Am I crossing into no discipline? - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 14 Old 07-22-2004, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I’m really trying to GD, but I feel like I’m closer to no discipline. Today, for example, DD and I (who is a month shy of 2 years old), were having a snack in the living room, picnic-style. I had a small bowl of cheddar bunnies out, and went to the kitchen to get a drink for myself (like 10 seconds), and when I came back, she’d dumped the bowl on the carpet and was proceeding to grind them into the floor with her feet.

I don’t know if she dumped the bowl on purpose or she was trying to carry it somewhere else (off the of the picnic blanket for sure!). So I tell her, “Stop! I’m disappointed that we can’t have any more crackers since they’re on the floor. Please help Mommy pick them up.” She ran off into her play tent (to play, not in the least bit caring about what I’d said). I asked her to come help me clean up the crackers. She didn’t want to come out of the tent and was asking me to come in, so I put away the tent, took her by the hand back to the cracker mess, and started to pick them up asking her to help. She just started to smoosh them into the carpet with her fingers. I told her to stop, and physically took her hands to stop her from making more mess. Then I finished cleaning, but told her I was angry and didn’t feel like playing when I was angry, and went to fold laundry instead. She whined a bit and was off playing, seemingly completely unaffected by anything.

DH would have told me this is a failure on my part to discipline her. That I’m doing nothing. He’s on board with AP, but he’s pretty skeptical of GD. I’m not sure what to do in these situations. I would’ve been swatted by my parents.

Anyway, DD did just fall asleep, so maybe she was just tired. Usually, she’ll help me clean up when she makes a mess. Sorry, this is so long. I just felt so angry since it seemed DD just didn’t care, and all my rambling is therpeutic.

Is this GD? Have I crossed into no discipline? What do you do in these situations?

Thanks!!
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#2 of 14 Old 07-22-2004, 10:27 PM
 
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I disagree with your dh. You DID discipline. Disciplining is about teaching, right? And there were consequences to your dd's actions. You didn't end up having a fun picnic and playing in the tent. But you also didn't overreact to normal behavior by a child who isn't even two yet! Just because she didn't give you the reaction that an older child might have doesn't mean she was paying attention or absorbing the situation.

You said yourself that the initial spilling may have been a complete accident. So if you had gotten angry and swatted her hand, what would she have really learned? To be scared of making mommy mad?

GD can be really hard, especially at this age. Hang in there. It really is SO worth it.
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#3 of 14 Old 07-22-2004, 10:55 PM
 
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I agree I also think you handled that perfectly, thats how I would have handled it. I actually really like where you said "I'm disappointed that we can’t have any more crackers since they’re on the floor. Please help Mommy pick them up.”
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#4 of 14 Old 07-22-2004, 11:58 PM
 
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I have to start with the note that I had this exact same thing happen with DS when he was the same age. A few times, actually. I reacted quite similarly to how you did and realized after the third or so time, that something didn't feel quite right about my approach. I had to ask myself specifically about why I became angry. What I realized was that it wasn't DS's crushing the crackers into the carpet OR his unwillingness to help me, but my own inability to control his behavior that was fueling my frustration. Reality check for me and another question, "what exactly did I want to accomplish in this situation?" The answer was simply and then again not, cooperation from DS. Which in the end (while I picked cheddar crackers out of the carpet), I was not getting. *sigh* I kept imagining this happening over and over and having to go through this same walking away, not wanting to be around him, telling him I was angry, etc. I just didn't know if I was prepared to do this over crackers everytime.

Overtime, I realized that by reacting too strongly to what in the big picture was a farely minor offense (age typical of course), I was only serving to perpetuate it. In addition, I was creating a rather negative association to cleaning up which was the opposite of what I wanted to do. So I came up with this: let the little things be little things. Create an environment where it's not too personal and connect a positive association with cleaning up one's messes. And help out, because as a family that's what we do... help each other. And of course, model right behavior--it will win out. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but someday...

Typically, if this situation arises, I will say something playful like, "ACK! There are crackers crunched into the carpet! Who on Earth will cleanit up?" DS will usually say something like, "NOT ME!" or my personal fav, "You can clean it up Mommy!" : At that point, I usually grab his backhoe or dump truck and say something like, "Well, I know someone who LOVES cleaning up." He usually has the thing out of my hands and starts cleaning before I even have to pick up one cracker. Once I've introduced a beloved toy and pasttime, he can't resist joining in. If he wants my help, I stay and help. In this situation I make perfectly clear that crackers in the carpet need to be cleaned up, and DS cleans up. Mission accomplished. With that, I tend to save conversations of strong feelings (anger, frustration, etc.), for those things that are stronger offenses, where generally we draw the line at safety and the rights of others.

Anymore, dumping is of the past. As most of this really fun behavior tends to do once the fun has worn off. To keep my reactions calm and silly even, tends to tame it before anything else and anymore, DS takes initiative more often than not when having made a mess, with little or no suggestion from me.

Oh, and I wanted to add here that I do indeed feel you did just fine. If anything I tend toward the opposite end of your DH I suppose but that's only in retrospect of course--hinds sight being what it is.

The best to you!

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#5 of 14 Old 07-23-2004, 03:06 AM
 
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I think you handled it well. I've found that my 2 year old DD absorbs a lot more than she lets on. I had a similar situation today. I was nursing my 3 week old while she ate lunch. When she came out of the kitchen, she was grinning and said " Momma, it's messy". You know the grin...trying to see what kind of reaction she would get. She had dumped her lunch and glass of milk all over the table and floor. I asked her to help me clean it up, all the while explaining how it was hard for me to take care of her and the baby and clean up everyone's messes by myself. She ran away to play, so I brought her back into the kitchen and gave her some rags. She threw herself on the floor and screamed, then ran out of the room. So I put her in her room for a "time out".

She's been exhibiting this kind of behavior since the baby was born. Negative attention is better than none at all. I understand why, but not how to best deal with it. Time out worked this time because I shut her in her room for about 5 minutes, then we talked about it when she had calmed down. She even told me "sorry". But this doesn't always work, and it is very hard to be patient with her when the baby is crying and she's destroying the house to get my attention.

What you did may not have seemed effective to you at the time, but patience works for you in the long run. I think as she gets older you will get a better response from her.

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#6 of 14 Old 07-23-2004, 01:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Embee
...I realized that by reacting too strongly to what in the big picture was a farely minor offense (age typical of course), I was only serving to perpetuate it. In addition, I was creating a rather negative association to cleaning up which was the opposite of what I wanted to do. So I came up with this: let the little things be little things. Create an environment where it's not too personal and connect a positive association with cleaning up one's messes. And help out, because as a family that's what we do... help each other. And of course, model right behavior--it will win out. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but someday...

Typically, if this situation arises, I will say something playful like, "ACK! There are crackers crunched into the carpet! Who on Earth will cleanit up?" DS will usually say something like, "NOT ME!" or my personal fav, "You can clean it up Mommy!" : At that point, I usually grab his backhoe or dump truck and say something like, "Well, I know someone who LOVES cleaning up." He usually has the thing out of my hands and starts cleaning before I even have to pick up one cracker. Once I've introduced a beloved toy and pasttime, he can't resist joining in. If he wants my help, I stay and help. In this situation I make perfectly clear that crackers in the carpet need to be cleaned up, and DS cleans up. Mission accomplished. With that, I tend to save conversations of strong feelings (anger, frustration, etc.), for those things that are stronger offenses, where generally we draw the line at safety and the rights of others.
Wow, Embee. I'm totally impressed. I hope you won't mind being on my mama-crush list.
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#7 of 14 Old 07-23-2004, 03:39 PM
 
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ITA with Embee, and I was going to say to the OP that I think I do even "less discipline" than you in that situation.

When DD dumps things on the floor, I don't get upset. I just say "oh no, crackers on the floor! we'd better pick them up before they get broken!" (she has this thing about things getting broken, like crayons, balloons, etc...so I work with that). Then I ask her nicely if she will help me pick them up. Sometimes she does and I praise her alot "That is such a great help to mama when you help me pick things up!" or "Great picking up, Emily, mama really appreciates that!". If she doesn't pick it up, I sigh and say "oh well, I guess I'll have to pick them up myself". And that's it. I, too, don't want cleaning to be seen as punishment, and believe as Embee does that modelling behaviour really works best.

So far, it seems to be working. DD rarely dumps food on the floor these days (and she's only given dry food without supervision, so if she does dump it's not a huge mess). She went through a big crayon-dumping phase, but I did the same thing - she would often ask me if I'd like to colour with her, and I'd say "okay, but we need to put the crayons in the box first". She is now great about helping me pick them up, never complains about it. She seems to think it's fun.

I really try to avoid situations that are too much for her to handle. Like in Autumnschild's example....my DD just turned 2 last week, and there is no way I'll trust her alone with a glass of anything. She has water in a sippy cup. She occasionally has soymilk, and she is allowed to have it in a glass, but it's a very small amount and always with supervision. We guide her, reinforce good handling/drinking, and if she tries to spill it deliberately, we take the glass away for a bit. Leaving her alone is just asking for trouble. She, too, finds such situations funny (ie. our reactions to her spilling). That, IMO, is totally normal and not bad or necessarily "craving attention" but rather a normal way of exploring her world which includes her ability to cause reactions in others, the way others reaction to specific situations...and like any good scientist this requires multiple trials, lol. Now, if I have to take the glass away, she will tantrum, but I don't punish that. I sympathize with her and tell her I understand, but all the while telling her that "it's not for spilling. you can drink from the glass yourself, or have mama help you, but we don't spill our glasses on the floor". We don't do time-outs, and I don't see tantrums as a problem, merely an expression of emotion. And I also don't believe in forcing/making a child that age clean up. I think it's punishment (which we don't believe in) and will lead to a negative association with cleaning. When she is older, I can use natural consequences to "enforce" cleaning (read: not *making* them clean, but enforcing a habit that has already begun to develop), but I know she is not at that stage yet. However, I can see the habit is just beginning to develop. I have caught her picking up spilled crayons when she wants to colour, lol.


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#8 of 14 Old 07-26-2004, 10:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow - what really amazing advice! It's true, I have to think about what is really bothering me, and I think it *is* a control issue more than some mess on the floor.

Although I had been trying to avoid punishment, and stick to discipline, I see now how my attitude could turn clean up into a punishment. Thank you for that wake up call - I needed it.

This was really weighing on me heavily since I want DD to be able to get along in society. Not to be a conformist or docile person, of course, but to be able to function as necessary in the world at large. I have a nephew who was kind of AP'ed, but not really disciplined and he is pretty abusive to his parents in some ways now as a teen, and I think this clouds my thinking. Maybe it's personality for him too. Anyway, I guess I'm also expecting a bit much from my almost 2-year old and maybe need to look at the trees and not the forest so much! There's plenty of time to learn!

Thank you again! All of the advice and support has been a valuable teaching tool for me! :x
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#9 of 14 Old 07-27-2004, 11:42 PM
 
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OHMTARETU, Wow, thanks for that. I made someone's crush list! I'm incredibly flattered to say the least.

(And to think, I was logging on and checking the posts to make sure I hadn't said something stupid last time I was on-line!)

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#10 of 14 Old 07-27-2004, 11:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Bebelus
There's plenty of time to learn!
Indeed! Everyday all day! The best to you!

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#11 of 14 Old 07-27-2004, 11:49 PM
 
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I would have done all the same things as you except I might do a little (gentle) hand over hand to help her pick up a few. I dont know how gd that is but it has worked for me in teaching pre-k in the past.

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#12 of 14 Old 07-28-2004, 12:06 AM
 
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Wow, I think you did a good job of adressing the unwanted behaviour. Your dd's reaction I'd attribute entirely to her age. Give her a few months and she will be picking up those crackers with you.
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#13 of 14 Old 07-28-2004, 12:32 AM
 
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this is the third stinking time I have posted this. each time though it gets considerably shorteer.
1. she is still very much a baby and despite having very high expectations of my children, expecting them to be obediant and do as I say, and not being scared to impose consequences on them I would never expect a baby that age to have any intrest in cleaning up. She was probably haveing a very good time with the games of dumping and smooshing crackers and running from mom without any knowledge whatsoever that there was anything even remotely wrong.
2) you did an ecellent job, and you did do something, when you refused to give her more crackers and then took away the tent. She saw quite clearly that there are consequences for her actions. No discipline would have been bringing her anotherbowl of crackers in her play tent Also in situations such as this my children have been prone to continue smooshing crackers or whatever while i worked a feverish pace to clean the mess. (did I mention my current little fireball is the same age as yours about) So rather than making things harder on me and my attitude worse toward them I put Ava in her play yard while I clean whatever messes need to be cleaned. Not in a punitie time out way but a "since you can't cooperate and mommy has a life you can be here while I get everything put away from you."

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#14 of 14 Old 07-28-2004, 01:00 AM
 
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ITA with Embee, and I was going to say to the OP that I think I do even "less discipline" than you in that situation.


I think you (the OP) did great!!! *And* kept your cool, which is job #1 for me (the hardest and the one I have to do most often )

 

 

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