What's your opinion of this discipline technique? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 12:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Before I begin, please, please only gentle, constructive criticism. I'm having a tough time lately.

So, DD is 3 and for the longest time, I've used the following discipline technique when trying to get her to do something: I say, "Grace, I need you to ______." If she doesn't do it, I say, "Grace I need you to _______. I'm going to count to 10 (or sing the ABCs) and if you haven't _______, I'm going to help you _______.

Some examples include: getting in her carseat, going upstairs for her nap, coming in the house (after multiple warnings..."we'll be going inside in a few minutes...okay 2 more minutes...okay after I sing the ABC song").

It actually works almost all of the time. Once and awhile, I have to help her, which means I have to physically put her in her carseat, physically carry her up the stairs, etc.

I have 2 concerns: First, eventually, she'll be too big for me to physically "help" her. Then, what do I do? Second, I'm wondering if this is why she's acting out (throwing things when things don't go her way, screaming and yelling no when I ask her to do something)

What do you think? Any alternative techniques you can suggest???
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#2 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 12:31 AM
 
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We do something like this, but we only "help" when the action is absolutely necessary, like getting in the car seat or (and I realize this one is subjective) brushing teeth.

For everything else, I try to give what my DH calls "false choices." For example, if I ask DD to put on a pair of shoes and she says no, I may ask which pair she'd rather wear. By pretending that I think the problem is the shoes in question, instead of the actual act of wearing shoes at all, I can usually distract her. She then picks a different pair, thinks she got "her way" and everyone is happy.

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#3 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 02:45 AM
 
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I've found explaining the "why" behind the request works really well for my kids.

Just explaining how the carseat is the next step in getting to grandma's house, or going in b/c I'm getting tired or need to start dinner, etc.

Saying, "OK, we're going inside in 1 minute," isn't going to be as welcome as, "Guys, I want to head in and get dinner going. Let's wrap up out here and head in, OK?"
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#4 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 03:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Mama2Bug View Post

For everything else, I try to give what my DH calls "false choices." For example, if I ask DD to put on a pair of shoes and she says no, I may ask which pair she'd rather wear. By pretending that I think the problem is the shoes in question, instead of the actual act of wearing shoes at all, I can usually distract her. She then picks a different pair, thinks she got "her way" and everyone is happy.
I do this a lot...especially when the kids were younger. I usually skipped the "Would you put on your shoes, please?" question and just started the conversation with "We're going to the park! Do you want to wear your flip flops or your sandals?"

The key is to ask questions that encourage the type of response you want - usually by offering only acceptable options. Instead of saying, "I'm going to count to 10 and then help you up the stairs" (where it's easy to focus on your counting and waiting to see what happens), you might try saying "It's time to go upstairs. Would you like to climb up the stairs or crawl up like a tiger?"

Like Monkey's mom said...answering the 'why' or giving a timeline always helped, too. "We're going to grandma's. Once you're safely strapped in your seat, I can drive the car there." or "Let's go inside and start dinner. Would you like to help with the salad?"

I know my kids always responded better when I really focused on what we were going to do next, rather than focusing on finishing the current activity. "Let's clean these blocks up so we can go make dinner" went over better than "You have two minutes to clean the blocks up" (which, of course, slipped out occasionally )
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#5 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 03:47 AM
 
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3 year olds LOVE silliness. If you can find a way to do any hated task in a silly way you can avoid *most* power struggles. We have carseat races, whoever can get to their seat first "wins". Or if I can get them done up in 10 seconds they win (of course this would be accompanied by me fumbling, making crazy mistakes,etc) and I would have to be very exaggerated in my winning/losing routine. The classic "when you are buckled your hands will be free for crackers" helps too!

Stairs are easy, a simple game of chase nearly always does the trick (of course once you catch them at the top you have to smother them with kisses or something). Clothing can be a game (another game of catch, that is big with the 2-4 set) or a race (again, they feel powerful in winning so that seems to reduce the need for fighting for power in other areas).

The goal is to get that good, fun, happy feeling between you. Saying "you must do this or else...." regardless of how kind and gentle you say it still sets you up for the power struggle. Kids (especially around this age) really need to explore how they can impact their world. In order for *anything* to work you will have to find a way to meet this need in some way. That may help lessen the struggles between you as you are on the same side.

And again, when something HAS to be done just find a fun way to do it.


 

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#6 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 10:34 AM
 
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I've used the same sort of technique with a good success rate. The only things I would comment on are your focus on you and maybe the if/then approach.
I find I get a better result when I approach things as "the order of the universe", as we like to call it here. "You need to" "It's time to" keeps the focus off of me and what I would like to have happen and puts it back on "well, it's just how it is" "It's time to get in the car" implies that for the order to flow, this is what happens now. "I need you to get in the car" sets me up for a power struggle because it's one person serving another.
My oldest is nine, and with this method we've rarely had a problem. When there is all I do is repeat myself and help him without saying I'm going to help, which I've learned leads to more power struggles.

"It's time to set the table" as he sits there nodding, still looking at his DS. :handing him the plates: "It's time to set the table".
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#7 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 11:14 AM
 
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Originally Posted by GracesMama View Post
I have 2 concerns: First, eventually, she'll be too big for me to physically "help" her. Then, what do I do? Second, I'm wondering if this is why she's acting out (throwing things when things don't go her way, screaming and yelling no when I ask her to do something)
I do use this technique, but as sparingly as possible. I save it for things like brushing teeth (dd protests minimally, but ds made an incredible fuss and now has major dental problems), getting in the car when we really, really need to leave asap (rarely), putting down a toy that's being used inappropriately, and getting dressed. We might do this twice a week, and we do it gently, not by force. But I don't have a 3 yr old atm .

As for your concerns, your child will likely outgrow this as she gets bigger. And as for the acting out, it's great to take a look at possible causes of misbehavior. Kids act out more when they're stressed for sure. My ds always, always has a huge behavioral regression before a big milestone. A lot of it is just the age, though. Being big enough to know what your want and how to get it, and litte enough that you can't always decide for yourself is really, really hard.

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#8 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 11:44 AM
 
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Second, I'm wondering if this is why she's acting out (throwing things when things don't go her way, screaming and yelling no when I ask her to do something)
I could be. Three is a huge time of independence and autonomy. If there is a steady stream of actions or requests for things that are out of her control (like, wake up, get told to get dressed, get told to get in the car, get told not to touch and explore at the store, get told to hurry in the house to put groceries away, get told to nap after lunch, get told to go back inside before dinner, get told to get in a bath, get told to brush teeth, get told to go to bed/sleep--which all together sounds sort of ridiculous, but isn't too far outside the realm of what can happen in a busy day-in-the-life.) she could really be reacting to that with frustration and an increased need to exert her autonomy.

Add those requests to not being able to reach the cup you want, pick the lunch you'll eat, the clothes you'll wear, the activities you do, whether to sleep or not, etc. and life, for a person who is *really*--developmentally--primed to be expressing and exerting their autonomy, can get pretty frustrating and counterproductive. Especially if you are blessed with a particularly persistent or independent child. (Ask me how I know!)

There's a great article on The Natural Child Project about "Yes" Days--and even if I can't (or won't) devote a whole day to that, it just helps me be mindful of where and when I can give some of that control back and how I can be empathetic when it's not possible.
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#9 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 01:58 PM
 
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I do this, too. I usually say, "Let's see if you can get started doing XYZ before I sing the alphabet song," or something more along those lines. I also have started counting with my dd. I don't know why, but it usually helps her get started on something. I have to threat, I don't even say, "If you haven't by the time I count to three..." I just say, "I'm going to count to three! One, two..." but by then she's usually gone. It's weird.

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#10 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 02:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by monkey's mom View Post
I've found explaining the "why" behind the request works really well for my kids.

Just explaining how the carseat is the next step in getting to grandma's house, or going in b/c I'm getting tired or need to start dinner, etc.

Saying, "OK, we're going inside in 1 minute," isn't going to be as welcome as, "Guys, I want to head in and get dinner going. Let's wrap up out here and head in, OK?"
This is what I do as well and it works most of the time...I do have a few occasions where I still get the tears, but I have found it's usually b/c it's nearing his nap or bedtime...

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#11 of 18 Old 08-31-2008, 07:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mama2Bug View Post
For everything else, I try to give what my DH calls "false choices." For example, if I ask DD to put on a pair of shoes and she says no, I may ask which pair she'd rather wear. By pretending that I think the problem is the shoes in question, instead of the actual act of wearing shoes at all, I can usually distract her. She then picks a different pair, thinks she got "her way" and everyone is happy.
I wouldn't consider those to be false choices. You are giving real choices that are perfectly acceptable to you. You aren't giving a positive and a negative choice knowing that your child would most likely choose the positive choice.

To the original poster, I have a suggestion. I know it's hard but try to keep the "ok?" out of your requests. By doing so, you are offering the child a choice of whether they will do it or not. You aren't meaning to but you are giving the child the chance to refuse. It's really difficult. "Ok?" is such a big part of our dialogue.
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#12 of 18 Old 09-02-2008, 12:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for your input. You've given me a lot of great ideas to try.
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#13 of 18 Old 09-02-2008, 12:14 AM
 
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I've done the same thing, worded a little differently:
"Would you like to brush your teeth by yourself, or would you like me to help you?"
I try to save it for things that are absolutely going to happen no matter what. Honestly, I think it's an ages and stages thing. They like to feel like they're really making a choice, and they like to do things themselves. It worked well for the early preschool years; I don't find myself using it with my 9-year-old.

Something similar is a Waldorf "trick"-- saying "you may." "You may brush your teeth now". "You may pick up the block". I don't know why it works, but it does!

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#14 of 18 Old 09-02-2008, 01:15 AM
 
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I've had to do that with the car seat with my two as well. One new "trick" I've found that has completely stopped the get in the car seat battle has been having me be "so surprised!" when they do it on their own. One day I just said I was going to close my eyes & count to 10 and be so surprised if I opened my eyes and they'd clipped themselves in. They did it and I made a big show of how surprised I was, you know dramatic gasps and "I can't believe it!" Now they just get right in their car seats and I glance over after I've clipped the baby in & they're usually clipped in & I gasp, etc. They ask me to be "so surprised!" about other things, too, like getting in their PJs, shoes on, etc. They ask me to tell them stories about when they were "tiny babies and horsed around in the car instead of getting into their car seats." Yeah, like when they were tiny babies 3 weeks ago.

So, anyway, I've found a playful approach to be helpful.

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#15 of 18 Old 09-02-2008, 04:19 AM
 
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I only skimmed the other responses. Sorry if this has already been mentioned. We do a lot of asking the child to come up with what needs to be done...

"Do you want to go to the park?"

Yes.

"What do we need to do before we can go?"

Put on shoes?

"Do you have any shoes?"

Yes... and the child goes off and puts on their shoes.

Or, I will suggest really outrageous things and the child will correct me.

"We're going to go to grandma's house. I will sit in the front seat and drive the car, and you will sit on the roof of the car in your underwear."

No. I don't sit on the roof in my underwear. I wear my clothes and ride in my carseat.

"Really? Where is your carsear?"

In the car.

"Car you go and get in it?"

Yes.

"Who will buckle you in?"

You will!

"Okay. That sound like a good plan"

On occasion the child wants to do the ridiculous thing we suggest, in which case we discussion the glaring flaws in the plan. There are lots of reasons to not sit on the roof of a moving car in your underwear when you have a lovely carseat inside where in you can sing songs or tell stories with mommy and daddy.

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#16 of 18 Old 09-02-2008, 06:57 PM
 
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"I need you to get in the car" sets me up for a power struggle because it's one person serving another.
Try using "when...then" phrasing: "When you are sitting in your carseat, then we can go to the zoo." Wait in a bored sort of way for the desired thing to happen; stare into space and drum your fingers or something.

Here's how counting worked out for us. My son was 3 years 6 months when I wrote this. (My parents confirmed that I never questioned their magical counting power and never tried counting at them. Your mileage may vary.)

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#17 of 18 Old 09-03-2008, 12:50 PM
 
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Along with this you might consider also trying to help her learn how to talk out what she is trying to say when she throws her toys and such and then talk out a solution whenever you can allow for more time. I used this with dd and found it very effective, even now she is usually really on top of listening and I think that has something to do with knowing I will follow through with what I say. The talking and listening part is also really important along with this though. No matter what style you use, if your child feels like they aren't getting heard enough they may still act out. I have also found that as dd has gotten older I have moved away from picking her up and helping her and more into consequences for not doing what she is asked to do, usually they are logical and ones we have worked out together, but sometimes they are not because I am out of the patience to be logical. If she is negotiating I don't count that as not listening because I want to encourage talking things out and trying to find solutions together and I still give a couple warnings and chances before giving a consequence.
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#18 of 18 Old 09-03-2008, 02:19 PM
 
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This thread rocked my world. Thanks mamas!!! :


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