mainly i am realizing that i need to document some family stuff. so really this is how to discipline our toddler. this month.
so that we have memories. so that i preserve some emotions. and so that my children can know and see the experiences that shaped them. i don’t get super emotional but i plan to hang onto this blog and maybe do something like this with it each year.
so, last month we realized we need a plan for discipline or else our child was going to be that child.
do you think this little lady would ever need discipline?
so that she wouldn’t be the one running away from her parents at the fair and pushing other kids over to steal their balloon, throwing a fit when someone else gets their funnel cake first, and then hitting her mom when she’s swooped up. but, ultimately, so that she would know that her heart is sinful and needs to obey authority and as her parents, God has given us that authority in her life right now. she obeys God by obeying us, and it is our role to teach and train her.
we’ve watched others go before us and spent some time thinking about her age and what she can understand.
we got a bit of good instruction from wiser, older parents:
- start with safety issues. for example, a child will be burned by a hot stove. they may not understand burns, and how to know if the stove is off or on, so for now your child must know that they can’t touch the stove. similarly, they may not run into the street.
- stop giving chances. a child will quickly learn how many warnings you give them before they are punished and push you to the limit. for something they know they are not supposed to do, they can be disciplined on the first offense. if it’s something new that’s just come up, tell them first that it’s not allowed and give them the chance to make the right or wrong decision next time the situation arises.
- figure out how you are going to discipline. at 18 months, she is easily distracted – punishment needs to take place quickly so that she relates it to the disobedience.
- explain to them what is going on. when a child is disciplined, they must know it is because mommy or daddy gave them instruction and they didn’t follow it. mommy and daddy love them. mommy and daddy want them to obey. it’s not actually what they did that is so terrible, it’s that they didn’t obey. ultimately it is not their bad or good actions that will condemn or save them, but the overall fact that their life did not obey Jesus when he said, “follow me.”
We started with safety issues and then finished out the list with a few other things we don’t want her doing at our house or at other people’s houses. our list has 8 things on it and i wrote them on the white board in the kitchen so that jon and i can both easily reference them. Here is our “NO” list:
- grabbing the oven handle. this prevents her from pulling open a hot oven or getting her fingers up by a hot stove.
- touching the powerstrip under the TV. this houses a lot of electricity for the TV, DVD player, router, etc. and it has a tempting lit-up orange button on it.
- going past the end of the car in the driveway. toward the street.
- hitting. no explanation needed.
- screaming when mad. tantrums. no.
- taking books off the upper bookshelves. the first two shelves of the bookcase are full of toys. play with anything on them, but don’t reach up to the heavy cookbooks that smash your toes when you pull them down and they fall to the floor.
- standing on the couch. the couch is for sitting.
- playing with the remote. general courtesy for people’s stuff.
these rules help us to know what to discipline as much as they help her to know what she will be disciplined for. she knows these rules. she couldn’t recite them for you, but if she’s doing something on the list she’s either looking at you to see if you’re watching, or she’s mad and showing it by being openly defiant.
when she disobeys, she is told no, that she may not disobey mama/dada by doing whatever is was that she was doing, quickly but firmly pinched on the back of her leg at the top of her thigh, and then hugged and told that we love her. we then usually put her back down and guide her to or suggest to her one of the million things she is allowed to do.
the pinch is working. it’s quick and snaps her out of whatever it is that she is doing. to spank, we would really need to remove her from a situation and take off her nicely padded cloth diaper. by that time, i don’t know if it would still be clear what the punishment is associated to at her age.
there is a ton of freedom for her outside of those eight rules. with the rules, i don’t feel like i have to be telling her ‘no’ all the time. sure, things come up – like we are outside and she goes to stick the nasty hose in her mouth – and at that point, I tell her to please take the hose out of her mouth. nine times out of ten, she does. because there is some order in her life, and we are consistent, and when we say ‘no’ we mean it, so she obeys when she’s asked.
within 48 hours of disciplining like this, she began to generally obey. she was avoiding the things she knew she wasn’t supposed to do, and she responded if we needed to say ‘no’ in other situations. she is listening to me, so that the rest of the time, our days are fun. we are joyful and loving and we enjoy the things around us. we show her God’s love and creation.
people do things differently, but this is working for us, right now, with this specific child.
man, don’t we sound like fun parents?