For diaper
changes, which our daughter has come to hate, I just keep working
through her complaints. I don't get angry (or try not to) but don't give
in either. The same goes for other things she doesn't like (being put in
her carseat, not getting an object she wants). I'll be interested to
know what more experienced parents say Sarah
I strongly recommend reading Positive Discipline. There are a couple of
books by the same authors (can't remember the names, though it's easy to
find). They have a version that's for 1-3 year old's that has helped me
alot in understanding and dealing with the development issues in that
age range and how to address discipline in a positive way. And yes,
throwing food and the rest, totally normal and developmentally
appropriate, and it still drives us all crazy!
I am a mother and a psychologist specializing in helping parents with
young children develop capacities and strategies to address exactly the
sorts of issues you
mentioned. I recommend the book ''The Emotional Life of the Toddler,''
Lieberman. If I can be of any help to you, please feel free to contact
me. I have a private practice in Oakland Jill Sulka, Psy.D., 326-2002,
I think one of the most important things to realize is that at this age,
your son is doing none of these activities to intentionally ''be bad''.
He doesn't know good from bad yet.
He's constantly exploring and examining how things work.
Dropping food on the floor, for example, allows him to explore gravity.
So remember that in what ever you do in response. I have found the best
response to a tantrum is to largely ignore it. If he is doing something
that is harmful or him or others, be really clear and tell him ''I do
not want you to do that''.
He's testing his boundries, so give him one.
I can recommend two books. One called Becoming the Parent you Want to
Be. by Davis and Keyser. Also, Natural Childhood. by many, but one
main author is John Thompson. Good luck!
You may want to read Penelope Leach's book ''Your Baby and Child From
Birth To Five''.
It is the really best book on child rearing in this age group. She will
give you the guidance you are looking for. A wonderful book---avaiable
on Amazon, at most bookstores, etc.
It drove me insane that there were no (none that I could find at the
time) good books on discipline for the age you are dealing with right
now. Things like time outs and incentives were just way over the head of
my young toddler, and I suspect, most young toddlers. You're on to
something with a consistent schedule, though, flexibility can come in
awfully handy when things aren't going well. Setting up your house to be
toddler friendly also helps greatly. Dangerous things out of reach...
lots of fun and interesting toys and books at eye-level for the child...
safe places for them to play on their own for short periods, etc... And,
the old standby: redirection.
If you want some insight in to this age, along with some tips and tricks
on how to deal, I highly, higly recommend ''Your One Year Old'' and all
the subsequent books:
''Your Two Year-Old, Three-Year Old, etc... If I'd had that book with my
first it would have saved my sanity. One caveat: they were written in
the 70s, so the language is a little out of date, but the developmental
research in the book holds firm in the present.
I find that when I am parenting at my best I that use structure,
consistency, and understanding to help guide my children.
There is a series of books by Louise Ames that I found helpful in
understanding my children's development. Each concentrates on a year of
a child's life. It helped be grasp my child's view of the world, normal
behaviors/phases and why they were happening, etc. Actually, if you read
these books, you will find that all of the behaviors that your child is
exibiting are normal and why he is doing them (tantrums...he doesn't
have enough vocabulary to communicate his needs/feelings, etc) They were
written in the '80s, so some of the wording may seem out of date, but
the concepts still remain true.
Choosing what is acceptable to your family and what is not is really up
to you. With my younger child (21 months), our limits are pretty much
based on safety. I don't care if she is banging her spoon on her plate.
I care if she is standing on her booster seat. With my older child (3
1/2), the expectations are greater.
I also try to keep in mind that discipline is about teaching.
I try my best to keep it positive. 'No' is a very effective word when
used infrequently (just as rasing your voice can be used very
effectively if not done all of the time). For instance, when my child
is running at the pool, I will ask her to 'walk slower' rather than tell
her 'don't run.' If as we are leaving the pool, my child is running
toward the parking lot, I will yell 'STOP.' Because 'no' and 'yelling'
are not part of my constant repitoire, I find that when they are used
they are obeyed.
The actual type of discipline that you use is really up to your child.
I don't mean that you give him a choice, but rather try different
techniques to see what works. Redirection worked with my older child
very well until she was about two. Now I use both 'think about it time
(same as a timeout, but my daughter must 'own' what it is she is doing
wrong, i.e., I am going to time out because I took my younger sister's
toy and then taunted her with it)' and redirection. With my younger
daughter, I've found redirection to be pretty much useless (she is a lot
more headstrong). Time-outs (she is too young to really think about it,
but I do make sure that I tell her what behavior has gotten her into
time-out) and modeling 'good'
behavior has worked wonders.
Hope this helps
I just read the responses to a post for advice about a 17
month old who runs into the street etc. My ultra active,
strong-willed daughter hated her stroller at a very early age
as well, so I'm very familiar w/this problem. And we thought
we had it handled... Now that I am 7 months pregnant with
my second, the issue has resurfaced. I would like to know
what pregnant moms have done with toddlers who run away
because they know mommy can't catch them or pick them
up. This happens on the way to the car at the park, on the
way to the car at day care, etc. where I have very little
recourse in terms of immediate consequence. My daughter
is FAST. She's old enough not to go into the street (thank
God) although she runs along residential sidewalks where
cars can easily come out of driveways and it's very
dangerous. If I take her by the hand, she goes limp and I
can't drag her even when I want to. Reasoning with her is
not working. Of course I realize this may have a lot to do w/
the fact that she's also very aware that a baby is coming and
has taken acting out to a whole new level.
I was hoping for some sage disciplinary advice before I go
to the last resort--the dreaded leash. I actually broke down
and cried on the the street today after she sprinted off
downhill toward an intersection at 5:30 pm. I was scared to
I would clear your schedule for a few weeks and out-stubborn your
daughter. Tell her that if she runs away from you again she will have
to hold your hand from then on. Once she runs away (and she will) take
her hand and explain that she ran away so now she holds your hand. When
she goes limp, wait.
Eventually she will realize there are other things she wants to be doing
and will move. Depending on how stubborn she is you may want to pick up
a good book or something else to do. It might make it a bit faster if
you kept fun activities in the car or she was going to a fun activity.
Eventually she will realize she doesn't get to walk by herself by going
limp and will hold your hand. This will be important for after the baby
as well-imagine how hard it will be to chase her down once your new
little one gets here.
I can totally relate--when I was pregnant with my second my son was very
fast and would run away just like your daughter. When he was under two
and I put him down with out holding his hand, he would just bolt.
When I was pregnant I just picked him up, not knowing what else to do.
Sometime it hurt me--in retrospect, although nothing really happened, it
was the wrong thing to do (but what do you do?)...
Can dad take her to school until after baby is born? Perhaps getting
help from others?
One thought is that perhaps you should just go for the leash.
When you bust it out explain to her why you need to use it--because she
runs away and she could get hurt. Point out the driveways to her--show
her how the cars pull in and out. Tell her that the driver cannot see
her over the hood of the car. She will probaby hate the leash, and not
want to wear it. Perhaps then she will behave?
I used to grab my son by his upper arm (right under the shoulder) this
seemed to work better than holding his hand (and possibly injuring
him... when he went one way and I went the other)...
good luck! good luck with the two of them... and just expect some
mom of 2, too
I think you have to be very strategic about where you go for the
remainder of your pregnancy. I am 6 months along and not quite at the
point where I cannot lift my 2- year-old, but we're getting there. I no
longer take him on simple walks around the block because he usually
decides he doesn't want to walk any more when we're at the farthest
point from home. I choose parks that are easy in/easy out from the car,
like Thousand Oaks. Also, I find that if I give him the opportunity to
really run free in an enclosed environment (like an unused tennis
court), he is less likely to run away out in the open. Tennis courts in
the rain are a good time for a toddler.
I've taken to keeping illicit treats (like juice boxes) in the diaper
bag as a lure to calmly go back to the car when I'm ready for playtime
to be over.
I haven't gone the leash route yet but I won't hestitate to do so if
safety becomes a real issue. They make backpack-style ones now that are
cute and not so obvious.
When he's at your house, it is completely reasonable to tell him
that he needs to follow your rules, and it is completely
reasonable to tell him that if he can't do that, he will have to
leave. It would be a good idea to tell his mother first, maybe
over the phone while arranging the visit, so she also knows what
Believe me, after you do it once, it is unlikely to have to
About a month ago I carried my (hysterical) 2.5 year old out of
the local hardware store and drove her home (do not pass go, do
not purchase the necessary items) when she pitched a screaming
kicking fit about riding in the shopping cart. That sure did
make an impression, and I haven't had to argue with her about
the subject since. There is a lot to be said for letting kids
know when their behavior is unacceptable.
Hi fellow friends and neighbors!
Happy Holidays to you all.
I have a question that I need some advice from you experienced
parents about as far as disciplining my child. I hope you can help me
either with your thoughts, suggestions or just support.
I have a 16 almost 17-month-old daughter. She is a good kid. Very
sweet and well behaved (at least I think so as far as what I noticed in
comparison to other kids her age that we know)- by the way, I hate
comparisons because I do know that NO two children are alike yet I
am just trying to make a vague point. My concern and question to you
all is this; what age is it appropriate to start to really discipline a
child. NO, I don't mean spanking or anything like that what so ever! I
mean "time-outs" or whatever works. I want my daughter to be as
well behaved as possible. I know not to expect perfection and I do not
yet I also don't want to raise a whiny, spoiled child that kids may not
want to play with. I just need to know what some of you think as far
as what you did, read, etc. etc. that worked relatively well and
successful for you!?
Hope you can help me out with this
Thanks in advance.
A first time Mom that wants to raise a happy, healthy and nice child
I know exactly where you are -- we had such a child (he's now an
extremely happy and social 3.5 year old, quite empathetic and well
At around 18 months, I would pick one behavior that I wanted to change
(usually something physical -- the inevitable biting or hitting that crops
up occasionally). Then I would do two things: 1) Say ''no hitting'' (or
whatever) in a very calm tone, and 2) pick a very low-key consequence
for it (e.g. hitting mommy resulted in mommy putting him down and
leaving the room for 30 sec or so).
We didn't use time-outs for a very long time. At 2 and 2.5, he was taken
to the couch for a bit of time to ''calm down'' if need be (he didn't see this
as a bad thing; we would give him his blanket and his pacifier and allow
him to sit, untimed, until he felt better). At that age, almost all of his
tantrums were due to being hungry, anyway, so we learned to avoid
them by giving him a snack when he seemed cranky, and keeping to a
rigid lunchtime and dinnertime schedule.
We didn't begin formal ''time-outs'' (with the label, the timer, and the
notion of punishment) until our little scientist started testing, around the
time he was 3. Very formally, very systematically doing precisely what
we had just told him not to while looking us straight in the eye. Clearly
wanting to see what would happen. If there is a logical consequence
we use that (e.g. hitting something with his toy hammer when we've just
asked him not to results in our putting the hammer away for a while); if
there's no obvious consequence, he gets a time-out. Again, very calm,
and regardless of his pleading, negotiating, and crying. Actually, it's
amazing how suddenly the crying switches off when he figures out it's
not doing any good...
All in all, it seems to be working. His preschool teachers really like him,
as do our babysitters.
I started ''disciplining'' my spirited girl at around 18 months.
This was when it became pretty obvious she was defying my non-
negotiable rules or orders intentionally. (e.g., hitting or
kicking me, then deliberately sailing her foot into me after I'd
asked her to stop while changing her diaper.) She's pretty
sensitive, so the discipline started out as simple things such
as telling her if she didn't stop screaming or hitting or
whatever she was doing that needed to change, I would pick her
up and put her in the other room. This was pure hell for her,
and she would last all of 10 seconds before she would come
running back. If the behavior kept up, I'd do it again and
would tell her that she needed some time alone. Usually this
worked, and it didn't usually last more than 2 or 3 minutes. As
she's gotten older (about 27 months now), her tantrums I have
gotten more complex and longer lasting, but I can also talk to
her. I have difficulty letting an episode last more than 5
minutes, because sometimes the sobbing becomes and end in itself
and she doesn't seem to remember what she was crying about. So I
will change the scenery, or ask if she needs a hug, then talk
about what she did and what I had to do to teach her the correct
behavior. It's occasionally pretty awful, as calm as this
sounds, and I have been known to strong-arm her into her
pajamas, for example. But I generally seem to be rewarded when
I am firm by not having to fight about it next time, and as she
gets older she understands the talking more. One other thing
that works is to say, ''I'm going to count to three, and if
you're stillcrying when I get to three then I'll have to
(whatever)'' or I can give her positive incentive such as ''if you
can stop crying when I count to three then we can (do
whatever)'' The clearer I am on the consequences and helping her
understand the choices she is making, the better. The worst
thing to do, I've found, is to make a threat that you simply
won't follow through on. Give her a choice, lay out the
consequences, and follow through with it, whether it means she
doesn't get to watch her program, loses the toy for 5 minutes,
sits down (like a time out) for 2 minutes. She's also starting
to get the idea (and meaning of) ''I'm sorry'' and repeating the
rule (''no hitting''). It feels really stupid sometimes, but she
will eventually give in if she realizes that's the rule, and
those are the consequences. (It may help that she's a pretty
Our daughter is now 2 years and 9 months and we haven't yet felt
the need to ''discipline'' her per se. Once I gave her a time out,
but it was mostly because I was frustrated and I regret it. I
don't think the time out teaches her anything as it has no
connection to the ''missbehavior''.
What we've done since she was small is set clear and logical
limits (mostly vis a vis things that would hurt her) and enforce
them by saying ''no'', physically restraining her if that didn't
work or taking the object away if appropriate. For example, she
tries to climb into the sofa table, I'll say ''no''. The first
couple of times she'll try to test this limit and do it anyway -
so I go and stop her from doing it. After that, if she slips, I
just need to remind her by saying ''no'' again. The key is to
start with few, essential limits and go on from there.
IMHO, our daughter is extremely well behaved for a child her age
- but it's important to understand what a child that age can and
cannot do. Self-control, for example, doesn't come until later,
so you need to be ready to control them and not get mad when they
don't do it themselves. Explaining your logic and behavior to
them can work wonders, but you also have to be willing to accept
their own logic.
Remember that ultimately what matters is that you have a well
adjusted child, one who is confident and who doesn't need to
missbehave to gain attention or achieve other goals. So don't
focus as much on the discipline as on nurturing your child and
modeling good behavior.
Dear New Mom:
Your daughter sounds great, and it's obvious you are a very
I think the age at which children need guidance from adults is
early, and that there's a really good and effective way to
offer that guidance without alienating your child from you in
the process, which is what spanking and even time out can do.
When a child wants something or does something that can't be
allowed, such as wanting to play with sharp tin cans in the
recycling bin, you can offer some other alternative, while
saying no. Sometimes, a child can be flexible about what he/she
wants, and turn and be happy with the alternative offered.
And sometimes, saying no, even with an alternative, sparks a
big issue for the child. They ONLY want the thing they want,
and not the thing that's safer, or necessary to do at the
moment. At these moments, you partner with your child to offer
your listening and attention, while your child cries or
tantrums to release his/her feelings about not being able to do
what she wants to do. It's very simple, but not at all what
most parenting approaches teach. The beauty of it is when the
child has finished crying, what has happened is that you have
been there, accepting of her feelings but gently firm about the
limit. You have offered her yourself, your love and attention,
instead of the thing she wanted. When she has cried all the way
through her disappointment or her frustration, she'll feel
relaxed, close to you, and will make good choices again. This
works with children who are being aggressive, children who
won't settle down at night to sleep, children who want to pull
the dog's tail, with any of the things children want but
can't have, or want to do but can't be allowed to do.
When you're listening, they really cry hard. The sweeter you
are, the harder they cry. That's actually what they WANT to do--
often, they know you will have to say no, and they ask for what
you'll say no to, so they can get an emotional load off their
shoulders and restore their feelings of closeness to you--being
listened to through a good cry does it every time.
Try it. It's respectful of the child, lets you be firm on the
limit, and it goes WITH a natural emotional release process
every child wants and tries to use (children who whine are
trying to have a good cry, but don't have anyone
paying close enough attention to them to safely get into the
cry they need to have to clear up their behavior and restore
their feelings of being in charge of their lives again).
Parents Leadership Institute has a good booklet, Setting Limits
with Children, that's only $5 and is available on line at
www.parentingbyconnection.org. Hope this helps! PLI is doing
a Tantrum Training class at Habitot Children's Museum starting
March 2nd that will teach more about this approach to
children's difficult moments.
Director, Parents Leadership Institute
My child learned at about 20 months what no means. I was gently
teaching her no by wagging my finger and looking stern (on my
good days, that is, and speaking a rather firm, mean no on bad
days like when she dumps her bowl of sticky rice on the floor).
She now mimics the finger wag and ''no, no, no'' when she sees
something hot or dangerous and that was my clue that she truly
understood ''no.'' We've not used a time out yet for discipline.
If you read the book(s) on Parent Effectiveness Training, or
P.E.T, you may get some good ideas for discipline for when your
child is 3 on up. Their method is a no lose method of working
out problems TOGETHER, rather than a parent dictatorship based
on punishment or fear. I really like the approach and plan to
begin using with my daughter.
Parent working at better discipline methods
I went to seminar on ''living with ones and twos'' put on by a
nurse at Banana's recently, and she gave a lot of great advice on
discipline. She said that even at a year, you can start teaching
your child not to do certain things. For example, if your child
starts hitting people, even if only lightly, since they don't
have a great concept of force and may hit harder later on, say
'no hitting'' and give a 30 second time out by sitting the child
on your lap facing outward. Or put them somewhere that is very
boring, but only for half a minute. Do this as many times as
needed (ten times or more if the child keeps trying to touch the
oven. Say ''stay away from the stove, it's hot''. She also said to
keep the explanation very short and don't bother trying to reason
or go into great detail. Just a simple, easy to remember
sentence.) The idea is that if you give a boring, predictable
reaction, then there's little incentive to keep doing the
offending action. Anything longer than half a minute is too long
in that the child may actually forget what he's being punished
for. She also said to watch your child all the time so you will
know when you need to step in and you can do it right away when
it's happening. What's a bad idea to do is to make a big fuss by
yelling or saying no, no, no a lot or getting angry or giving
some otherwise ''interesting'' response. Modeling is great, and
best done before the child gets into a bad situation. Distraction
is also good, as well as avoiding any likely points of friction
(e.g., babyproof the VCR so you don't have to say ''no don't touch
the VCR'' all the time) if possible. Anyway, I learned quite a bit
and recommend her program at Banana's in Berkeley!
mom of one year old
My 2 year old son has been doing a lot of pushing and hitting
when he is around other kids. This started about 4 months ago
and I keep thinking it will pass (I know it is normal to some
degree) so my discipline has been fairly mild. I typically
remove him from the situaiton immediately and talk/explain
firmly, but not threateningly our overly loud, about why we
don't hit or push. Then we resume play as usual. I'm wondering
if I should take a firmer approach and if so how and what do I
do (I prefer not to spank). I'm getting to the point where I
don't want to go anywhere where we'll be around other kids like
parks or birthday parties because I'm tired of following him
around in fear he'll harm another child. I'm also tired of
treating him like he's a bad kid that has to be watched and
can't be trusted. I don't want to tell him ''no'' all day long.
He is a sweet, loveable and cooperative child in every other
way. Much of this behavior started with the birth of his little
sister 4 months ago. How much of this is typical ''terrible
twos'' behavior and how much is acting out because of a new
sibling in the house? When will it stop and what can I do to
enforce consistent and reliable discipline measures? What I'm
doing now isn't working. After our talk he will usually go right
back and do it again. How do you enforce firm discipline in a 2
I would begin a firm act up-go home policy. Tell him beforehand
that going out is a privilege, and that if he hits anyone you
will go home. When he hits, go home. Don't reproach or scold,
or say I told you so, just leave. If he asks why, explain
matter-of-factly. Don't give in to begging to stay. He is
little, so it may take 10 or more times before it sinks in, but
it will sink in.
You are right to be concerned about this behaviour. Not only is
it cutting into what should be a fun playtime for him with other
kids but it will make it difficult for you to arrange playdates
and transition him into school at some point. Now is the time
to get the message across to him that it is not okay to hit and
push. I applaud your self-control in not yelling at him and
certainly spanking would be counter productive and confusing.
My background. I have two kids, one is four and one is five. I
won't go into the details but they have all kinds of issues that
might have caused them to act this way but I never put up with
it. They are generally very well behaved kids -- no hitting,
pushing or grabbing and no tantrums. I have an idea for you
that does not require yelling, spanking, or saying no repeatedly.
The good news is that you are already half way there! Removing
him from the situation immediatly is perfect. But since that
and and the 'talking to' is not working I would take it to the
next level by telling him that if he hits or pushes there will
be no resumption of play.
Here is what I would do. Next time you are about to let him
loose in a social situation lay down the law with him before he
starts to play. Keep it simple, just ''I can't let you play with
others of you hit/push. You can choose to play nicely and we
will stay or you can choose to hit/push and we will leave''. The
first time you pack him into the car he will be stunned. The
second time (and maybe third and fourth...) he will throw a
fit. Always be sure to give him the same little speach ''You
hit/pushed which means we have to leave''. Don't reinforce the
bad behaviour by then going and doing something fun. Just take
him and home and say...''okay, now you are going to have to play
At the same time focus on giving him strategies for dealing with
frustration that do not involve hitting or pushing. Stuff like,
using words to express his feelings, taking turns, walking away
or saying 'quit it', getting help from an adult (althought this
last one is a slippery slope). He will benefit for the rest of
his life from the mastery of these concepts.
As for not wanting to following him around and not trusting
him. Unfortunately, for the safety of the other kids and so
that *you* can build the trust of the other parents you are
going to have to do this until he gets himself under control.
Finally, I recommend that you don't try to figure this out by
attaching some sort of an explanation about the arrival of a
sibling. Its just a pure waste of time and energy. He's doing
what he's doing for what ever reason... you just need to help
him understand that its not right and that he has
We experienced the same problems with our son and resorted to
all types of disciplines (including spanking, which I said I
would never do). We finally re-grouped, spoke with an expert
(Meg Zweibeck), and came up with a solution that worked for us.
Her advise was to make the discipline as boring as possible
(which was the opposite of what we were doing - getting very
upset, taking him aside, talking to him at length, yelling - we
ran the gamut of all the wrong things to do). She suggested
separating the two children who were involved and having our son
go somewhere boring (sitting quietly on the stairs, for instance
for a minute or so). That was his one warning. If he did it
again, we told him we would go home. Only use this if you are
actually prepared to follow through with it and leave. She even
suggested having a playdate with the intention of leaving once a
problem arose in order to let him know we were serious. The
other thing that worked for us with daycare was, if he hit or
punched (or bit or pushed, etc. - we had to list every possible
offense)during the day at daycare, he got no treats (including
no dessert or whatever special toy he was into that week) and no
TV for that evening. This really did the trick. There were a
few offenses after that, but they were far and few between. Of
course, you would take away whatever your child is really
attached to. We also had to remind him every morning about the
rules. I hope this helps and you might be able to nip this in
the bud sooner than we did! Good Luck!
When my son was an infant I read in Dr. Sears Baby Book what I thought
sounded like great discipline advice - "save your scary, concerned
voice for the really important, dangerous messages - e.g. don't run
into the street".
I'm not a yeller, so it was easy for me to "save that voice" until the
appropriate moment - don't play with outlets, don't touch the stove,
etc. But from the first moment I used it, my son only LAUGHED at the
change in my tone (still does - very frustrating). We do use Time Outs
when behavior starts to go too far, but now at 2 1/2, my husband and I
are concerned with his lack of appropriate fear/ respect/ danger
towards the necessary things in this world. I don't think he's "out of
control", and though fairly fearless at the park, I know he does tend
to boss other kids around with the phrases he hears.
Good habits start early, and if he's doing the same things he is now
as a teen, one of us may not survive! Any words of advice, books, etc?
For me, the most part of discipline was teaching the behavior I wanted
-- ie. Hold my hand at the corner and even when we were walking in
busy neighborhoods. I also think, controlling your toddler's space as
much as possible is helpful -- I insisted on using the stroller in a
number of situations where either the car or pedestrian traffic would
be to intense. That said, Toddlers are creatures of impulse, and it
takes hundreds of repetitions to teach the most basic of rules. It
gets better at 3-1/2 when they can start to understand other people's
feelings. For us, there was also a noticable improvement at 5.
I too survived this kind of reaction in my toddler boys, an apparent
disregard for my warnings and obvious (to me) dangers. The laughing
really sends you over the fence, doesn't it? I think you need to plan on
being their "boundary" for awhile, and trust that they do actually hear
you although they don't act like it. I found that my kids later asked
about all the scary things I warned them about (cars, getting lost, and
strangers), but only on their own schedules, not when we were in the
midst of the situation. Meantime I discovered (though I wish I had
sooner, as always), that if I could moderate my emotional reaction and
simply remove them from the danger each time, they did finally "get" what
they could and could not do. You can't trust them to be responsible for
their own safety AT ALL at this age, but you can teach them what safety
rules are/boundaries are, and then consistently enforce them. Somehow,
eventually they do internalize them. Another trick I learned from our
pediatrician is too have the conversation ahead of time, when you
anticipate a situation, when you are all calm, and then remind them at
the time,of your expectation that they will remember or cooperate etc.
just before going into the park or store or wherever. Good luck!
My wife would probably kill me if she read this but, here goes. Our son
is about to turn two. As you might guess, at this age he pays little
heed to danger. But, he's learning gradually. For example, when I take
him to the playground, I give him a little space around the age
appropriate equipment. He's fallen off or tripped several times. I let
him go so long as he's not too high up and he'll land in the wood chips.
He's learning about his limitations by knowing what it feels like to
lose control and take a tumble. As a result he's more careful and more
confident. Obviously, I counter other more dangerous situations, like
traffic or sharp objects, by removing him from the danger. But,
whenever possible I let him discover for himself what's dangerous and
Discipline at 19 Months
Our daughter is 19 months old. We don't believe that hitting or other
corporal punishment is right for our family, so we are avoiding that
as a means of discipline.
Unfortunately, there are times when consequences need to be
demonstrated swiftly and decisively. The way I was brought up, a
whack across the behind delivered the message. The positive thing
about that was that it was over immediately, whereas alternative
punishments can drag out for what to a toddler's mind is an
Our daughter, when reprimanded, will "escalate" the encounter,
running through all the things she knows we have prohibited, usually
ending with her spitting. (Gets a good reaction from us!) This
process is quite normal, and it doesn't bother me per se: She is only
retesting the boundaries. But I need a firm way of reaffirming the
My sister, as I recall, took a middle ground with her kids (all grown
now.) She would very deliberately, and in a calm, measured way, draw
the child aside and administer a token slap - more a tap, really - on
the hand. I don't know how she did it, but they always got the clear
message that it was "punishment", even though it was clearly neither
painful nor frightening.
I tried this approach with my daughter, but she considers the tap on
the hand a big joke, and launches into the gamut of prohibited
activities, winding up with a good spit.
I tried restraining her arms when she was engaging in bad behavior -
just hold her hands and tell her to stop. That turned into a battle
of wills, to see who could struggle the longest. I gave that up after
a few tries. It really did not feel right to be that embattled.
So how do you do it? How does one deliver an instant and clear
message that certain behavior will not be tolerated, without hitting?
I think that "positive redirection" is the most effective alternative.
Just immediately turn the child toward an appropriate acitivity.
They get the message and punishment is not needed.
Wow, toddler disipline -- this is a tough one. I have a 23-month-old
and struggle with my *own* temper, almost daily. What I have found
works best is to 1. limit my reaction to the forbidden activity as
much as possible, and 2. move the child away from the offensive
object/activity. I had originally followed my sister's model
of "flicking" my child's hand when she did something offensive, but I
realized after a while that it is no better than hitting. The purpose
is to inflict pain, and I don't believe in that, so I decided I'm not
going to do it. Besides, when I do, she cries like hell and it makes
me feel terrible and then I end up apologizing, which totally
I assure you, this isn't always easy to do, but when my kid starts
doing something that's not okay, but not unsafe (e.g. throwing food,
climbing on the coffee table, etc.), I try to react as little as
possible, simply looking away from her and continuing to eat, or even
leaving the room. Not raising my voice, I might say, "Throwing food
is not okay." With food, I might take away her plate, calmly
asking, "All done?" Not reacting with my instinctive reaction
(raising my voice, grabbing her food away, etc.) takes the enjoyment
right out of it for her. If what she's doing is unsafe or making a
mess (e.g. dumping water out of the bath, climbing the bookcase),
I calmly remove the cup from her hand and/or physically remove her to
another space, saying something positive like, "Bathwater stays in the
bath" or whatever. If I have to do it five times in a row, so be it.
It's not easy, especially when I'm in a cranky mood, but I'm the
grownup and I am working on disciplining *myself* to do it right. I'm
not opposed to saying, "No!" if it needs to be said, but I try to
follow the "positive discipline" model and say what she *can* do, and
only if necessary say what she can't do. E.g. instead of, "No
standing on your highchair!" I say "Put your bottom on the chair,
like mama." I try to keep my instructions short, e.g. "Don't touch."
or "Biting people is not okay, let's find something else you can
bite." Maybe you can tell your daughter spitting is okay if she's at
the sink, or give her a "spitting cup" where she can spit to her
heart's content. I feel it's my job as the grownup to find some way to
redirect my kid or distract her from the unwanted action, even if my
temper is flaring and it's the 20th incident that day. Needless to
say, I don't succeed every time, but practice does indeed make it
I think the period from 18 to 24 months is the hardest for this kind
of thing, but trust me, be patient and she will learn. I noticed
after a while that my kid only occasionally hangs up the phone while
I'm on the portable, and hardly ever climbs on the coffee table any
more (except if we have guests -- surprise, surprise! It took me a
while to figure out this is not coincidence!). They have so much to
learn, and I truly believe that with imagination and patience, we can
teach them without hitting them. Best of luck.
It's wonderful that you are avoiding corporal punishment. Try picking
her up and taking her away from the setting and giving her a time-
out. Ideally she should sit down for a minute or two (a timer may
help). If she won't sit though, you have to decide whether you want
to physically hold her down or just put her in her room (if it's
child-proofed). If you're out you can put her in her car seat and
buckle it. You may have to force her into the seat, but...
What worked for us and for our day care provider was "the thinking
chair." We just placed our kids in a chair for a specified period of
time and told them what they had done that was not acceptable and
told them they had to sit there for a period of time and think about
it. At the end of the time, not usually very long for little ones,
we discussed what was not OK about their behavior and then they could
get up. Remarkably, it works most of the time. It sounds like you
may have one of those smart "push the envelope" kids and I got a lot
from listening to Helen Neville who works at Kaiser in Oakland and
specializes in the "spirited child." She gives a lot of support and
creative ways to approach your child's different way of dealing with
issues. Consistency is key in all cases. Good luck!
For ordinary discipline try the 'time out' method. Remove the child
from whatever activity is happening. Have them be separate for a few
minutes. There's more to this method but I've forgotten it - someone
else will elaborate, perhaps. My mom used to have us stand in a
corner! I think that is a similar approach.
You can also try giving an 'order' and counting to 10 out loud. It is
amazing how often that works. By 10 your wish has been carried out
(but not much sooner!).
For serious or dangerous behavior (e.g., reaching for something too
hot) your voice alone can stop the child by its high pitch and
definitive 'No!' Even to this day I can use a different voice for
immediate and complete quiet in the car when I'm driving the kids and
find myself in a situation where I have to concentrate on the road.
Use 'I' language if you can. It's harder for us who did not grow up
with it. "I need... I want... I feel...' Instead of "You should...
you must... you know..."
And the more 'holding time' the better, when you just hold your young
child and sometimes sing or talk quietly and pay attention to them
with your eyes and arms. My son, when young, and especially after the
birth of his sister, needed daily sessions for holding time, and then
his behavior improved.
I remember all too well the feeling that you describe: If this
escalation in behavior continues - what is the endpoint. I can only
say that my 3 1/2 year old no longer demonstrates quite the same
level of escalation. He seems to have developed some internal
control (? conscience). What did we do that seems to have helped? -
a) We tried to be consistent and clear about the behaviors that were
unacceptable - hitting, throwing food, etc.
b) removing him from the situation; eg. putting him in his room for
some time alone, he can choose when to come out; but if the behavior
continues, he went right back into his room.
c) following through with natural consequences of his actions eg.
taking a toy away if he was using it as a weapon, taking food away if
he was throwing it, or, even, taking myself out of the room. All of
this is very hard work; I am very interested in other parents'
In response to the recent inquiry about toddler discipline, I'd like
to recommend a book that I have found to be a wonderful, enlightened,
empowering guide to some very difficult parenting issues, entitled:
Redirecting Children's Behavior: Discipline that Builds Self-Esteem,
by Kathryn Kvols. (The publisher is INCAF Publications in Gainesville,
Florida.) This is a wise, caring, and highly practical guide to some
of the very tough issues we all face as parents. I have gained great
insights from this book and apply its teachings often. It is useful
whether kids are little, medium, or pretty big. Topics include
agression, negotiation, problem-solving, sibling rivalry, consequences
and limit setting, all in an appropriately supportive context.
We've especially found the suggestion of the family meeting a very
useful one, and one night each week my husband, two kids (ages 3 and
5) and I convene for a meeting to discuss any issues that have arisen
over the previous few days. Now, when something comes up, my
daughter will say, "Now there's an issue I'll need to remember for
Sunday night." We record our conversations in a special notebook,
and check on our progress at subsequent meetings. It's been a great
communication tool for our family and is helping to set the stage
when the road gets rocky as they get older. (If any other digest
readers have similar ideas for enhanced family communication, I'd
love to learn of them.) Anyway, this is just one of several good
ideas to have come from this book. Kathyrn Kvols speaks from time to
time in the Bay Area, and was most recently hosted by the Habitot
Museum last year.
We never had to do anything beyond a "time out", which means 2
minutes in the crib with the railing up. This did not make the crib
a hated place for sleeping, by the way. If you have another safe,
self-contained space in the house, use that instead. Then we go in
and repeat the rule she violated that time such as "no kicking on the
changing table, okay?" or "no hitting Mama, okay?" She more or less
agrees through her sobs, because she wants an end to "time out" and
she knows that we then take her out and continue playing or
whatever. Toddlers know from the tone of our voices when they did
something wrong. They also don't like to have their activities
interrupted. "Time out" is a very useful tool for relevant
violations. (Don't overdo it. Pick your battles based on safety
issues). We don't surprise her with it either. When she misbehaves
and seems to want to continue, we ask her firmly if she wants a "time
out" (providing a warning and a choice), which she always declines.
In 90% of the cases the bad behavior will stop immediately, if it
doesn't, she'll get "time out". A nice variety, if the bad behavior
involves an object, is to give the object "time out" somewhere out of
sight until forgotten. We always use that option first, rather than
subjecting our daughter to a "time out".
There is no reason to spank children or slap their hands. You can
gain firm control on safety issues but if you want control over all
kinds of stuff (such as "eat this now") you're on lost ground trying
to raise an individual person with whatever method you apply.
A lot of how your child responds to your efforts at discipline may have to
do with certain temperament traits she has. It's helpful to understand your
child's temperament when you're trying to figure out discipline and other
Neighborhood Moms is sponsoring an event with two reknowned speakers on
child temperament on Thursday, April 29, from 7-9 p.m. at Zion Lutheran
Church, 5201 Park Blvd., Piedmont (just below Hwy. 13). Dr. James Cameron,
executive director of the Preventive Ounce, and Rona Renner, R.N., family
educator at Kaiser Permanente in Richmond and parenting talk show host on
KPFA, will discuss what temperament is and how parents can identify their
children's temperament traits and work with them instead of against them.
Parents Disagree about Discipline for 13-month-old
I'm hoping someone can recommend a parenting class or some
kind of "expert" (or book?) to consult about discipline and
related issues. My husband and I are first-time parents of a
13-month-old. We have pretty different parenting styles,
particularly when the baby is doing something he shouldn't be.
For example, when our son hits me in the face, I'll tell him in
a normal voice that he shouldn't do that or we don't hit in our
house, catch his hands to prevent him doing it again, and try to
distract him and move on to something else. My husband is more
likely to get angry and use an angry tone of voice and/or put
him in his crib (crying) for a timeout. This is very distressing
to me. I was afraid of my father and don't want my son to be.
The two of us argue about what the right approach is in many
situations, but we're certainly not experts on how to rear children
and neither of us has much evidence to back up our positions.
It doesn't help that on several other issues that we've tried to
research there seems to be a fairly wide range of opinion among
the authors of baby books, mostly without any apparent foundation
other than personal preference. I don't have a lot of faith that
the situation would be much better regarding this issue (but I'd
love to be wrong on that).
This is getting to be a real problem between us. I imagine some
of you have been in a similar situation, and I'd like to know how
you dealt with it. Thanks in advance.
To the parent looking for a parenting class, I recommend a class
called "Redirecting Children's Behavior". We attended a six-week,
3-hour per week class provided by my niece's day care provider in
Alameda. It was very eye-opening for both my husband and me and
provided a forum for us to discuss how we wanted to raise our
daughter. We attended the class about 1 year ago and continue to
refer to the concepts that we learned about in this class.
Here is a web site with information about the class and also Kathryn
Kvols book, "Redirecting Children's Behavior":
The website has a listing of class instructors too. Best of luck to
you and your family.
I have two recommendations... The first is "The Discipline Book" by
Dr. William Sears. It's a great book and discusses discipline from
birth to adolescence. It's coming from an "attachment parenting"
perspective. Another book is P.E.T., "Parent, Effectiveness,
Training" and emphasizes non-punative discipline. Also it might be a
good idea to do some web searching on Diane Baumrinds (I think that's
the spelling) work on parenting style's. She discusses authoritative,
authoritarian, and permissive parenting and the impact that each can
have on a child. It could be good information to help your husband
understand that there are better ways.... Good Luck...
William & Martha Sears have a few books about babies and parenting that
I really enjoy and rely on--their The Discipline Book might have some
ideas for you. They're parents of 8 kids, I think, and very
In regard to the request for training/book suggestions for Discipline,
I would like to highly recommend two different discipline books i
have found exceptionally helpful. They are:
Discipline for Life - Getting it Right with Children, By Madeline Swift and
Smart Love by Martha Heineman Piper and William Piper
The Smart Love book starts with infancy - and while i don't
necessarily agree with all the specific recommendations about weaning
and sleeping, overall the book advocates an extremeley tender,
perceptive, forgiving approach to what they call "Loving Regulation"
as opposed to discipline. They have a psychology background and the
book definitely has an emphasis on long-term psycological well-being.
They are decidedly anti-permissive, so that may please your husband -
and they are also extremely anti-harsh-discipline. I think you'll
like the book!
The Discipline for Life book has lots of concrete examples of
situations from preschool age on up (I don't remember any infant/young
toddler stuff, but your child will be an older toddler very soon!) and
I believe there is a training program/packet that one can order from
the back of the book - but I haven't seen that. The gist of this book
is building life-long self-discipline in your child, as opposed to
handign down discipline that actually erodes self-discipline in the
long run. It was also very helpful to me and several people I know
who read it. Good luck!
For the example you gave (how to handle your son's hitting) my
personal opinion is that your husband's technique is probably better--
a loud "no" and a (very brief) timeout will be more effective (and are
not too harsh) for hitting. By 13 mos. your son is making the
connection between what he is doing and the consequences, so you can
take steps other than just distracting him. Even a loud angry NO will
not scare him unduly. I think that holding the child's hands down just
teaches him that you are physically stronger, and you want to get the
emphasis away from physical reactions. But for the larger issue, you
should really try to do counseling, because it can be such a stressful
thing for the entire family when Mom and Dad have different views
about discipline. It is very hard for both of you when your "gut" is
telling you one thing and your husband another. A good counselor who
can help you figure out how to resolve these issues in a way you're
both comfortable with is one of the best gifts you can give your
When you say your husband speaks in an angry voice and puts your son
in his crib for a time out, does he get red-in-the-face angry, shout
loudly enough to scare you or handle your son roughly? If not, if his
response is more moderate than that, it is within an acceptable range
of behavior. It is appropriate to speak in a moderately angry voice
and put a 13-month old in his crib if he hits you. It's also
appropriate to speak in a normal voice and restrain him. Fathers do
tend to be firmer with children and mothers tend to be more
protective. These are normal differences. You are both communicating
disapproval of his behavior, and as long as your ways of doing so are
effective and moderate, your child will perceive you as being
consistent and safe in your responses to him.
Re: the question about different parenting styles, I'd recommend the
book When Partners Become Parents, by Cowan & Cowan. It discusses
many of the problems that typically arise in relationships after
children are born.
I like the Disciplne book by Sears. BUT, as you say, you can find
every style that you want in these parenting books, which means it is
really up to you to decide. This Sears book goes along with their
attachment-style parenting. They do not advocate time outs and harsh
words for 1 year olds, and I also found this to be ineffective
disciplne. It seems to help the yelling parent let off steam, but
does not teach good behavior to a child. Distraction works better at
this age. By two years, time outs will help, but not at one (my
personal opinion, and experience). I don't think yelling ever helps.
However, you raise another issue, that of both parents agreeing on
what is appropriate. I agree, it might be more productive to go to a
class or a "consultant" than to a book. However, having taken a few
seminars at Banana's, I can tell you that you can find teachers who
run the whole spectrum of harsh to gentle disciplne just like the
parenting books. So, what I would recomend to you is a
couples/parents therapist. If you husband won't go, go by yourself.
I did this, and it is helping both of us a lot. See the web site for
recomendations, or e-mail me. I think
it is OK to have different levels of strictness, but it is ideal if
both parents agree that neither is out of line. Good luck!
When you consider a parenting class, you may want to note what you
already know: there is NO one way to parent that all experts (or
parents!) will agree on. I think that the underlying need is for you
to find ways to help each of you focus on what values and needs of
yours are present in your different choices, find a way to connect
with each other about your different needs, and through that establish
trust, connection, and communication that will help you parent with
more harmony and understanding and ultimately provide more of what you
want for your son.
In the Bay Area, seven trainers (including me) teach a process called
Nonviolent Communication that has been successfully used
internationally to help couples, families, schools, organizations and
warring nations to reach a deeper connection and understanding. Its
basic premise is that the deepest level of understanding between
people or peoples can be reached by connecting with the feelings and
needs that motivate our actions, rather than with our thoughts and
ideas alone. It is a profound, simple, challenging process, which has
been of tremendous help to me as a parent and in relationship with my
partner, so much so that I have decided I want to share what I've
learned. I am now in the midst of creating special workshops in
Nonviolent Communication for parents. Check out the
organization's web site at www.cnvc.org.
In response to the issue of parenting styles: our kids are now 7 and
5, and my husband and I have been wrestling with these issues for
about 7 years, give or take. His fuse is much shorter, he is much
more inclined to let the kids "cry it out", and he walks away in a
fraction of the time I do. His home of origin was characterized by
intolerance and a lot of free floating anger, and while he has done a
lot of soul searching to become a good parent, and has made quantum
leaps, we still have very different styles that are in full relief
when the kids need us most. So: some years ago, we each (at different
times) took the same parenting class, from Diane Chapman (who may
still be teaching this class - which I highly recommend. We took our
class at Hearts Leap School - I don't know if she still teaches it
there.) Diane uses a book in the workshop which has become our
family's best child-rearing companion: Redirecting Children's
Behavior: Discipline that Builds Self-Esteem. It is filled with
practical guidance about natural consequences (like not threatening to
eliminate tv for a week if the kid isn't going to bed on time, but
rather moving bedtime earlier for each night the kid goes to bed later
than is scheduled, for instance). It is a book that both my husband
and I could embrace, very empathetic, clear, infinitely practical and
deeply loving and respectful of the child's spirit. I highly
recommend it. The author is Kathryn Kvols - she was scheduled to
speak last year at the Habitot Museum, but had to reschedule, so I
don't know if she'll be coming this way anytime soon. If she does, I
will definitely be in the audience, as she has been an important
parenting teacher of mine.
One other thing we learned from this class: You can't teach a drowning
person to swim. You can't teach a life lesson to a child (or husband)
who is upset. Work things out during calm times. Talk in advance
about how to handle a situation before it arises (when, in Diane's
language, "intensity is low.") If you know that you can't bear to
have your kids "cry it out," (which is true for me), let that be
known. My husband hates it when I intervene, but I tell him in
advance that he can do what he can works things out his own way up
until the time he walks away, leaving hurt feelings behind, and at
that point I will need to take action, even if it means interfering.
But now he knows that about me, and understands that is how things
will need to be. Best of luck.
To the Mom whose son hits her in the face-
Think about it from your son's point of view. "I hit Mommy in the
face... what happens? Oh, Daddy gets mad. Daddy will not allow me
to hit Mommy." This makes the child feels safe. A child does not
want to be more powerful than the parent. If you are not even
strong enough to protect yourself from your child hitting you, how
can your child believe that you are strong enough to protect him from
real or imaginary dangers. The world is a scary place to little ones,
and we need to be strong for them.
When the child loses control, he wants the parent to step in and help
him. Your husband loves his son and is trying to do what he thinks
is best. To ignore your child's inappropriate behavior by distracting
him is abandoning him morally. Don't be so sensitive, he is not
fragile and your husband is not trying to destroy the kid's self
image. Don't project your own bad childhood experiences on your
son. Time-out is not cruel torture, it is appropriate discipline to
the behavior. Trust your husband. He is not the same as your
Rona Renner's parenting workshops (2 people)
this page was last updated: May 28, 2008
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