I don't want to spank! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 05-20-2014, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello, I am new here, a mom to a 2 year old and just about 4 month old.  My hubby works away for a month at a time and we have a farm that I am solely responsible for when he is away.  Luckily, I get to be a stay at home mom, but as you all know, that in itself is a full time job!  We have decided to downsize the farm, as it is just too hard to do with the 2 kids now.

 

My struggle is with my temper....it is short, and I am feeling so guilty for it!  My kids are really good.  But, when my 2yr old is acting up, or not listening, I sometimes lose my cool with her, and I have smacked her butt.  I don't want to do that!  I am in the process of teaching her we don't hit people, her little bro for example, so if I hit her, what message does that send??!! 

 

I guess, what I am asking, is how do you deal with anger...your own!  I know I can't be alone in this.  I do time outs, short ones as she is little, and she is good about that.  But, sometimes, mostly when she is tires, she ignores me when we are out doing chores, and I have to keep tabs on her, she can't be wandering all over!  She will laugh, and try to make a game of it, but we have to get in to feed/change the baby.  I feel bad that I rush her, I love that she wants to play with mama, but with a 4 month old screaming because we've been out for an hour feeding and watering...I don't like telling her I have to deal with him, now, its like I am telling her that she is not important.  So, I get short with her. 

 

But, also, when she is getting tired, she can get rough with her brother.  I don't leave them together unsupervised, of course, but if I am changing them, and she comes to the change table to help, she sometimes squeezes his hand, or foot, and I can tell she is doing it hard, he just laughs at her though!  Today, I was getting a wash cloth to clean him, and she started patting his tummy, hard!  I lost it and spanked her bum and put her in the corner, all the while saying we don't hit...what sense did I make?!?! 

 

I have to work on my counting to 10, or something.  How do you guys with more than one little one deal with this?! 

 

Thanks in advance from a guilty, frustrated mom.


Lucky to be a stay at home mom to 2 babies; Passionate organic farmer, gardener, beekeeper.  Happily teaching our organic kids where food really comes from.  eat.gif
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#2 of 11 Old 05-21-2014, 05:16 AM
 
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To be more effective, rather than focusing on what you don't want, focus on what you want from your 2 year old.

 

You want kind and helpful behavior in regards to the little one. Here's how to cause kind and helpful behavior:

 

http://www.netmums.com/parenting-support/parenting-advice/netmums-parenting-course-about-the-courses/getting-the-best-part-2

 

Give your 2 year old lots of positive feedback for being kind and helpful.  Say specifically what she did that was kind and helpful rather than using generic praise like "good job".  Get close, touch, be enthusiastic when you give positive feedback.  Give positive feedback immediately when you catch her doing good or when she complies with a request.  Notice and give positive feedback for the smallest acts that are kind or helpful, don't take any wanted behavior for granted.  Make sure the feedback is purely positive, don't caboose any criticism on the end, no "but...".

 

PS: Using all the methods in the whole Netmums parenting course will make a big difference:

 

http://www.netmums.com/parenting-support/parenting-advice/netmums-parenting-course-about-the-courses

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#3 of 11 Old 06-06-2014, 07:19 AM
 
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FM, I think that if you are to the point where you are spanking, there are some other discipline approaches I would consider before spanking, yk?

I consider discipline to be a sort of spectrum of ideals. Ideally, we just model good behavior and never need to correct or anything, right? Ha! After that is talking and explaining. Then a slew of things like "playful parenting" or "praise/rewards". You have things like charts (which would not work for a 2 year old)... and on and on. There is punishment there too. Time outs, removing privileges, and etc.

Other things that I would consider are measures to get through daily life. that is also a spectrum. Ideally we just live this ideally emotionally healthy lifestyle. But sometimes our lives don't accommodate that. I would consider TV, for instance, if I had a time of day that really wrecked my patience to the point of spanking. Or if that is out of the question, maybe a snack drawer where the 2 year old could help herself to a healthy treat while you care for the baby.

Other thoughts... what about a water/sand sensory table that your 2 year old can play with outside alone?

I guess I don't really have any tips for controlling temper but more tips for how to avoid triggers. That is how I approach it.

One more thought...

Your 2 year old is probably approaching a "I can help" phase. This is the greatest phase ever if parents can approach it with a bit of extra energy to enable the child. I would consider making diaper changes a time where she feels super useful. Maybe even empty a bottle of baby powder and allow her to be the shaker. You can keep it like way on the other side of the room so it's a lot of "work" for her to do. She can put the dirty diaper in the bin, stuff like that.

I think the reward for her comes from helping and being part of the family. More on that below...

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Originally Posted by tadamsmar View Post

Give your 2 year old lots of positive feedback for being kind and helpful.  Say specifically what she did that was kind and helpful rather than using generic praise like "good job".  Get close, touch, be enthusiastic when you give positive feedback.  Give positive feedback immediately when you catch her doing good or when she complies with a request.  Notice and give positive feedback for the smallest acts that are kind or helpful, don't take any wanted behavior for granted.
I wanted to respond to this because it relates to some of the advice I gave above.

I think that it's great that praise in this manner works well for your family, Tadamsmar. And I think there is a lot to the link you provided in terms of being conscious as a parent of the level of praise vs. criticism we give to our children.

That said, I think the thought process against praise as a discipline strategy goes beyond the idea that praise should be specific.

I think that the idea that kids need our feedback when they are cooperative can undermine our confidence in their natural instinct to behave in pro-social ways.

I have a 3 year old and she does not need praise to behave. In fact, I have occasionally just LOVED something she has done and have decided that rather than praise she would benefit more from my sincere internal acknowledgement that "of course she did that - she is a lovely child who wants to participate in this world."

In the example above of setting a 2 year up to be helpful during diaper changes, I think praise added would really take way from the intrinsic motivation of being helpful and part of the unit.

This does not remove any opportunity for praise - I do praise my children when I am genuinely inclined to do so, but I feel like they do not need my constant feedback.

So, another side to that idea...

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#4 of 11 Old 06-06-2014, 07:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by farmingmama80 View Post

 
But, also, when she is getting tired, she can get rough with her brother.  I don't leave them together unsupervised, of course, but if I am changing them, and she comes to the change table to help, she sometimes squeezes his hand, or foot, and I can tell she is doing it hard, he just laughs at her though!  Today, I was getting a wash cloth to clean him, and she started patting his tummy, hard!  I lost it and spanked her bum and put her in the corner, all the while saying we don't hit...what sense did I make?!?! 
I can totally understand the protective feeling you had towards you infant. I would say that it's totally fine to physically remove your toddler from the diaper changing (or whatever) if she is rough with your infant. You are modeling to her that we protect the youngest, most vulnerable among us.

Rather than hit or lecture, though, I think it would be better to just be very direct.

"I saw you press on his belly. I am not going to let you do that." And move her away without more conversation.

Once you have established consistent gentleness with the baby, I think you may experiment with trusting your 2 year old to be sort-of unsupervised with the toddler. Sometimes I think this level of confidence in our kids really just magically works to encourage the behavior we want to see.

You could even encourage that a little by asking the toddler to watch the baby for a second (once you have broken the habit of being rough).

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#5 of 11 Old 06-06-2014, 08:43 AM
 
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Hi Farming Mama! You've gotten some great sggestions for keeping your toddler busy and for alternatives to spanking. I wanted to respond to your comments about your anger and subsequent guilty feelings...because I am in the thick of dealing with that myself!

It sounds like you have a whole lot on your plate right now. Running a farm alone with a 2 yo and an infant can't be easy! Is there any way you could get some outside help, either with the farm chores or with the kids? I find that as my own workload increases, my patience and tolerance for my toddler decreases!

When my temper flares, I've been trying a few different things. Now that it's warm outside, I will often tell my toddler that Mommy needs a time out. I'll take the baby outside and we'll take a quick walk down to the garden, or even just sit on the porch in the sun. Then, I self-talk. Instead of saying to myself what I'm NOT going to do, I tell myself how I want to be: "I'm going to be patient. I'm going to be kind, gentle, etc" I've realized that aside from my toddler hurting the baby, my main trigger is a feeling of having no control. So I remind myself that while I can't ever control another person, what I can control are my own actions. I choose how to react. It's sometimes hard to make the gentle choice, though!

As for the guilty feelings, go easy on yourself. You're only human. Apologize to your toddler when you lose it, and try to do better next time. It's a lifelong process!

Hope that helps.
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#6 of 11 Old 06-06-2014, 08:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post
This does not remove any opportunity for praise - I do praise my children when I am genuinely inclined to do so, but I feel like they do not need my constant feedback.

So, another side to that idea...
Research shows that constant praise (or constant reinforcement regardless of what form it takes) interferes with lasting behavior change. It creates a "brittle" habit, the wanted behavior quickly goes away if the reinforcement stops. So, the sort of pattern of praise you are using is required to make a habit robust. Also, it's important to be genuine. Older kids, in particular, see though fakey praise. (Constant reinforcement can nbe useful when you are first instilling a habit, but it's counter-productive later.)

Anyway parental attention is the important reinforcer. Praise is not needed. There would be fewer behavior problems if parents understood that even negative attention is a reinforcer of unwanted behavior.

Last edited by tadamsmar; 06-06-2014 at 09:06 AM.
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#7 of 11 Old 06-06-2014, 09:37 AM
 
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Research shows that constant praise (or constant reinforcement regardless of what form it takes) interferes with lasting behavior change. It creates a "brittle" habit, the wanted behavior quickly goes away if the reinforcement stops.
Yes, I agree. Can you explain a little how this comment above relates to your first post that seemed to suggest that consistent positive feedback is an advisable long-term solution for addressing behavior challenges?

Is it the idea that positive feedback (praise?) will help move a child through a challenging stage until they naturally grow out of a habit?

I agree too, Bushmom, that we do need to take it easy on ourselves. I think a "parent time out" is a great solution for when tempers flair. This is, again, some good modeling. What do you do when you are having trouble keeping perspective -- you separate your own self from the situation. Breathe. All of that. When we learn to do that for ourselves, we teach our children those same habits.

A word on "crying"... I do think that a child needing to have a cry because mom/dad/caregiver is taking care of something that takes president at that moment is a fine thing. It's HARD to hear our babies cry but I think the alternative of pushing ourselves to the breaking point to avoid it is not the choice to make.

Rather, I would take a the posture of, "I'm sorry you are sad/angry right now but I know you will be ok for a bit while I take care of your sibling."

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#8 of 11 Old 06-06-2014, 09:45 AM
 
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Anyway parental attention is the important reinforcer. Praise is not needed. There would be fewer behavior problems if parents understood that even negative attention is a reinforcer of unwanted behavior.
To the point of negative attention - I do agree. Although I generally don't agree that "Praise is Magic" (from the link you gave), I do think that if a parent is inclined to give frequent feedback, I suppose they should also give positive.

What I am saying (and maybe this wasn't clear in my first post) is that I think most kids know what is pro-social behavior and what isn't. I don't think they need our feedback (at all) as much as many parent and behaviorists seem to think.

In general I think parents tend to talk too much.

If the advice is "don't be so critical", I totally agree. If the advice is "balance criticism with praise", I vote - just do the first thing and leave the praise for those genuine moments - absent of trying to influence behavior (although perhaps aware that this is sometimes a bonus).

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#9 of 11 Old 06-21-2014, 09:18 AM
 
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Yes, I agree. Can you explain a little how this comment above relates to your first post that seemed to suggest that consistent positive feedback is an advisable long-term solution for addressing behavior challenges?
I meant as a first step. The first step is catch them being good and give positive attention, at that stage provide lots of consistent reinforced practice. Later, fade the reinforcement, but I did not include that, probably should have included it.

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Is it the idea that positive feedback (praise?) will help move a child through a challenging stage until they naturally grow out of a habit?
It need not be praise.

The idea is the change the a habit that is unwanted using methods that are gentile and positive.

Last edited by tadamsmar; 06-21-2014 at 09:32 AM.
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#10 of 11 Old 06-21-2014, 09:46 AM
 
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The idea is the change the a habit that is unwanted using methods that are gentile and positive.
I do agree that breaking a bad habit (in the OP's case ungentle behavior to the infant sibling) is really important. I guess it depends on how one defines reinforcement. Certainly the suggestion to give the toddler jobs is a reinforcer - ie. more attention, involvement, and etc. That is also the sort that had the added benefit of not having to be phased out but, rather, it becomes a foundation for working together.

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#11 of 11 Old 07-01-2014, 03:45 PM
 
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Parenting with love and logic has worked for us. It stresses letting you as the parent calm down so you don't "punish", as opposed to correcting the child. It also allows the kiddo to choose their own consequences. If they don't eat what's on their plate, then they can either go hungry or fix a sandwich (example from our house).
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