I don't post very often, but I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone contributing to the Gentle Discipline forum. Even though I don't post often, I do stop by to read suggestions now and then that have been given to other mamas.
My DD1 is 32 months old, and I used to spank her. When I first came to Mothering.com I ignored this forum, because I thought, "That's ridiculous; spanking is the way to discipline," though deep down I was uncomfortable with it from the start. I remember the first spanking my daughter got; it was not from me. My DH's aunt was putting her in the car seat and she started to cry (I think she was about 13 or 14 months old), so DH's aunt gave her a spanking. It really upset me.
I am so glad for all of you who have opened my eyes to a better way of discipline. It has been a long and difficult journey, but I have really turned my parenting around. DD1 used to tantrum every time I told her "no" for anything. She would kick and scream. She'd hit her head against the wall. I believe it started and was enforced because I spanked her for things she did "wrong". Over time I finally realized that I was causing her behavior with the discipline I was using, so I stopped spanking and started loving.
For several months, her poor behavior continued, and even escalated. Screaming, kicking, hitting, etc; any time I told her no for anything. I had to spend two weeks with my MIL while we had a mold problem being taken care of at our house, and the whole time we were there, she was telling me, "She doesn't respect you. You need to discipline her. You need to spank her. She doesn't respect you because you never discipline her." I wanted to punch her in the face, to be honest, because I DO discipline DD1, but I discipline her gently!! When DD1 started screaming, I picked her up and told her, "DD, it's time to calm down. Everything is okay." Sometimes she would continue to scream, and wiggle about until I'd almost drop her, but I would just reinforce loving her and explain as calmly as I could that "that's not the way to behave." MIL mocked me and yelled at me and tried removing DD1 from me many times. It was a horrible week and made DD1's behavior worse. MIL blamed her worse behavior on me, but I know it is because MIL put so much of her energy to keeping us apart. She was constantly trying to stop me from breastfeeding her, and telling her "that's for babies!" It was a horrible situation, but thankfully the mold situation was taken care of and I got to come home.
She almost never does/did this in front of anyone else, but if DD got upset, she would start hitting herself and saying "Spank! Spank!" and it greatly disturbed me. I'd give her a hug and tell her, "no, no spankings." She still does this now and then, but not nearly as often.
We went to visit my mom, and DD1 would start screaming because she didn't want to share with DD2 (8 months) and my mom was always trying to force sharing, even though DD2 really didn't care what she was playing with, as long as she had something. I'd interfere and give DD2 something different to play with, because I didn't see it important that DD1 share her toy right then, as long as DD2 was happy with something else. My mom of course gave me the same criticisms that MIL did. "She doesn't respect you because you don't discipline her. You are turning her into a monster. You need to spank her." When she said, "You need to spank her," I replied with, "Actually, that's what got us into this mess," to which she told me, "I doubt it." I did my best to ignore her.
It has been very difficult, and I have certainly made a few mistakes since adopting gentle discipline into my parenting (I have let frustration get the best of me a couple times and forgotten not to spank--what a horrible habit!) but overall I have been loving and gentle in my discipline since the start of the summer.
And I want to thank you all, because my DD1 is becoming the sweetest child I know.
Her tantrums have gone from several a day, to a few a week. When I told her not to spill her oatmeal on the floor this morning (something that would have definitely provoked a tantrum just a couple months ago), she hopped down, hugged my leg and said "Sawwy mommy. I lah woo!" When I ask her to put her toys away, she doesn't tantrum about it, she doesn't scream and try to hit me...she just puts them away. She plays nicer with her sister. If I tell her it's time to go home from the playground, she doesn't tantrum, she just follows me.
I am so glad I didn't listen to the advice I got from my mom, or my MIL.