Gentle discipline not working - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 26 Old 04-25-2003, 09:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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my 2 year old son is incredibly hyperactive and very disobedient. I believe in gentle discipline but at the same time i'm not willing to let him be a brat. He will do something he knows is wrong and actually laugh in my face if I tell him to stop. that IMO is a brat! What can I do? I have a 5 month old daughter who nurses a lot and I can't take 15 minutes to have a conversation about why he did something everytime he acts out because he is acting out all day! He will look right at me, give me a look like "up yours lady" and then just go ahead and do it. I remember looking at kids like this in public before I had kids and thinking they must have horrible parents and now I AM the horrible parent. I do want to raise a brat. What can I do???

Shawna, married to Michael, mommy to Elijah 1/18/01, Olivia 11/9/02, and Eliana 1/22/06
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#2 of 26 Old 04-25-2003, 10:24 AM
 
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I am very strict (i.e. I have a fair number of rules in my house). But I do use GD.

First, I think 2 is a little young to be called "very disobediant". You can't exactly expect a 2 year old to do what you want or to stop doing something.
At 2 you tell them, and then you take action. For example, if you say "stop banging the fork on the table" and they don't, you simply walk over to them and take the fork out of their hand. I try to do this gently.

Don't worry so much about him laughing. He's not saying "up yours". He is saying "Hey its really cool that my body is independant of mom and my body will actually do something other than what she says."

I URGE you to read "The Secret of Parenting" by Anthony Wolf. He stongly believes in gentle discipline but believes that it is not necessary to give kids a long explanation for why you want something done. Using his advice and techniques I learned to be a better parent and to bring alot more joy to the realtionship. Also, while not condoning bratty behavior really explains it and how you can feel about it.
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#3 of 26 Old 04-25-2003, 09:53 PM
 
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Gentle discipline doesn't mean that you don't offere consequences and that you explain everything. Basically, children have to have a certain developmental ability which comes between 3 and 5 before any explanation is going to help. Gentle consequences work wonders.

As the previous post mentioned, if he's banging a fork, warn that you'll take the fork at the next bang and then do it.

Basically, think about the various behaviors he does that you don't want and make a plan for each of them. Think of a consequence that is related to the behavior and follow through. Also, teaching him how to do what you want can get you much farther than many things. If he's doing something that you dont' want. Physically show him how to do what you do want.

Sometimes my toddlers will hit the baby or each other. I take their hands and have them gently pet the other person and say "gentle". This will not cause them to stop hitting right away, but over time my kids stop hitting and start petting.

Think how you can teach him to do what you want. Ignore the laughing. Kids at that age are trying to see how what they do affects you. I keep a straight face always with my kids. Saying "no" to them doesn't do much. They just think it's funny. Instead of saying "no" I physically remove them from what htey're doing so they stop. As they get older it gets easier to manage behavior with your words instead of having to get up and physically intervene all the time.
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#4 of 26 Old 04-26-2003, 12:01 AM
 
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Heavenly,
I feel your pain! I am having the same problem with my almost 4yo DD. I will tell her "do not open the door to the garage and go out". She cracks open the door. I say "I told you not to open the door, you cannot go out". She opens the door wider. I say "you are not listening to me, please do not open the door". She opens the door to the garage, sticks her tongue out at me, hits the garage door opener, and bolts outside.

The only advice I'm getting from DH and my dad is to spank her. I tell DH "you have spanked her in the past and it has never stopped her from doing anything, so why bother to spank her now?"

It's really gotten bad lately - her not listening to me. I feel like I'm talking into the wind, and I'm getting really frustrated. Many times when she does this I am in the middle of doing something, so I can't stop and have a chat with her about it. I really need her to listen and obey - for her safety and my sanity, but I'm about at my wits end, so any sage advice you ladies have is greatly appreciated. (I'm not really meaning to hijack your post, I'm having the same problem but with a slightly older child and want to utilize any advice you may get!!) )

I don't want to spank her, but I don't want a brat either. I would really like some methods to show DH and my Dad that gentle discipline does work.

Melanie
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#5 of 26 Old 04-26-2003, 09:00 AM
 
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shanleysmom

I hear ya!!! My 3 year old is the same way. I think the ticket may be looking at them -making eye contact-saying it one time and then removing them (gently). ie: lock the door etc.. We have started taking DS up to his room. We are calm and tell him that he doesn't have to stay there and when he's ready to listen he can come out. Not sure if this is the right thing but we too are out of options! Anyone????????????
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#6 of 26 Old 04-26-2003, 10:17 AM
 
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These children are experimenting with cause and effect. They need to learn what causes what. Telling a child not to do something just helps them learn that not listening to you causes no problem at all. They are specifically doing these things, not to bother anybody, but to figure out how the world works. Try a logical consequence. Say, "if you open the door then you won't be allowed to play in the room with the garage door or something appropriate." I find that generally kids don't need a huge consequence just something to find out what happens when they do such and such.

The hardest thing is to come up with appropriate consequences at the moment. Dont' worry about it. If you can't come up with a consequnece don't. Just remove the child from the situation and think aobut it for later. Children don't need to have an immediate consequence for them to learn. If you can't think of one at the moment, think about it or asks us and you can use it the next time. With practice you'll have gentle and effective consequences for most behaviors.

Aside from the many other reasons for not spanking, another one is what I call the "rebound effect". It might work to stop some behavior at the moment, but it will cause the child to have another worse behavior at a later time because of being harmed and humiliated just for being inquisitive. The only way to use spanking long term is to do it more and more. Gentle consequences end up beign used less and less as the child gets older because they know that their actions will affect you so they don't have to keep testing it.
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#7 of 26 Old 04-26-2003, 11:58 AM
 
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I've been there - thought I was going to lose my mind - nearly did - but lived to tell about it.

Here is what worked:

Read Positive Discipline - there are a series of books - I liked the PD: A-Z and also Positive Discipline from age 1-3 or something like that.

One thing they say about the 2 year old is that we talk to much: "Shut up and act". So you need to get off your butt, go over and redirect your child, telling them in the poistive, what you want them to be doing. For example, ifyou child is standing on a chair, go over, put them on the floor, while saying "Feet on the floor, please" in your nicest voice.

At this age they are testing all of the boundaries. You can't just tell them once, you must tell them daily for the next year or longer until they get it.

This is going to be hard for you because you have another very little one, who needs a lot of your attention as well.

Encourage compassion and empathy, by modeling that behavior. Pretend that you are being filmed and act - you will feel ridiculous - do it anyway.

Try to arrange it so that you get alone time with your 2 year old, where you totally focus on being with them. Set a timer, tell you child that you are his for the whole hour (while baby sleeps, or your SO watches baby or you get a mother's helper - whatever.) Then let him direct the play, don't tell himw hat to do, just be with him and have fun.

I really did feel the same way about my son - part of it is just being a 2 year old boy. My son will be three next month and is so sweet and loving - I wouldn never had said that about him 6 months ago. Part of it was being overwhelmed by having 2 and part of it was just the age. This too shall pass, so don't let these hard times color your feelings for your son.

good luck!
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#8 of 26 Old 04-26-2003, 09:40 PM
 
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Originally posted by Iguanavere
You can't just tell them once, you must tell them daily for the next year or longer until they get it.
This is another area where I run into problems. DH and my Dad tell me "you are constantly repeating yourself, telling her "no" over and over 15 times and she still doesn't listen. A good spanking will make her listen." And I *do* hate repeating myself over and over. I tell DD "you are making mommy angry by not listening, you are going to get hurt if you open the garage door and run into the street." Then when she does just that, I hear "see, talking doesn't work, you need to spank". ARGH!

Melanie
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#9 of 26 Old 04-26-2003, 10:10 PM
 
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Melanie,

Right talking often does not work with this age. But the next logical step is NOT spanking. The next logicial step is to pick her up and carry her away from something she is not supposed to do . Please try having DH read the "Secret of Parenting" I really, recccomend it to people who are considering spanking becuase the author is not real AP but he is very, very against hitting and spanking. Becuase he is not real AP his reasoning often hits home more with DH's who think you need to spank.
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#10 of 26 Old 04-27-2003, 06:22 AM
 
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I think spanking is not the answer. I think the true answers are to phsically show your toddler how to behave in a nice way. If you break it down and show them they are more likely to listen. It has been in my short experience that it does work to show them rather than talk. Short reminding sentences such as "_____ that's a bad choice", or reminding them there are other fun things to do rather than something that is unsafe-ex. my son loves to play in our car (not a safe playground obviously) so instead I hang out in our tree that is short enough for him to climb in our yard. They will get bored of you soon and want to do their own thing. I am not sure if that is the way all kids work but it works for me and my son. It is just my .02 It is more fun to play with them and strap the little one in a sling to go along for the ride. Hey we can all use the excercise. They all know at this age that if there is something they would like to do such as play with a friend or something then let them know they need to get their diaper change, clothes changed, teeth brushed, etc. to get what they want. These are my techniques i hope they are helpful for you all.
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#11 of 26 Old 04-27-2003, 08:48 AM
 
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Ill paste it here. I think it really gets to the heart of what children are saying in their behaviour and are needing


Quote:
In a recent essay on a family website, a mother related an incident that she felt she had not handled well. She had been hugging her husband in the living room, and their toddler son came over to them and bit her on the leg. She picked him up, but worried that she was reinforcing the biting. She then told him "in a soft-spoken but firm voice", that "you cannot bite people. It hurts them. You hurt my leg when you bit me. Please do not bite again." Three days later she saw it this way:

"I can finally see what I should have done. I should have been firm and consistent from the outset, not letting guilt or anger warp my direction. I should have gotten down face-to-face with him - not picking him up - and told him firmly never to bite again. Then I should have left him alone, not in anger or abandonment, but in gravity, to let the message sink in. I can see it clearly now -- but in the whirl of split-second decision making and the error of guilt I bungled."

Yet both of her responses - the one she employed and the one she wished she had used - left me with some troubling questions: How can a parent ignore her own feelings of guilt and anger? Could she have honestly expressed the anger she felt from being physically hurt? Does refusal to pick up a child who is obviously upset give him the message that he will be loved only when he is "good"? Will he learn to have compassion and understanding for others who are having "bad" feelings? How can one "leave alone" a child without "abandoning" him? Is she rationalizing her actions by doublespeak? And, most important, what has she learned from this incident? And what has he learned? The next time her son bites her, will she be able to talk with him about the angry, jealous feelings which led to the biting? Will he know how to communicate those feelings in a way that will help him to have his needs met? I agree that parents should be consistent and try to avoid giving confusing messages to our children. But what should we be consistent about? What are the most helpful messages we should give?

One of the most important principles of parenting is that the feelings behind a child’s behavior must be recognized, accepted, understood, and openly dealt with, before the behavior can change. Until that happens, the unwanted behavior - or behavior even less welcome to the parent - will only continue. How could it be otherwise? It is the same with adults, after all. If we "misbehave" toward our partner, but he or she makes no effort to understand and accept the feelings which brought about that behavior, and doesn’t hear the message we are trying to send, we will continue to try to express those feelings in the same, or even less effective and less welcome ways.

The mother’s first reaction, to pick up her son and tell him gently not to bite, and her second reaction, to leave him alone, may have been well-intended, but they are both incomplete and ineffective. Discipline, whose Latin root means "to teach", is not about rewarding or punishing; it is about helping the child to learn new skills. Appropriate, loving, and effective messages to a "misbehaving" child have three elements:

* Reassuring the child that his feelings are important, and have been heard and taken seriously, through full, loving attention. Without this message, he will feel rejected and misunderstood, and those feelings will only lead to further unwanted behavior.

* Informing the child that the behavior in question is not the best way to have his needs met. Without this message, he will miss important, valid learning about the needs of others.

* Modeling the preferred behavior to show the child what more appropriate and effective behavior would look like, so that in the future he can have his needs met in an easier and more productive way. Without this message, he will be limited to the same behaviors he has already tried, and little will change.

With all three elements in mind, the mother in our story may have picked up her son and said "Ouch! No biting - that hurts! I can see that you’re upset, but I want you to use words, not teeth: "Mommy, I want a hug too." Even if the child is too young to repeat the words or to remember to use them next time, repeated reminders like this will eventually give him new and better tools to use in having critical needs met.

When we are careful to respond with all three elements in place, we give these underlying messages: "All human beings have feelings. Feelings are not "good" or "bad"; they are normal, valid, and important. I love you enough to stop and really pay attention to what it is you’re trying to tell me, in the only way you can tell me in this moment, at this age, and in these circumstances. I do not like being bitten any more than you would like it. At the same time, I understand that you would not have done this unless you were feeling angry/ sad/ upset/ worried/ disturbed about something. I take your needs and feelings seriously, and I’ll help you to find better ways to express your feelings so that everyone’s needs are met."

Such an approach is the most effective, and indeed the only way to ensure that unwanted behavior will change for the better, long-term. In the story we began with, biting was clearly the only means this child had at his disposal at that moment, with all of his previous experience and his current feelings and needs, to try to communicate something important to his mother. Reacting solely to the behavior, while ignoring the feelings behind it, is a common response by parents who were treated this way in their own childhood. It’s time to make changes.

One of our Natural Child Project Parenting Cards© sums it up this way: "Look past the behavior... what is your child feeling?" When we focus on a child’s needs and feelings, rather than the specific behavior we wish to change, we can then truly communicate our love for our child. That the behavior will then improve is almost a side issue. As Mozart wrote, "Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius." It is also the soul of parenting.:
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#12 of 26 Old 04-27-2003, 11:10 AM
 
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Have to strongly agree that 2yo is too young to be so sure it's not working.

Iguanevere (sp?) was right on target about the getting-off-your-butt thing. I've found my kids are so much more ... antsy ... when I'm not able or too lazy to go over and split them up or physically redirect or whatever ... just saying the words is not enough. Particularly for a 2yo.

I started off the other way. Have come to gentle discipline through the influence of the mamas on this board and "Mothering" magazine's sway. Have definitely seen proof in my own home that it's the better way, from having done it both ways.

Stick with it.

And a 2yo is not a brat. No matter how annoying or disobedient, a 2yo is learning what is and is not acceptable. Please don't buy into that "I will not raise a brat" thing, because that just gives them a label to try on and figure out ...

Good luck ...
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#13 of 26 Old 04-27-2003, 03:32 PM
 
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untomyself's response is right on!!! yes, it's long, but read it again and again!!! it is so true!!! thank you for the post.

heavenly, to see that you refer to your ds as "hyperactive" and "disobedient" and refering to him as a potential brat saddens me. i certainly want you to feel free to express yourself here, so i surely am not trying to offend you.....but what i see is you labeling your son, your son's character, rather than his actions. if you, as his mom...his biggest advocate on this earth...are refering to him in these negative ways then he is certainly going to live up to your judgement of him.

expressing the child's feelings that lie beneath the action is SO key!!! look beyond the action to the feeling...recognize that feeling in words.

SPANKING IS NEVER EVER THE RIGHT THING TO DO!!!!! i assure you you are in no way neglecting your role as a parent by choosing NOT to spank (aka HIT) your child!!!!

have confidence in your mothering instincts. do not allow opinions and suggestions that go against your heart as a mother (including those of your dh) to sway you. setting up an adversarial role with your child is a never ending up hill battle that damages the parent/child bond----you and your children are on the SAME team.
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#14 of 26 Old 04-27-2003, 09:23 PM
 
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? I have a 5 month old daughter who nurses a lot and I can't take 15 minutes to have a conversation about why he did something everytime he acts out because he is acting out all day!
It seems as if we have the same age gap/child spacing going on. I strongly suggest that you nurse your baby in a sling, so that you can redirect your ds at the same time that you are nursing your dd. My ds#2 has always been a marathon nurser, so the sling was my best friend up until a few months ago (now all he wants to do is toddle). I think that you have gotten some great advice here.

I understand how hard it is to split your time between two children who need you. Try to keep in mind that your older child has only been out of your womb for two years. I know what those moments are like when you are trying to change your babe's diaper and your toddler decides that is the perfect moment to try a dangerous balancing act on a piece of furniture. I am not always perfect, but I try to remind myself that my ds#1 lacks the perspective/life experience/coping mechanisms... of an adult. Our toddlers are still just babies that can walk and talk and tell jokes that don't make any sense (but somehow they are still funny). Your ds was the star of the show until your dd came along and now he has to share you. I try to remember that my ds#1 may love me and he may love his brother, but he may not love all the time that I have to spend focusing on his brother.
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#15 of 26 Old 04-29-2003, 10:55 PM
 
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Thanks, Alexa, I wrote down the name of the book and will check it out next time we go to the library. Now I just need to get DH to read it. He gets so angry. Tonight, while he was setting up my printer and I was online, DS (2 yo) climbed onto the dining room table and spilled DH's drink all over the table and floor. When DH saw this, he smacked DS on the leg, so DS runs to me. I comfort him, ask DH what happened, then DH tells me and smacks DS on the leg again while I'm holding him! I said, "Stop that! Just give him some paper towels and let him help you clean up." I gave DS some paper towels and he started mopping up the table. DH replies "Well, he shouldn't be getting into my drink. Now he won't do that again for awhile." GRRR! I am fighting such an uphill battle with DH, I will have to get the book and read it to him since I'm sure he won't find the time.
Thanks to all for your advice. I wish I could think of the right responses to my kids actions when the incidents happen, instead of always figuring out what to do later - like the incident mentioned in the article. I hate the "oh, I should have done *this* instead of *that*." I feel like such a bungler.

Melanie
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#16 of 26 Old 04-29-2003, 10:56 PM
 
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Deleted - my computer burped and didn't show my reply, so I was retyping another one but now see my original reply did post.

Melanie
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#17 of 26 Old 04-29-2003, 11:19 PM
 
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Heavenly, I don't think anything that's happening is amiss. I think your ds is doing a fine job for himself, and although maybe your perspective needs a small adjustment, so are you! 2 is much to young to be able to obey, and I can quote my sources if you like. I've been reading psych and neurology of late, not just my ap library.

In fact, since reading aloud to dh, he has really adjusted his expectations of our 21 month old dd, much to everyone's benefit.

Anyway, I just wanted to be supportive, I hope it came across that way!

Jen
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#18 of 26 Old 04-30-2003, 09:55 AM
 
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siblings without rivalry is an excellent book!!! especially with two children so young.
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#19 of 26 Old 04-30-2003, 11:53 AM
 
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Shellysmama

The book (The Secret of Parenting) is really good. Maybe though you should try another book by the same author aimed at slightly younger kids: "Its Not Fair, Jeremy Spencer's Parent's Let Him Stay Up All Night." These books are very easy to read. There are cartoons and lots of short (1-2 page sections!) It is also funny, as you can tell from the title.


The reason that I think that this book is so much better in your case is that the author is focused on how you, as the parent, have to be in charge, and how to be a "tough" parent! This really appeals to those who believe in spanking. But the author takes the postion that spanking is just wrong and not necessary and show you how to be very TOUGH without it. I bet that would appeal to your DH.
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#20 of 26 Old 05-07-2003, 11:04 PM
 
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OK, I'm almost finished with the "Jeremy's Parent's" book and the Positive Parenting A-Z is ready for me to pick up at the library. I think the author has some good points, although I don't know if I can go thru with "get out of the room _____" to my kids. He seems to think it's OK to take a lot of back talk from your kids? I guess I was pretty mouthy when I was young, though.
So I'm ready to get started "not feeding my children's piggy baby selves" and quit arguing with a 3yo and get off my butt and take some action (gently).

Melanie
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#21 of 26 Old 05-07-2003, 11:53 PM
 
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I am not always perfect
Who is, MamaOui?
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#22 of 26 Old 05-17-2003, 02:23 PM
 
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I have been using GD from the beginning, and I have recently been feeling like I've totally failed my DD. Thanks for reminding me that she's only 2.5yrs for goodness sakes! Reading everyone's thoughtful replies to Melanie has made me realize that I've slacked in a few places: like not GETTING off my BUTT, like lecturing, like not looking behind the behavior.

I had been thinking the problem was HER but it's really her parents! : We've shunted her emotional release so many times that it's not resolved, it's just diverted.

Today (well, not just today) I was feeling a little abused by her, as she's been hitting me (HARD) and pulling a 'mutiny' whenever there's a demand (ie brush teeth, hair, diaper change, etc), and no matter HOW MUCH time I spend playing with her, it's *never enough. If I have to direct my attention to household duties or something, she just makes it harder to do (ie, folding clothes, she'll undo all the work I just did )

Have any of you felt this way? (abused, I mean) Just thwak me if that's a REALLY stupid question. : How do you deal with it if that's how you're feeling?
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#23 of 26 Old 05-17-2003, 03:43 PM
 
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Shellys mama

The author of "... jeremy" does believe that while backtalk is not wornderful, that it is not worth doing too much about. I mean, he suggests talking to the child later (not during the argument, but when you and child are in a good mood) and just saying "I really did not like it when you talked to me rudely today." I have found that this helps but is not going to cut the backtalk completely which is O.K. Also, the less you are bothered by it, the less kids seem to do it.

Also, I usually say "___, you really need to go to your room now" Which is a somewhat gentler way of putting things.

BTY, have you got DH to read any of the book. Maybe even a few pages????

DEBRA,
in the book "Jeremy's Parent's" the author has this chart. It says something like:

How much of your time kids NEED: ALOT of it

How much of your time kids WANT: ALL of it.
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#24 of 26 Old 05-19-2003, 11:33 PM
 
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I have two thoughts after reading the previous posts.

First, it generally works much better with children of all ages if the rules and requests can be stated in a positive manner. For example, instead of saying "Don't open the door, Poopsie!" try "Poopsie, the door needs to stay closed." Now the phrase in the child's head is 'door closed' instead of 'open the door' And if the door is going to be a long term limit, try to find a way to lock the door. A locked door isn't going to be a question of obedience or disobedience. It is a true limit, because it simply cannot be opened by the child and now you don't have to even discuss it.

Second, I'd advise never trying to have a 15 minutes conversation with a two year old about anything. Brief and to the point and then follow through! There is a business management style known as Management by Walking Around (pretty much being visible, accessible, and available to respond to what's going on) and I think it works well for parenting. I often tell my husband that his problem is he engages in Parenting by Sitting on Your Butt. That doesn't work so well LOL.
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#25 of 26 Old 05-21-2003, 10:15 AM
 
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My ds is 20 months old, and there are plenty of times when I wonder if this GD stuff is really "working." But then I have to remind myself that ds is not even 2 years old, and every (annoying) thing he does is perfectly developmentally correct - he's just trying to figure out how the world works.

I definitely agree that you have to "get off your butt." If I want ds to stop doing something I have to get up and physically remove him from the situation. If he's standing on his table, I will go put him back on the floor, and the only thing I say is, "feet stay on the floor."
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#26 of 26 Old 05-23-2003, 08:11 PM
 
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I think it is interesting to decide what "working" means. I don't think it means that once you tell your child something you are done telling them that thing. It takes a long time. The author of "Jeremey" tells about how it took his son years to fully take on the chore of bringing in the cans on garbage day. For years the boy would never do the chore without being asked. Then one day, the dad came home and he couldn't find his garbage cans. Finally, he realized his son had taken them into the garage without being asked. When he said to his son "Wow, you took the cans in without being asked" his kid looked at him like he was stupid and said "yeah, its my job". That took 4 years to "work" As the author said his son had accepted that it was his job, he just didn't do it, until he was mature ennough to do the task on his own.
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