HOW to change to grace-based discipline? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 07-16-2009, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
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i have only searched back a few of the current posts, so not sure if this topic has been dealt with ad nauseum, but, please, i need help, and i hope this is the place to start in the right direction.
i will start off by saying that i've been a spanker and yeller towards my 3yo and even to my 18mo. i cringe in writing that b/cs it breaks my heart. what really breaks my heart more than that is that i haven't even always done that form of "discipline" calmly and rationally, but rather emotionally and even in anger.
i'm relatively new to the concept of grace-based parenting, but i know in my heart that it's the right thing, and my dh is on board 100%. the problem is, neither of us really know how to move forward in terms of getting over our bad habits, and also wonder how much it's going to affect our boys in the transitioning to a more "off your butt" approach and really trying to positively discipline... train instead of beat (so to speak). i'll admit i'm scared. i'm scared of my temper and i'm scared that now that they've "responded" to spankings and my frustrations that they won't want to respond to anything else, even if it's more positive. is this erroneous?
i'm reading 2 books right now: grace based discipline (a christian parenting book) and easy to love/difficult to discipline. the info so far is good, but i'm still overwhelmed w/ the literal HOW-TO part of moving forward. can anyone here help me w/ some specific suggestions/advice? and if nothing else, i'll just take encouragement that it can be done!!!

(also, a specific scenario that i'm dealing w/ on a daily, sometimes hourly basis is how do you deal w/ conflict when you're nursing the newborn who mind you has a terrible, terrible latch and we're still really struggling w/ breastfeeding entirely and so it takes up so much of my day right now, and then the older 2 start fussing/fighting/whatever... do you stop tending the baby to physically intervene even tho he needs to eat and re-establishing a latch could take another 30-45 minutes, or do you yell across the room (!) to get the boys to stop it, to have them *possibly* obey??)

mama to Bear, 3, Bunkin, 19mo, and Lil'Bit, 2wks
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#2 of 12 Old 07-16-2009, 06:12 PM
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I have no answers for you, but I wanted to stop in and say welcome and give you some hugs!

You are a wonderful mother and a very courageous person to say, "this isn't right, I need some help." That is a hard thing to say, especially for parents I think.

Some very smart mamas will be along soon with great advice.

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#3 of 12 Old 07-16-2009, 06:37 PM
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no idea on the discipline, but some practical ideas for nursing time (and i realize that's nearly ALL the time with a NB) are to have a box of "nursing time" toys, maybe some videos if you do that (and even if you don't, you might consider it just until you get the latch issue worked out and baby is a tad older and more efficient), special books you can read once baby is latched, snacks handy or handed out as you sit down to nurse, 'simon says' might be a fun game to play once in a while (and you could even trick them into cleaning something up in the process!! )....uh.....'mother may i' is another game option. that's all i've got for now, but it might get you somewhere. good luck!! hang in there, and be gentle with yourself as well as your LOs. its tough having a NB and olders. really really tough!!

eta: just thought of another idea. when they get to fighting, just start singing something. anything. it just might distract them enough and change the mood. seems like singing is magical sometimes! now if i can only get myself to remember this in the thick of it!!

~helen~ mama to 5 yo twins jonas and micah and my 2 yo baby boy eli
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#4 of 12 Old 07-16-2009, 06:47 PM
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There are lots of practical ideas at the author and creator of GBD's website, Check the quick reference section.
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#5 of 12 Old 07-16-2009, 11:49 PM
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Lots of good stuff here too ...I'm still learning at all this too. DS is 15 months old. To get started i'd say you just have to start doing it. You'll learn as you go and get better at and somedays you'll probably suck at it and other days it will be all awesome. Get familiar with some of the basic tools that work for the ages of your kids. The hardest part will be sort of retraining yourself to respond differently. It's very hard for me. I'm a yeller too. My dad was a yeller. I just find it happening before I even know whats come over me.
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#6 of 12 Old 07-17-2009, 05:59 AM
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When I was starting out, there were a few things that helped me:

1. I gave up trying to change discipline. I couldn't help others until I was under control. Once I learned techniques for dealing with my frustration and what my triggers were, why I felt the way I did...I could attempt to help others. I had to learn to take time outs and stomp away to calm myself for a few minutes.

2. I started a notebook. It's easy reading about how it should be, applying it when you're trying to change? HA! Sometimes great, sometimes not, but the not so great times had their own advantages. I'd write down exactly what happened and my response while I was still dealing with it emotionally/mentally. Later or the next day I could come back and pencil in how it should have gone. It let me know I had the tools, sitting there and ready to use, and it gave me information to draw on for the next time. (and there was always a next time!)

3. I paid more attention to other kids around the same age. Things can get so out of perspective if you just have one 'subject' to study. Seeing that yep, it is a ___ year old thing is very helpful because you know it will pass.

Once all that was going on, then I could throw myself more into GD.
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#7 of 12 Old 07-20-2009, 04:10 PM - Thread Starter
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i just wanted to say thanks and big hugs for answering me!!! i haven't checked out the links, but i have them bookmarked...
i DID pull out some puzzles and a lesser-watched dvd for them to watch and for the last couple of days so far it's worked out okay! they still squabble a bit over who gets which puzzle or who's taking up too many pieces, etc., but it has helped us get over that initial hump where i felt like all i ever did was yell!
i know there are plenty of things i need to change about myself... i guess it feels so overwhelming when you try to tackle it all at once! one at a time, one day at a time, right??
prayerfully, as i learn to not respond in anger (especially for things when i'm just being a control freak) the boys will figure out that i really want their best for them!
it is just so wonderful to have a safe place to come and get encouragement from other mamas on the same path (fortunately, many of whom are further along than i am!).

mama to Bear, 3, Bunkin, 19mo, and Lil'Bit, 2wks
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#8 of 12 Old 07-20-2009, 04:22 PM
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#9 of 12 Old 07-20-2009, 05:16 PM
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Its great that you want to change your approach! And also important that you realize that there will be a transition period and it won't be easy for a bit. It will get there though and it is so worth it! But keep repeating to yourself that this is a long-term decision and commitment -- don't get too focused on the short-term because that could get really discouraging.

A key component, for me, to gentle discipline is the idea of prevention rather than reaction. You give a really good example to demonstrate this with. You know that nursing time is difficult, so spend some time thinking of ways to prevent the difficulty rather than having to react to it. When DD was born, DS formed a habit of peeing in the corner every time I sat down to nurse, so I get the "OMG, now what?"? response! So I set up a routine that would be a good distraction for him. And I also gave up on the ideal of "no media". For the first couple of months, I decided that videos/TV were better than pee, so the only time he got to watch a video was when I was nursing. I made sure that I could start a video before I sat down to nurse, and I learned to nurse in the family room (less comfortable for me, better for him). I taught DS how to get his own snack (always hungry the minute I settled DD). Or I would settle down to nurse outside so that he if he decided to pee I didn't care! So, rather than "discipine" for the peeing issue, I prevented it entirely (well, OK, not entirely, but it was less!). That sort of thinking, for me, was key because if I could prevent issues, then I wouldn't get angry and slip into something that I didn't want to do.
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#10 of 12 Old 07-20-2009, 05:36 PM
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Yay for you for wanting to change! And great that your DH is on board; a lot of women struggle because they want to change, but their husbands just don't see it.

A couple of suggestions to add to the list --

1. Redirection is huge. Rather than trying to get your child to STOP doing something, redirect them to do something else. Two types of re-direction:

1st type - honors the impulse that the child is already showing. For example, when DS is banging his drumstick on the coffee table (noise! dents!), I show him that he can bang it on the floor (or other nearby appropriate drumming surface). This honors what he is already doing, but showing him how to do it in a way that is approved of in our home.

2nd type - distracts the child from what they are doing and (attempts to) completely change their behavior. For example, DS is about to tantrum about having to leave his ball in the car as we head into the store. I quickly and excitedly point out the birds that are flying in the sky, as DS likes birds.
what he is doing.

2. Try to tell your children what TO do, rather than what NOT to do.

DS, 10/07. Allergies: peanut, egg, wheat. We've added dairy back in. And taken it back out again. It causes sandpaper skin with itchy patches and thrashing during sleep. Due w/ #2 late April, 2012.

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#11 of 12 Old 07-20-2009, 08:19 PM
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you've gotten good advice so far.

just wanted to add a couple of my favorite/practical books:
'say good-bye to whining, complaining, and bad attitudes in you and your kids' by scott turansky and joanne ******. they also have a book called 'good and angry' - that might help you with some of your anger issues.

this is their website -

however, the books are pretty cheap if you buy them used on amazon...

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#12 of 12 Old 07-22-2009, 12:26 AM
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