My dd is newly two years old and has a personality that some might call "head-strong," "independent," or "spirited." She's very bright and curious and is going through the "I can do everything myself" phase, to the point that if we even *touch* her while she is putting on a shirt, she will take the whole thing off, throw it down, leave the room, come back, pick up the shirt, and the begin the whole difficult, frustrating exercise all over again. I accept that this is her age and her personality and a product of our parenting. Putting on her own clothes is one thing, but often she engages in toddler behavior that makes excessive noise, mess, damage, etc. and this is the problem.
Now, I am not even sure what gentle discipline is; I just started visiting this part of MDC. But I think maybe this is what we have been doing with her. We do not often say "no." We try to redirect her when she is doing something we don't want her to do. We do not yell, spank or do time outs. When she purposely pours her cup of juice on the floor, I let her know that now the juice is gone and she has nothing to drink. I have been satisfied with this way of guiding her. It feels gentle and loving, but dh and I are beginning to part ways.
I think it completely offends his sensibilities to have a child who will not "listen to him." For example, yesterday she discovered the water cooler and kept playing with the knobs, filling up the little grate/catcher thing with water and splashing water on the floor. dh repeatedly kept calling her name to get her attention before she removed the little grate and poured the water on the floor. DD paid zero attention to him. She removed the grate and poured out the water anyway. To me, this is messy and annoying, but I accept that it is typical for a 24 month old and I look her in the eye, tell her I don't like it when she does that, then redirect her to something else. DH feels worried that we are raising a disobedient child who feels no need whatsoever to do what her parents say. He feels that this is both disrespectful and dangerous. He cites the hypothetical of her running out into the street and not coming when we call her name. I feel that she is still a baby enough that it is our job to keep her from being in such a situation in the first place. I feel that it would be expecting too much for a 12 month old to exercise that kind of obedience and control, and likewise it is too much for a 24 month old.
DH and I both grew up in cultures where spanking and heavy-handedness are considered necessary to acheive the ultimate goal of raising well-behaved, non-bratty children. I was rarely hit (maybe twice in my life) but some other children in my extended family were hit much more, I'd say beaten. I also grew up seeing domestic violence, so I am very much about being non-physical with my child. DH was spanked quite a bit when he was a child. When I asked dh whether he wants to spank dd, he replied no, but when she cries for things instead of trying to redirect and placate her with other things, we should just let her cry. He also feels that it will likely be necessary to physically punish our son eventually, because "sometimes that's all boys understand." To me, both of these suggestions are unacceptable.
I feel as though I need to get a handle on this, as our baby will soon be here, and there will be new demands on our family and a period of adjustment for dd. I feel that dh is getting more frustrated and feels that we are giving our lives over to a pint-sized tyrant (even though I am the one nursing 32 weeks into my pregnancy and home with her all day
: ) I feel that this is just a challenging and tiring time and that it is hard enough for little girls to maintain their spiritedness and self-esteem as they get older without having it beat out of them (physically or otherwise) by their own parents.
Do any of you have any suggestions as to how I could move dh and I toward a compromise in this? Any reading suggestions or any other kind of suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am so tired, hot and hormonal, and I fight so many little daily battles with dd that I have no energy for these bigger battles with dh.