Need help finding my way around discipline. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 08-30-2010, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm lost. My son is 11 months old, and I'm finding that we are already confronted with decisions about discipline. I always thought that I wouldn't ahve to worry about until much later. Some thoughts:

  • I thought 11 months was too young for 'discipline'-- nearly all the books I've read seem to only have suggestions for older children.
  • I want to stay away from any kind of spanking/shaming/abandoment. However, I find stuff coming out of my and my husbands mouth that doesn't really jive with this.
  • I don't want to shout at my son like he's a dog. As in shouting 'No!' from the couch when he starts crawling off into the kitchen. The only issue with not doing this is that it seems to work, where lengthy explinations do not.
  • The issue with how my parents used to do things is that after 3-4 it didn't work. We were the most spoiled, ungreatful children from about 3-16. There was a lot of love in the house, but always chaotic, we never helped out with chores. And we never behaved. My mom was always at the end of her rope. And her rope was much longer than mine is.
Does anyone have an suggestions of what *to* do for a child this young. I think we need a set of guidelines, because having a vaccum just leaves us both at a loss. We havent shouted or yelled yet, but DS has just recently become mobile. I'm sure he'll get into a lot more trouble as he get's a bit older.

Does anyone have any ideas for books or websites to read?

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#2 of 13 Old 08-30-2010, 05:51 PM
 
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For the young ones, it's all about redirection! Of course this requires close monitoring and catching him *before* he attempts the undesired activity.

Also try to set your home up in a way that most of the things in his reach are *yes* items/activites!

In love with Dh since 1998. We created Ds (7.1.03), Dd (10.16.06) and Dd (3.16.09).
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#3 of 13 Old 08-30-2010, 08:32 PM
 
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What stuff is he doing? Are you saying he isn't allowed in the kitchen when you're not in there, or ever? IMO, an off limits room is going to be very difficult for a long long time, especially the kitchen. Too tempting. Can you put a gate up? DD used to try to go behind the stereo speakers and it took a couple months of me taking her hand, correcting her, and walking her somewhere else before she stopped doing it. Even now she will start, but it just takes a look and she stops and goes "no no no".

The advice I got here was correct and redirect, and try to limit the amount of off limits things so they can explore. At 17mo it's still working.

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#4 of 13 Old 08-30-2010, 09:07 PM
 
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...[*]I don't want to shout at my son like he's a dog. As in shouting 'No!' from the couch when he starts crawling off into the kitchen. The only issue with not doing this is that it seems to work, where lengthy explinations do not....
This won't work for long... he will get used to it and just ignore it. I didn't want to say "no" so much either. I use "eh-eh" in replacement of it, and save "no" for dangerous things.... like when they are about to grab a hot pan.

So in this situation, I would say "eh eh" and get off the couch and physically redirect ... or get off the couch and verbally redirect as in "wow, look at this fabulous sparkly thing over here in this corner of the living room".

My hubby wants to shout from the couch, and it just doesn't work. It is frustrating to him, me, and the kids!
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#5 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 03:45 AM
 
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I'm reposting here something I did up a while ago. Sorry it's a novel, and I keep adding to it. It's a good place to start. Keep reading this board too and you'll read about a lot of situations that you'll encounter sooner or later.

Your 11 month old is becoming a 'toddler'. Depending on your child's temperament, the toddler years start earlier or later. The one thing I can say about parenting a toddler: It requires you to move. When I find myself sitting on the couch yelling (we've all been there), I have to look first at my own behavior. Toddlers/infants are physical learners and thus need gentle touch and demonstration.

Disciplining a toddler will keep you moving. Much more so than tending a baby. Your days of sitting on the couch reading while baby plays are at an end for a bit. (They come back, but not for a few years.)

The other thing that helped me a ton was reading. I read parenting books as a hobby. (Really, I just happen to be quite interested in child development.) Some are really good. Some are really not good. Most are somewhere in between and often have a tip or two that I can use, or at least mull over.

If you and your dh can find an AP or Gentle Discipline oriented parenting class, I'd highly recommend it. Taking a parenting class together really helped my dh and me talk about some things. We didn't get that much out of the actual class, but it raised issues that we could discuss.

Below I've given a list of my general tips for disciplining a toddler that I've collected over the years. None of these are original with me – all are things that I’ve gotten from books. My favorite books are:
Kids, Parents & Power Struggles
Playful Parenting
Parenting with Purpose by Lynda Madison (I like this one because it speaks directly to under 4s)
Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

First, remember that discipline = teaching. For me, good discipline means teaching the child what to do and what to expect. Also remember that learning new things takes time. Your 20 month old can’t tie their own shoes, so don’t expect them to learn to not throw their spaghetti on the floor in one day.

Before you discipline remember that children need to be well fed and well rested before they can learn anything. Feed your toddler every 2 hours. Make sure they get enough sleep. If you're both tired and cranky (dinner time), you're going to have more battles. Try to plan a quiet activity or a way to cool off then. If your child has been sick, expect their behavior to be "off" for the 10 days to 2 weeks it takes them to fully recover (even if they "look" OK).

Finally, the middle of a meltdown is not a time for teaching. It's a time for getting through.
All in all, it's my reaction that makes the difference to discipline. If I know what I'm doing and can remain calm, I can handle a lot of situations. When I lose it (which I do all to frequently), things don't go as well. On the whole, however, we muddle through pretty well. Note too that these are my ideals. I often fall far short of my ideals. My goal is not to be perfect, but to keep moving in the right direction.

Here's the short version of the list:
1. Create a positive environment
2. Fill your child's need for attention in positive ways
3. Tell them what to do, not what not to do.
4. Remember where they are in development.
5. Decide if the behavior needs correction/stopping
6. Find a safe way for them to do what they're trying to do ('honor the impulse')
7. Gently help them comply/physically show them what you mean
8. Explain/warn of the consequences (keep them logically related)
9. Calmly enforce the consequences


1. Create a positive environment.
For me, this means child-proofing so my child is free to explore. The easiest way for a child to have a good experience is to simply be able to explore without limits because there’s nothing dangerous around. So, toys should be age-appropriate (that means no toys that they can take apart), books should be board books only, knick knacks should be put away, stereo equipment etc. should be behind doors/guards.

For others, this means helping their child explore the dangerous things until the urge is out. (That's easy to do with one, harder to do with more than one because your attention is divided.) Sometimes if you hold a fragile object or help them hold fragile object, that's all it takes. I also taught my kids a 'one finger' touch. It's easier to keep it controlled and gentle. We spent a lot of time exploring the neighbors' Christmas decorations with one finger.

IMO, every child should have at least one room where they are free to explore. Our kitchen was one of these rooms. All drawers except 2 had strong latches on them. The 2 free drawers had pans in them. One cupboard was all theirs, full of tupperware and plastic baby bowls and cups (and a few pans). The other room was the living room.

2. Make sure you fill up your child's cup of attention daily.

If they get positive attention from you, they're less likely to act out just to get attention. I'm a firm believer in 30 minutes or so of focused attention where the child takes the lead in the play. When things are getting rough, this helps restore our connection. (This is why I love Playful Parenting -- it's got a great explanation of why this is so important, plus good tips for restoring the connection at difficult times.)

3. Tell your child what they can do.
Don't phrase things in the negative . Phrasing things positively teaches your child what is acceptable and gets their mind off what they shouldn't be doing. So, instead of saying "don’t jump on the couch" say "come jump on the pillows". Instead of 'don't stand up on the chair' say 'sit down'

4. Remember where you child is in development.

A young toddler has a short attention span. A toddler has little impulse control. Toddlers have a hard time stopping a behavior once they've started it. A toddler isn't great a using words when they're upset. Thus, actions speak louder than words for many reasons with a toddler. Toddlers are physical and tactile learners. They need to explore things physically and with their hands. Toddlers learn by repetition. They aren't doing this 85 times in a row just to frustrate you. My 6 year old does not see the world in black and white merely because she wants to rule the universe (though she'd really like to be Queen of Everything).

5. Decide whether a behavior is really worth stopping.
Do I really care if my child takes ALL the puzzles off the shelf? Is it OK for my kids to slide down the stairs on an old air mattress? (They're pretending racing the luge.) Why shouldn't my kids ride their scooters in the house? (OK, they can't do it while I'm cooking dinner, but other times, why not?)

6. Find a way to honor the impulse if what they're doing isn't safe/acceptable to you.
Find something that the child CAN do that’s not the forbidden activity. So, if she wants to jump on the couch, put pillows on the floor and have her jump on those. If he wants to play in the toilet, set him up at the sink with a step stool, some bubbles and a few utensils.

If there just isn't a way to do this, then redirect to something they can do. For toddlers, sometimes just going to another room helps. For older kids, it's more effort.

7. Gently help them comply.
Under 3s are physical learners and sometimes need to be physically shown what you expect. Handing them the toy you want them to pick up. Gently helping them put their feet on the floor might be more effective than telling them 5 times "feet on the floor".

8. Warn of consequences
Tell your child what to expect. "Please drive that truck on the floor. Throwing is not safe. If you don't drive it, I’ll have to put it up to keep us safe."

When you're thinking of a consequences, keep them related to what the child is doing. Timeout for throwing spaghetti on the floor doesn't make much sense to me. Better would be to have the child help pick up the spaghetti. (And yes, sometimes that meant me putting a single strand of spaghetti in my child's hand, and walking with them over to the trash. When they were young toddlers, that single strand is 'helping'. At 5, my dd can now clean up after her own spills.)

8. Enforce consequences
This must be done consistently and calmly. Enforcing it after telling them three times "if you throw that (again), I’ll take it." only teaches them that you don’t mean what you say, or that they've got 5-10 chances before they have to listen.

You also need to remain calm. This is the absolute hardest part for me. If I'm reacting from a place of anger, I'm not disciplining (i.e. teaching). I'm more likely to punish than teach.
What are appropriate consequences for a child this age? First, try to 'help them' gently comply. If that doesn't work, then I apply:

1. Removing the toy if they’re not using it correctly.
2. Removing the child from the situation.

For kids under 3, time-outs don’t do any good. (for older kids, it's also highly debatable.) Young children don't understand why they're in 'timeout', and they don't link the punishment (which happens after they've done something) to whatever it was they did.

Just removing them to another location is generally enough. So, sit them on the couch or a chair and say calmly, "keep your hands out of the toilet. it’s dirty." Then walk away (and close the bathroom door!). They’ll get up right away, but that’s OK. If you're really on your game you can add "Let's go play in the sink."

3. Remove yourself from the child. For example, if they're hurting you. So, if they hit, gently take their hand and say calmly "don’t hit. that hurts. You must be gentle (and demonstrate gentle)." If they do it again, then get up and say "Don’t hit, that hurts. I won’t play with you if you hit." and walk away.

Dd liked to bite when nursing. The first time she did it, I said "no" and stopped nursing for a bit. The second time in the same session, we were done. It took her about 3 days to learn not to. (And then she went through a period where she'd be tempted to bite, but would shake her head 'no' while nursing. While funny, that was actually much more painful.)

4. If you’re losing it, then it’s probably best to separate yourself from your child until you’re calm enough to deal with them reasonably. I had to do this on some long days with our both our kids. I'd plop them in their cribs/rooms, and after 3-5 minutes, I could deal with him again.

After our kids turned 3, we do timeouts in our house on occasion. Almost always it's when things have gotten out of hand we need to separate to keep ourselves sane/safe. If my kids hit, they were levitated to their rooms until they calmed down. When I'm tempted to spank my kids, I immediately leave the room. (I took a walk down to the corner and back during chore time last week because dd had really set me off. My kids now stomp to their rooms and slam their doors when they're mad. Huge progress.)

Sometimes we send a child to their room for interminable whining. If you've been offered a hug, a cuddle and an alternative to whatever is making you whine, and you're STILL whining or screaming, it's time for you to go be by yourself.

My kids often feed off of my negative energy, so a separation (either me putting myself in my room or putting them in their room) was effective in breaking the cycle.

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#6 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 03:42 PM
 
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Thank you for writing/condensing this information into such a helpful post. I am SO printing this out for myself and DH.
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#7 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh my! so many responses-- I had sort of lost this thread. One of my issues is that DH and I really co-parent-- infact some days he spends more waking hours with ds than I do. This means that even if I feel something in my gut, I have to figure out someway for DS to go along.

Quote:
Originally Posted by starlein26 View Post
For the young ones, it's all about redirection! Of course this requires close monitoring and catching him *before* he attempts the undesired activity.

Also try to set your home up in a way that most of the things in his reach are *yes* items/activites!
So... when you say catch him before, do you mean just just physically picking him up and moving whatever it is? Or him? Do you say anything at all to him or just distract him with a book or what have you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dachshund mom View Post
What stuff is he doing? Are you saying he isn't allowed in the kitchen when you're not in there, or ever? IMO, an off limits room is going to be very difficult for a long long time, especially the kitchen. Too tempting. Can you put a gate up? DD used to try to go behind the stereo speakers and it took a couple months of me taking her hand, correcting her, and walking her somewhere else before she stopped doing it. Even now she will start, but it just takes a look and she stops and goes "no no no".

The advice I got here was correct and redirect, and try to limit the amount of off limits things so they can explore. At 17mo it's still working.
TBH, the most trouble he get's into is eating stuff off of the floor . I'm embarrassed to admit it, and i promise I try, but he seems to find specks that I can't even see. Our sitter does the floors every other day, and both DH and i do spot jobs in between, but DS still can pick up stuff off the floor. We say no, no, yucky! and we do get up and take it out of his hands when that doesnt work. I just want to know if we are doing the right thing.

As for the kitchen: Mostly it's if it's one of us is doing dishes, but the other is playing with DS. We loved our house layout until this week. It's very open, but not very baby proofable. And there a lot of counters, that make it hard to see where he is at all times. We rearranged furniture so that we can at least keep an eye on him going in the kitchen/breakfast area. But now he's started moving around the chairs on the table. I had no clue that he could/would try do that!?! How can you babyproof for things that you can't imagine?

Also, I'm a bit confused-- are you saying that keeping a small contained safe area is best, or letting him explore is better? The reason I ask is because I'm more the former, and DH is advocating for the latter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMommy2 View Post
This won't work for long... he will get used to it and just ignore it. I didn't want to say "no" so much either. I use "eh-eh" in replacement of it, and save "no" for dangerous things.... like when they are about to grab a hot pan.

So in this situation, I would say "eh eh" and get off the couch and physically redirect ... or get off the couch and verbally redirect as in "wow, look at this fabulous sparkly thing over here in this corner of the living room".

My hubby wants to shout from the couch, and it just doesn't work. It is frustrating to him, me, and the kids!
Good to know that this is limited time thing. I'd like to pin they yelling from teh couch on DH, but truth be told we both do it; I just feel more guilty about it. I think I'm going to talk to him about using another phrase-- ie Not for baby, or Danger! instead of just plain no. Also, at least from what I've seen, is when this stops working, than the we'll just get frustrated and pissed with him. which sucks for everyone.

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#8 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by texmati View Post

Also, I'm a bit confused-- are you saying that keeping a small contained safe area is best, or letting him explore is better? The reason I ask is because I'm more the former, and DH is advocating for the latter.
I did a combination. I babyproofed DS' room and did not babyproof the rest of the house. He was able to be in his room by himself relatively safely but I could also hang out in there reading a book while he played without worrying overly much. His room was central to the house so you might have to use a different space.

Correction: I locked up the cleaners and other dangerous items but didn't put away picture frames or other such knick-knacks.
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#9 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
I'm reposting here something I did up a while ago. Sorry it's a novel, and I keep adding to it. It's a good place to start. Keep reading this board too and you'll read about a lot of situations that you'll encounter sooner or later.

Your 11 month old is becoming a 'toddler'. Depending on your child's temperament, the toddler years start earlier or later. The one thing I can say about parenting a toddler: It requires you to move. When I find myself sitting on the couch yelling (we've all been there), I have to look first at my own behavior. Toddlers/infants are physical learners and thus need gentle touch and demonstration.

Disciplining a toddler will keep you moving. Much more so than tending a baby. Your days of sitting on the couch reading while baby plays are at an end for a bit. (They come back, but not for a few years.)

The other thing that helped me a ton was reading. I read parenting books as a hobby. (Really, I just happen to be quite interested in child development.) Some are really good. Some are really not good. Most are somewhere in between and often have a tip or two that I can use, or at least mull over.

If you and your dh can find an AP or Gentle Discipline oriented parenting class, I'd highly recommend it. Taking a parenting class together really helped my dh and me talk about some things. We didn't get that much out of the actual class, but it raised issues that we could discuss.

Below I've given a list of my general tips for disciplining a toddler that I've collected over the years. None of these are original with me – all are things that I’ve gotten from books. My favorite books are:
Kids, Parents & Power Struggles
Playful Parenting
Parenting with Purpose by Lynda Madison (I like this one because it speaks directly to under 4s)
Becoming the Parent You Want to Be
Thanks for this-- esp the book recommendations. I'm smart, but feel at a total loss with some of this parenting stuff. My DH is more a 'fly by the seat of your pants; learn by osmosis' kind of guy, but I need a bit more help with this common sense stuff.

New plan:

  • Clear house of truly dangerous items. I am sick of having to worry about ds going up the stairs, or finding dh's razors or drinking bleach out of the cabinet. This is being done today no matter what.
  • Talk with Dh about what 'misbehavior' is. Agree to handle it by redirecting, or some other explanation phrase.
  • Figure out how to keep floors cleaner.
I'm still wondering whether it's better to get something like this and quarantine DS to a safe area, or let him explore throughout the downstairs. DH hates the idea of baby cages, so is not to keen on the idea of blocking him off. I feel that we are going to have a toddler and a newborn soon, and it's going to be impossible to follow DS around everywhere.

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#10 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 04:34 PM
 
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Great thread! Just wanted to say about the floors - with DD1, we were pretty on top of her and mostly kept her from eating stuff off the floor. No matter how we tried, she always found something, but we mostly got to it in time. With DD2, it's more like, 'Sweetie, what is in your mouth? Where did you get it? Oh, well I guess it's ok this time...'

So, don't make yourself crazy over it. We've tried both ways and they both seem ok, much as I keep meaning to teach DD2 not to eat stuff from the floor!

NB - we don't wear shoes in the house and I hope that most of the stuff on the kitchen floor is 'just' food.
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#11 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yeah we don't do shoes either, but I was horrified to ds eating food off the floor this morning that he had thrown there last night. Why does it taste so much better off of the floor?

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#12 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 08:03 PM
 
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My kids would never have stayed contained in one of those baby areas. But then I didn't have a 17 month old and a newborn like you're going to have, so you do what your sanity needs.

We gated off the stairs, put catches on all cupboards and drawers that contained breakable, toxic or sharp things, and hid the chords as best we could.

As for left over food, eh, no big deal. When ds was about 4, he was playing with dd's swing, he pushed it really hard and discovered bits of teething biscuits fell out. Dd hadn't been given a teething biscuit for at least a month. By the time I noticed what he was doing, he'd downed several. He lived to tell the tale, with no visible damange.

Sweep the floor after every meal, and don't worry about it.

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#13 of 13 Old 09-01-2010, 12:34 AM
 
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Honestly... I'm still trying to get this "gentle dicipline" down. I did spank. I feel bad for it, but I did. Not hard, but a spat on the hand hurt her feelings as well as mine, so I won't do it anymore. I do put her in the corner if it's something I've told her over and over not to do, but she's 3. So I don't think that's terrible. At his age, I agree with the others, and I would redirect him. Toddlers... well... they just require a LOT of attention. And a LOT of patience. I'd put up everything that could be dangerous out of his reach. Some people leave stuff out, and tell them no... (so they know to leave things alone) but I don't see how that works. I put everything I didn't want my daughter playing with out of reach. As much as possible. I did put a gate up at the kitchen, because it just wasn't safe for her to play in. Even now, I have child locks on EVERYTHING in there. Because, even at 3, she WILL drag it out.

I like the idea of saying "nuh-uh" or something instead of saying "no" to everything. Just using "no" for dangerous situations. So they KNOW it's something that they don't need to do.

Just realize... life isn't perfect, and you will get frustrated. It's ok. We all have. If you do, just take a step back, do what you need to calm down, and get back in there. And find joy in the little things. I think that toddlerhood is so much FUN, but it CAN be nerve-wracking at times.

Nikki, Wife to Rob (5 yrs)and mother to Julia (3 yrs)
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