am i being coercive? am i wrong? what would be the better way? - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 04:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, I've been thinking about how i handle certain "battles". I look back and think, "hmmmmm...that was coercive" and I don't feel good about it. We are a very gentle family and we definitely are always trying to provide choices, but... Let me give an example:
ds didn't want to leave greenway (walking area). daddy, who'd been away from home for 3 days, was waiting for us at home. ds is kicking and screaming as i try to fasten him in carseat. i say, "daddy is waiting at home. don't you want to go see him?" ds replies "yes". i say, "well, then we have to get buckled in the car and drive home."
another example might be ds pulling the dog's tail (i'm going nutso over this one). distraction doesn't work. trying to instill empathy isn't working yet (is 28 months too young to understand tail-pulling = pain?). saying no and removing him doesn't work. so, i then resort to, "if you pull cheyenne's tail, she's going to have to go upstairs and be away from you for awhile."
is this coercive disclipline? if so, what could i do differently?
thanks!
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#2 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 04:49 PM
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I don't think either example is coercive, but I particularly wanted to point out the importance of the second one. The dog does not have infinite patience. Eventually, it will respond to having its tail pulled by biting. You can't let that happen. Removing the dog may be upsetting to your dc, but it's necessary to keep both the child and the dog safe.

In both cases, i think you're pointing out logical consequences, and then taking reasonable action that meets the needs of the people involved. There may be a better way to handle it, but I don't think your approach is bad in either case.
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#3 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 04:54 PM
 
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ds didn't want to leave greenway (walking area). daddy, who'd been away from home for 3 days, was waiting for us at home. ds is kicking and screaming as i try to fasten him in carseat. i say, "daddy is waiting at home. don't you want to go see him?" ds replies "yes". i say, "well, then we have to get buckled in the car and drive home."
i think that example falls under the column of logical consequence. when i want/need to go some where and lucien is stalling, i have to remind him that we cant go to the store/library/park unless such and such is done. it reminds him that im not bugging him to put on his shoes just for the heck of it.
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#4 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 05:00 PM
 
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Is it coercive? Imo, yes.
Is it unreasonable or bad? nope, not at all.

I've noticed recently that what I thought was "empathy" in my 2.5yo, is actually not. It's more of "doing the socially acceptable thing because it's expected" kwim?

I am not non-coercive, but I do work to make as many situations coersion free, because I think that coersion interferes with any learning that could come from situations. I am anti-punishment (punishment meaning "penalty for an offense")
I have to admit, though, that I put "expectations" and "simply insisting" in a slightly different category than I would put, say, physical force and consequences (punishments). I can't really say why though.

With the carseat thing, I would have tried to find the reason that ds didn't want to be in the carseat, and tried to see if there was a way to let him play another minute before putting him in. Or maybe given him a snack while I was putting him in his seat.
I would have said something like "It's time to get in the carseat. Dad is at home waiting for us, and we are going home now." Something like that, that doesn't really ask ds to make a choice. If he still didn't want to get in, I'd see what I could do to make it easier- like I said, find a toy, let him play out of his seat for a few minutes, give him a snack, whatever.
In those situations where I am reasonably sure that a few minutes out of his seat isn't going to change anything, I will use force as a last ditch effort. One time we went grocery shopping and the ONLY thing ds wanted was to nurse and go to sleep. We live 3 minutes away from the grocery store. I knew that nursing him wouldn't make it any easier to get him in his seat in 5 minutes. So we put him in, got home quickly, and then he was really happy to be able to nurse comfortably in bed with me.

As far as the dogs, I have always told ds "Brooke doesn't like that" and he's very careful to respect that (of course, explaining what she doesn't like, and why, and how I know). BUT I don't think it's necessarily that he knows it hurts (he probably does, but I'm not sure that alone is enough for him to control his impulses all the time), rather that he knows that doing things the dogs don't like it totally unacceptable. (he always reminds me that they don't like getting their nails clipped, when I go to clip them. I do tell him that they feel better walking when their nails are shorter).
Whatever he's doing to the dogs, I try to figure out the impulse behind it, and give him an alternative way to express it. We've never had the tail pulling thing, but for hitting because the dog was too close, I told him to hold up his hand and say "MOVE!". Whatever the impulse it, it deserves to be expressed, but in a socially acceptable way.

oh, wait- I might have misunderstood. Did ds get into the carseat willingly after being told that Dad was at home? In that case, I don't find that coercive at all. It was true, and it was giving ds information that he lacked, that was needed to make an informed decision.

As far as putting the dog upstairs when ds is having a hard time treating her properly, I don't think that in itself is coercive. I think it's a good thing to do, while you are working on ensuring that he will be gentle with her. But I think saying "If you don't x, then I will do x" is coercive (because it is a logical consequence).

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#5 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 05:01 PM
 
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In both cases, i think you're pointing out logical consequences, and then taking reasonable action that meets the needs of the people involved. There may be a better way to handle it, but I don't think your approach is bad in either case.
I think you are just explaining to your child what will, or won't, happen if xyz does/doesn't occur. Children, especially at this age, need to be told the consequences (both positive and negative) of his/her actions. You can't, for example, say "No pulling the dog's tail" a few times, and then remove the dog without telling the child this will happen.

I do this with my daughter. For instance, "If you don't come over to get your pjs on, then we are not reading a book before bed." When she doesn't come over, and she later asks for a book and I tell her no (after reminding her why not), she realizes that she made a bad decision and doesn't fight it too much. Eventually, she learns not to play games when it's time for bed.
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#6 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 05:55 PM
 
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I don't see either of those situations as being coercive. You are giving information. I do this all the time.
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#7 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 07:36 PM
 
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You're doing great!
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#8 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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so let me get this straight: if i say to ds who doesn't want to get out of the tub after AN HOUR (!) that he's basically cutting story time short, that's not coercing him into getting out of the tub? i have missed the boat on coercion vs. logical consequences i guess! i've been feeling bad about thinking that i "coax" him into doing stuff. it's never a reward system, but it does feel punishing. like if i say "the longer we take to get the bath finished, teeth brushed, and pjs on, the fewer stories we get to read" seems like i'm punishing.
i'm :
ok, so what if i said "DO YOU WANT TO GO TO GRANDMA'S HOUSE THIS EVENING?" he answers "yes". "THEN YOU NEED TO PICK UP YOUR TOYS FIRST SO THAT WE CAN GET READY"
eeks, that seems coercive. is it bad? it seems so b/c it's like i'm dangling a treat in front of him only to possibly jerk it away should he not comply with the toy pickup, kwim? so, if it's as bad as it feels, then how can i accomplish the same thing in a better way?
sorry if i sound like an idiot. i sure do feel like one!
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#9 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 08:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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[QUOTE=Deva33mommy;7563363]With the carseat thing, I would have tried to find the reason that ds didn't want to be in the carseat, and tried to see if there was a way to let him play another minute before putting him in. Or maybe given him a snack while I was putting him in his seat.

oh, wait- I might have misunderstood. Did ds get into the carseat willingly after being told that Dad was at home? In that case, I don't find that coercive at all. It was true, and it was giving ds information that he lacked, that was needed to make an informed decision.
QUOTE]


regarding the carseat stalling - he did do fine after the "daddy's waiting at home for us" thing, BUT...had I not had that to say, like we're just going home b/c it's time to leave, dinner's soon, etc...who knows? generally, i've found that letting him have one more minute at something after the fussing has started doesn't really work. i try more of a heads-up system, i.e. we're leaving after we walk to "x" spot or after you've gone down the slide "x" number of times, whatever...and then i say "how do you want to get to the car? like a train? like a racecar? and that usually works to make it fun.
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#10 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 08:15 PM
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I think your bath example is really just providing information about probable consequences. It's OK for parents to do that. You would want your child to know, for example, that if he breaks his toys, he won't be able to play with them anymore. It's not coercive to provide this information when your ds is playing in a destructive way. Think how distressing it would be if he only found out about the consequence after the toy was broken.

I know there are those who would say that bedtime is flexible and can be moved if it needs to be. That approach doesn't allow my family to get enough sleep. I've used exactly what you did with the stories.

If you said, "get out of the tub now, or I will take you out" that would sound coercive to me (though I wouldn't have a problem with it in some circumstances - like if the water had gone ice cold, my dd had been in the tub for two hours and was shivering, the information about stories wasn't helping her get out of the tub, and/or it was late at night and I needed to get myself to sleep.)
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#11 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 08:27 PM
 
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so let me get this straight: if i say to ds who doesn't want to get out of the tub after AN HOUR (!) that he's basically cutting story time short, that's not coercing him into getting out of the tub? i have missed the boat on coercion vs. logical consequences i guess! i've been feeling bad about thinking that i "coax" him into doing stuff. it's never a reward system, but it does feel punishing. like if i say "the longer we take to get the bath finished, teeth brushed, and pjs on, the fewer stories we get to read" seems like i'm punishing.
i'm :
I'm on of those moderate users of GD...in other words, I use what works and leave the rest. So you might not want to take advice from me.

Anyway, I think your son is way too young to be able to manage his own schedule. When it comes to bedtime, the reality is that there is a finite amount of time to get things done. I don't think it makes sense to leave that up to him. To me it seems more unreasonable to give him the room to decide how long to stay in the tub (especially if it's hours) if that means that there won't be time for stories and that would be upsetting to him. Does that make sense? The alternative, I guess, is that you let him decide the bedtime so that you can fit everything in and take as long with each thing as he wants.

I guess I don't see anything wrong with coaxing him to move through the routine if you're giving him a reasonable amount of time to enjoy the tub. I also don't think there's anything wrong with outside factors needing to guide what happens sometimes....this is how life will be, right? I guess I'm confused with how this is coercive.
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#12 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 08:49 PM
 
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so let me get this straight: if i say to ds who doesn't want to get out of the tub after AN HOUR (!) that he's basically cutting story time short, that's not coercing him into getting out of the tub? i have missed the boat on coercion vs. logical consequences i guess! i've been feeling bad about thinking that i "coax" him into doing stuff. it's never a reward system, but it does feel punishing. like if i say "the longer we take to get the bath finished, teeth brushed, and pjs on, the fewer stories we get to read" seems like i'm punishing.
i'm :
ok, so what if i said "DO YOU WANT TO GO TO GRANDMA'S HOUSE THIS EVENING?" he answers "yes". "THEN YOU NEED TO PICK UP YOUR TOYS FIRST SO THAT WE CAN GET READY"
eeks, that seems coercive. is it bad? it seems so b/c it's like i'm dangling a treat in front of him only to possibly jerk it away should he not comply with the toy pickup, kwim? so, if it's as bad as it feels, then how can i accomplish the same thing in a better way?
sorry if i sound like an idiot. i sure do feel like one!
Oh honey, you're not an idiot! You're a caring, thoughtful, and obviously very principled and introspective mama!

I think that coaxing and convincing and natural and necessary parts of human communication. You're not bribing or threatening, just explaining things logically and hoping he agrees with you. Nothing coercive there--in the end, he can still stay in the tub if he really objects.

How can he make an informed choice if he isn't given full information? Relaistically, if he stays much longer in the tub, you'll be too tired to read him a bijillion books. He deserves to know this.

Picking up toys....again, nothing wrong. Maybe the knowledge that he's going to grandma's is all it takes to make the idea of picking up agreeable. Nothing wrong with that.

I personally don't use TCS/NCP/CL. I have very few objections to coercion. But I've read a lot of the literature, and from what I see, you're fine.

Something that TCS literature doesn't mention as often as it should is that, as parent, you do have rights. It's perfectly all right not to read a story because you're too tired. Don't let yourself be coerced into anything either.
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#13 of 21 Old 03-15-2007, 09:40 PM
 
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so let me get this straight: if i say to ds who doesn't want to get out of the tub after AN HOUR (!) that he's basically cutting story time short, that's not coercing him into getting out of the tub? i have missed the boat on coercion vs. logical consequences i guess! i've been feeling bad about thinking that i "coax" him into doing stuff. it's never a reward system, but it does feel punishing. like if i say "the longer we take to get the bath finished, teeth brushed, and pjs on, the fewer stories we get to read" seems like i'm punishing.
i'm :
ok, so what if i said "DO YOU WANT TO GO TO GRANDMA'S HOUSE THIS EVENING?" he answers "yes". "THEN YOU NEED TO PICK UP YOUR TOYS FIRST SO THAT WE CAN GET READY"
eeks, that seems coercive. is it bad? it seems so b/c it's like i'm dangling a treat in front of him only to possibly jerk it away should he not comply with the toy pickup, kwim? so, if it's as bad as it feels, then how can i accomplish the same thing in a better way?
sorry if i sound like an idiot. i sure do feel like one!
I think there is a fine line between "giving information" and "coersion." I think where the line comes in, is how you respond to ds's choice AFTER getting the information.
So "We need to get out of the bath so we have enough time to read stories" is giving info.
But if ds refuses, and you end up with "ok, if you don't get out, there will be no books" that's a "logical consequence" (aka punishment). If you are trying to MAKE ds make a choice that he doesn't want to make, by making him choose between one thing he doesn't want to do, and another thing he doesn't want to do (end the bath vs. no books), I don't see how that can be worked out to NOT be coersion.
If ds refuses to get out of the bath early, and you are running out of time to read books before bed, one non coercive solution might be to have ds choose one short book, you read that, then perhaps you can cuddle and talk to him or sing a song or whatever.

Like I said, I'm not non-coercive. So I'm not saying that what you are doing is bad. I'm just commenting on what I'd call it. kwim? Though if you think it feels punishing, then I think THAT'S what you should focus on. I think there are times that I "coerce" ds that doesn't feel like it is punishing to him (that's my best guess anyways). But I try very very hard to stay away from anything that feels punishing.
After a certain amount of time in the bath, I do end up *insisting* that ds get out.
But I don't use "logical consequences" (actually, a friend of mine pointed out that they are better called "related consequences" because calling them logical kinda makes it sound like it's the MOST logical action to take, when there are indeed other solutions that make just as much sense (finding agreeable solutions, alternatives, and determining the reasons, etc) )

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#14 of 21 Old 03-16-2007, 03:08 AM
 
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Also, like with many things in life much depends on the "presentation"

In case with the situation at the park it could be:

You "Would you like to see Daddy?" DS: "Yes" You "Me too! Race you to the car!"

Coersion? No - mutually agreeable solution


Bath

You "Hey, look at the time! And we have not even started reading our book yet. Would you like to snuggle up and read the book now?" DS "Yes!" You "Me too! Let's go, hold my hand I'll help you get into your robe(towel, whathaveyou)

Grandma

You "Would you like to go to Grandma tonight?" DS "Yes!" You "Great! Let me help you pick up the toys and we'll be on our way!"

And so on It's not about "making him do as you say" It's about "living life together", being on the same team if you will.
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#15 of 21 Old 03-16-2007, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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see below - double post
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#16 of 21 Old 03-16-2007, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Also, like with many things in life much depends on the "presentation"

In case with the situation at the park it could be:

You "Would you like to see Daddy?" DS: "Yes" You "Me too! Race you to the car!"

Coersion? No - mutually agreeable solution


Bath

You "Hey, look at the time! And we have not even started reading our book yet. Would you like to snuggle up and read the book now?" DS "Yes!" You "Me too! Let's go, hold my hand I'll help you get into your robe(towel, whathaveyou)

Grandma

You "Would you like to go to Grandma tonight?" DS "Yes!" You "Great! Let me help you pick up the toys and we'll be on our way!"

And so on It's not about "making him do as you say" It's about "living life together", being on the same team if you will.
LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!!! BUT what if his answer is NO! when i think most likely he really doesn't mean that. i mean, sometimes, i think he says no for the heck of it, and in fact, "nope" is his new favorite word. so, knowing that he really DOES want to go to grandma's house, but hearing him say "no" to asking if he does, then how would one proceed with the toy pickup? or knowing he wants to read stories before bed but also doesn't want to get out of the tub and so on...
you mamas are GREAT! thanks for all your help thus far!
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#17 of 21 Old 03-16-2007, 07:39 PM
 
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BUT what if his answer is NO!
There are many no's, way more than "yeses", aren't there

Well, first I prepare myself for the fact that indeed when I live with some other person there are going to be times when that other person's desires are completely different from mine. Seems obvious but I caught myself being taken aback by that fact sometimes

Then I try to again find a solution that will work for both (or three, four, etc.,) of us. I also try to involve the child(ren) into finding such solution right along with me.

So, let's say to the "Would you like to see Daddy?" the answer is "NO!" I would say something like "Oh, I see, you prefer to play in the park. *I* on the other hand REALLY want to see Daddy. What do you think we can do? What about you play for longer time and I will wait, but then we go see Daddy. How much time do you think you need?" I *usually* get the answer specifying the minutes and we go then - DC got to participate in decision making

If not, some other ideas can be bounced back and forth - can Daddy come to the park?

There is a fine line - sometimes I catch myself rattling out ideas and not giving DD a chance to think. Often she surprises me with *her* solutions that are totally outside the "box" and unconventional, but I have to be open minded

Just brainstorming, I am sure others will have more ideas!

ETA:
Just thought about something else that makes a big difference for us – making plan for the day together (as age appropriate).

For example – “Let’s see what we are going to do today? What were your plans?” DS: “Go play outside” You <writing it down> “Got it. After that we would probably need to go eat / see XXX / go shopping” <writing it down> and so on.

I know I passionately dislike it when DH comes up with “stuff to do” on the spur of the moment - *I* have to have things planned, at least somewhat. I found that both of my kids when small felt more in control when they knew what lies ahead, yk?
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#18 of 21 Old 03-16-2007, 09:41 PM
 
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Yep, my ds has surprised me, on more than one occasion, with a solution of his own, that worked for both of us.
Sometimes, he'll say no to toothbrushing. If I'm calm enough to explain that it has to be done, and we need to find an agreeable way to do it, he'll sometimes suggest some sort of game to play around toothbrushing. Sometimes it's nurse a little, brush a little. Stuff like that. And he's usually pretty agreeable about doing it then.

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#19 of 21 Old 03-17-2007, 12:08 AM
 
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For me it is about being super flexible and creative. I have also learned to let go of what I think I "needs" to happen.

For example, we are trying to leave and get into the car seat and he wants to climb himself. Fine. I stand and wait but after a few minutes it is clear this is going to take awhile. So I say I am going to count to 7....can you get into your car seat that fast. Or I will close my eyes and sing a song...will you be in the car seat when I open them? Or I find a flashlight I keep tucked away in the car and say, "jump up and I will help you turn it on when you are buckled". "oh, you want to buckle yourself...okay, oh you need my help, great."

Bathtime: I will hit the drain or ask him if he wants to hit the drain. We don't keep exact bedtimes so I wouldn't take away a story or anything. Or I just wait until he is cold and offer him a cozy towel. He loves getting out of the bath b/c I wrap him in a towel and hold him cradle style and in front of the mirror I make a big deal about him being my snuggly baby and he LOVES his "baby" time. Soaks it up....I do too!
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#20 of 21 Old 03-17-2007, 12:52 AM
 
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and he LOVES his "baby" time. Soaks it up....I do too!
Awww Even my 19yo sometimes likes to put his head on my lap (can't quite snuggle in the towel, lol) and be "my baby"
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#21 of 21 Old 03-18-2007, 08:08 AM
 
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The ideas here are great, thank you!

I was coming here to post about the same thing. I often wonder if I am being coercive when I explain to DD what will happen when she does something (like the dog example). The replies here offer a lot of insight, thanks.
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