Note to Self: On Discipline

1.47.27I’ve never really been much of a kid person. I do like kids, but I’m usually awkward around them. I rarely babysat, and I was usually the youngest or surrounded by other kids my age growing up, so I didn’t get much experience. No secret that I didn’t want to be a teacher or lead Sunday school at church. But now that I have a kid of my own, this “new mom” thing is changing into mom-of-a-toddler, and I feel like I’m so unorganized in my thoughts on how to raise one. Yes, most of my friends and people we are around have families with 2 or more kids, so I know there are plenty of helpers out there with loads of advice. This doesn’t quite ease my concern of entering the dreaded “Terrible Twos” or worst yet, the “Terrifying Threes,” however.

Wes is usually a great kid. He’s happy when we’re at home, especially in the morning, and can give our undivided attention. He naps well, he sleeps through the night. He’s eating much better (less throwing of food) and even starting to explore utensils. But we’re starting to see glimpses of near-future tantrums, and I’m already sick and tired of his constant whining and tears. He loves to say “no” back to us, and he grins and giggles when I try to steer him away from danger or stop misbehavior.

He’s not quite 18 months old yet, and I believe he’s much too young to discipline by way of time outs or the like. Yet, I have been pouring over books on what-to-do-when’s for some things to keep in my back pocket. And truly, there are quite a few things I can do in the interim.

  1. Determine if he’s in “Changeling Mode”* or getting sick. It might help make me less upset about said behavior.
  2. When the kid is grounded, I am grounded, too. I should stay close when Wes is in time out to make sure he a) doesn’t sneak away and 2) is assured he isn’t abandoned completely. “You will never be effective disciplining your child if you don’t stop what you’re doing and give the discipline your undivided attention.” So, whether I’m outside the door or sitting directly beside him, I need to put aside time to attend him.
  3. Like the above, when tantrums happen, it’s likely because he’s upset or frustrated and loses control, unable to get a grip (maybe like my mood swings when I was pregnant?!). It’s important for him to realize that I’m his source of security and comfort because, frankly, losing control can be scary. I should remove him from the tantrum location to a private area, and ride it out with him. Hold him close (if he wants) and be silent or gently speak. Then we can resume whatever we were doing when he’s settled.
  4. Let him know that I understand and see that he is upset. Most importantly, let him know that it’s okay to feel whatever he does, and normal, but that we can’t act out on our anger or frustration.
  5. Avoid situations and places that he simply can’t handle. Long days, visits and outings just may have to come another time.
  6. Forget “Mommyspeak.” I think talking to him in the third person is just confusing.
  7. I shouldn’t feel guilty for his misbehavior or guilty for denying him something he wants. Why should I feel bad for trying to be a good parent?
  8. ENCOURAGE him! We already do this because it’s truly the only way to get Wes to repeat good behavior. But I want to remind myself that this is also to show him that we respect and admire him.

In several months, I will probably start implementing the 1-2-3 Magic principles. My fear is that I will need to be more firm that I am comfortable with because he is quite good at testing his boundaries. Sweet, innocent Wesley has a firey, ornery spirit, but he does love encouragement and recognition.

Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Ugghhh, I know this is true, but I’m so easily affected by what others feel from my actions, that I will have to really remind myself of this. After all, I’m not the first parent to ever live, right? You all have made it, so surely I can, too.

*Changeling is an affectionate term used to describe a toddler who is always learning something new. They’re not quite children, but they’re certainly not babies and the world is just frustrating to them. The Wonder Weeks refers to these times as phases.

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Curious to know what books I’m reading? I asked my social media friends, and here’s a list thus far:

1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan (I’m reading the “for Christian Parents” edition)
1, 2, 3… the Toddler Years┬áby Irene Van der Zande
The Girlfriends’ Guide to Toddlers by Vicki Iovine
Parenting with Love & Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay

Posted: January 6th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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