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<p>Our son is 2 years old and extremely active. We love this, but after visiting three families for an extended Thanksgiving vacation, we are beginning to question some of our discipline -- or lack of discipline -- techniques. For example: it's not a big deal for us if our son wants to eat a few bites of dinner then get down to play with his trains, and come back to eat some more. We'd *rather* he enjoyed a full meal with us, but he squirms and yells and climbs out of his chair so we just figure, eh, no need to turn this into an issue so we let him get down and play. He comes back to the table for a few bites, or sits on our laps and eats more.</p>
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<p>But we spent time with 4 boys his age and they all sit through meals, for the most part. And it was such a pleasure! Granted, two of them are much much more mellow than our boy is, but still ... how nice not to have a constant issue every night of squirming and yelling then getting up and running around while we're trying to eat dinner.</p>
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<p>This issue of discipline or boundaries came up a lot. One house's rule: no climbing up the stairs into the bedroom areas. The other two grandkids (our son's age) didn't go up the stairs but ours was constantly trying to get up there. No opening the freezer door: other kids didn't do it, but ours opened it every chance he could get. No stealing the baby's pacifier, but he took it and ran with it whenever he could. No dumping toy bins on the floor, but he'd dump Legos etc and make a huge mess. Etc. Of course in each situation we would tell him the rule, explain the "why" of the rule, try to enlist him in understanding the validity of the rule, and insist on it over and over, but every chance he could get he would break it. We got a lot of advice: "Kids need boundaries," "You have to be more firm," " he needs to know there are consequences to his actions," "you can take the toy bin away from him if he dumps it, you know," "be the parent," etc etc. I totally get their point: it really was obvious that their kids weren't breaking the rules as constantly as ours was, and it was difficult to be around ours when he was constantly pushing the edge.</p>
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<p>We have been strong Unconditional Parenting advocates, but I'm thinking we need some better techniques. What do you think? Thanks!</p>
 

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<p>Some of this is just personality.  Some kids are more into discovery than others.  Also, you say they're all the same age, but even just two months can make a big difference in maturity at that age.  Also, some kids stop getting into everything a little earlier than others.  I wouldn't assume it was discipline that makes the difference here.  And it's very normal behavior for that age, and so long as you were keeping track of him so he couldn't get into trouble, I don't see why it was anyone's business and why they felt they should comment.</p>
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<p>He's probably a bit young for explanations about why a rule is there and trying to enlist him in help with it.  With toddlers, I just pick them up and move them and use maybe two words.  "No stairs."  "Door closed."  "Gentle touch."  And the same two words over and over every time they try something that specifc thing they shouldn't do.  Then maybe distract with something else.  I think toddlers catch on faster the less you talk and the more consistent you are.</p>
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>mamazee</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1281953/thanksgiving-family-time-making-me-question-our-discpline#post_16075648"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>  And it's very normal behavior for that age, and so long as you were keeping track of him so he couldn't get into trouble, I don't see why it was anyone's business and why they felt they should comment.</p>
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<p>Exactly that. Your DS sounds like my daughter at that age. She's just much more ...spirited, I guess, than a lot of kids. I got crap from my BIL constantly when she was that age, but really, her behavior has always been age appropriate, it's just that my niece is a much calmer, less intense child. It can be difficult when your child is bothering other people and they're up in your business about it, but really, I don't think you're doing anything wrong.</p>
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<p>(And if it makes you feel better, I think that the kids who are more into everything and discovering and pushing limits are smarter, so there! At least that's what I tell myself, lol.)</p>
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<p>I know the feeling! Two years old IS a little young and every kid is different. That being said, I can identify with what you are saying. It's hard and it's embarrassing. Especially at holiday time. But I'd say keep your expectations realistic. Why is it necessary for a 2 year old to sit at the table with anyone? Are we auditioning for a role on Father Knows Best? Of course he's squirmy; let him go. The other kids want to (or have to) sit there...so be it. I think people who are in a home (vs. a restaurant) could use to be a little more relaxed about this. If it is the up & down that they don't like, then you could, I suppose, tell your son that he can get down from the table if he wants, but the up & down thing is not OK. When he gets up, you set him up with a toy that will occupy him in the next room, and his plate, too, if he wants to graze. But he can't come back. That way he can squiggle and squirm to his heart's content!</p>
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<p>All I can say is that it can get better with their age. Of course you have to set limits. But even if you are consistent with that, your child may not be able to control himself very well yet, and if that is the case, it will improve as he gets older. Mine is 7 years old and just now is he getting to be more responsive to what we say. We've never believed in knee jerk or arbitrary punishing or threatening (though we are guilty of plenty of that), but now that he is older and able to understand us a lot better, we DO set firm limits and we do explain why it has to happen this way. We treat him with respect, and he knows we're not being arbitrary about it. (And in fact, if he does think that we are saying No for some knee-jerk and arbitrary reason, attitudes can get ugly. He can tell!)</p>
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<p>But for the most part, we tell him that we must act appropriately for wherever we are, whether it's someone's house or the store or a class. It's the polite thing to do and not only that, we won't be welcome in a place if we carry on like wild animals there. And if he doesn't comply with that, we will leave the place or, if we can't, some other privilege he values will go away. He knows it because it's happened. But don't get me wrong. We're not constantly following him around making sure he doesn't misbehave and constantly taking privileges away. Every child is different and it will take a different approach. I have a REALLY long post on here, where I told the story of how we handled the "appropriate behavior to the place" issue (the thread was called <strong><span style="font-size:12px;">Why is it my kids never behave but other kids do?</span></strong></p>
<p><a href="http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/1279803/why-is-it-my-kids-never-behave-but-other-kids-do/60">http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/1279803/why-is-it-my-kids-never-behave-but-other-kids-do/60</a></p>
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<p>There might be some extreme UP folks who object to my methods, but think of it this way....you are not doing him any favors if you don't teach him to behave appropriately to the setting, because he's not going to be welcome in places that he's going to want to go.</p>
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<p>But families, especially at Thanksgiving, could use with a little lightening up too. It's not an audition. And what is everybody really there for--the people that they love? or to adhere to a ritual? Which is more important? Can we put importance where it really belongs and let humans be humans along the way? I say this as someone who has experienced the kind of parenting harshness that made it seem like everything was important but the kids. (and you can hear the chip on my shoulder) The food, the rituals, the prayers, the carping relatives, the control freaks, the sudden discipline experts that emerge seemingly out of nowhere just when we're at our most challenged....everything is more important than the kids and what they are enjoying. It's their holiday too.</p>
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<p>You'll do fine.</p>
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<div> We love this, but after visiting three families for an extended Thanksgiving vacation, we are beginning to question some of our discipline <span style="display:none;"> </span></div>
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<p>After extended holidays with family I question my sanity. ;)</p>
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<p>It does sound pretty normal. For my son though if he were continuing to say dump the toy box I would put it away for a bit. That is one of my rules-I hate stepping on little toys or worse vacuuming them up. Dumping tons of stuff on the floor is a no no here as well.</p>
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<p>We sit our son in a booster so he can't roam around. Dinner is important to us and we are setting the expectation now that we eat together.</p>
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<p>Other than that I do not see how I would change anything. I ignore discipline advice from other people for the most part. What we are doing is working-I can clearly see it as my son grows.</p>
 

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<p>You need to figure out what is important to you and not worry about what others think.  All of the examples you mention are typical 2 yo behavior. At 2 kids learn by doing and by watching.  </p>
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<p>You can not teach a child not to dump out toy bins in one lesson.  If you have always allowed your child free reign of the toys, have had no issues with "the mess" he is not going to understand suddenly not being allowed to do so.</p>
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<p>If you have always allowed him to eat in stages, to run around at meals, etc then he is not going to suddenly "get" why he can't do it any more.</p>
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<p>If stairs have never been off limits then it will take a few times for a 2 yo to understand they are off limits somewhere else.  Which is totally OK in my book. My sister never wanted the kids upstairs without an adult and my son learned after a while that upstairs was OK at home but not at Aunties.</p>
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<p>If you are OK with his behavior then let all the "advice" roll off you. Smile and nod and pass the stuffing.</p>
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<p>However if you like what you saw at the holidays you can model the behavior you want and develop strategies that work.  Yes it will take time but you pick your spots.  </p>
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<p>For example toys strewn everywhere drives me crazy! From a young age I modeled picking up as we go along (even though it meant me picking up the most, singing silly pick up songs, rotating toys and using storage containers with tight lids). When we were done with art we put away the art stuff before getting out the clay.  We put away play silks and dress up stuff in the basket before dumping out the legos, etc.</p>
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<p>Family dinner time is important to us too but the eating part was really secondary. It was more about spending time as a family.  At 2 our family meal times maybe lasted 5 minutes, LOL, but we modeled the behavior we wanted and by 3.5 we were spending a full hour relaxing, chatting, play dinner games, etc. </p>
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<p>So don't worry about what others think.  Decide which things to sweat and let the others go.  2 is still so young!</p>
 

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<p>Your son's behaviour certainly sounds normal to me!  Both of my kids would have been doing exactly the same thing at that age.</p>
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<p>Like a pp said - learning "new" rules at someone else's house takes quite a bit of repetition.  It is perfectly reasonable to expect that explaining why we don't dump the toys out or go up the stairs *here* won't stick the first time (or maybe even the tenth time!). </p>
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<p>We have a friend's toddler who is a big dumper of toy bins.  When they're coming over I put away a bunch of the toys to kind of limit the amount of mess that can be created.  I bring things out one at a time (at the same time putting away things they're done playing with).  So, in your case, I would have happily put away the bin of toys, if he wasn't actually playing with them.</p>
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<p>I am the OP - thank you! This is all so interesting and helpful. I asked another UP friend about this -- we had visited her over Thanksgiving. I'll post her response (name changed) to see any responses. I don't know about all the talking and reasoning around mealtime ..... but I do think the safety issue on the sidewalks is important. A lot to process here! Oh -- and I don't really care (that much) what other people think, it's just that I actually *did* appreciate the kids who were energetic and awesomely themselves, but who also didn't run up the stairs or open the freezer door or dump toys all over the floor .....</p>
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<p>Consequences ... what are "natural" consequences? Natural seems to me, if you go outside without your raingear on you're going to get wet. But "if you dump your toys on the floor I'm going to take the bin away" seems a parent-made-up consequence. Confused.</p>
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<p>Thanks!</p>
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<p>"SINCE you asked (otherwise I would not say anything about this one)- okay, I love you guys and your love for O comes across always, BUT... it looked like you guys are inconsistent with requests and I don't see consequences (they might completely be there, I just didn't see them).  I am experiencing that I am a WAY more lax parent then anyone else on the east coast where I'm visiting family, so it is all perspective, but if you want O to follow rules, start making natural consequences for things- like if O doesn't eat dinner at dinner time, then no food later.  When I do this with K I give him a few warnings during the meal (like, "K, tonight when dinner is over that means no more food.  We will be all done eating and the food will go away.  If you are hungry you need to eat now.  Dinner is the last time for eating." said in various ways 2x throughout meal and again when O says he wants to get down).  Before O gets down I would ask him if his belly is full and if he says yes, then I would repeat back what that means (so, "O, you said your belly is full.  That means you are all done eating for tonight.  Since your belly is full and you don''t want anymore food, dinner is over.").  Same kind of thing goes for the street.  If K runs too far away (for me that is over 20 ft about not near a curb) then we hold hands or he goes is the stroller.  I have explained to K that it is my job to keep him safe and that running far is not safe.  K is always to stay close and where I can see him and he can see me, unless he asks permission first (like when he asks to place chase or hide and seek).  K has spent a couple of weeks at the farmers market while watching friends run around b/c he ran away the last time or on the way there and was in the stroller.  We always talk everything through lots before and during any consequence.  Another one we do is if a friend/doll falls out of bed at night, then s/he sleeps on the floor.  He gets an advance warning for everything before the consequence can happen.  If I happen to try to follow through without the warning, that is when K loses it.  The trick is consistency, just pick a few rules that are very important to you and follow through ALL the time.  There are exceptions to everything (like when K goes through a growth spurt we will have 2 nights of a late night snack, but then back to the routine)."</p>
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Nova0929</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1281953/thanksgiving-family-time-making-me-question-our-discpline#post_16075864"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>I am the OP - thank you! This is all so interesting and helpful. I asked another UP friend about this -- we had visited her over Thanksgiving. I'll post her response (name changed) to see any responses. I don't know about all the talking and reasoning around mealtime ..... but I do think the safety issue on the sidewalks is important. A lot to process here! Oh -- and I don't really care (that much) what other people think, it's just that I actually *did* appreciate the kids who were energetic and awesomely themselves, but who also didn't run up the stairs or open the freezer door or dump toys all over the floor .....</p>
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<p>Consequences ... what are "natural" consequences? Natural seems to me, if you go outside without your raingear on you're going to get wet. But "if you dump your toys on the floor I'm going to take the bin away" seems a parent-made-up consequence. Confused.</p>
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<p>Thanks!</p>
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<br><p>You are absolutely right that taking the toys away is not a natural consequence. It's a logical one. Natural consequences are what happens with no intervention. Logical consequences are what happens is someone intervenes. I think that some logical consequences can be non punitive. If you are taking the toys away for a little bit because you are tired of cleaning them back up, that's not neccesarily punitive.  I think it can even be ok to take a toy away  if the child is playing with it in a way that the toys owner doesn't like.  Just remember  it's not about punishing it's about setting your kid up for success. If they have shown  over and over that they just can't help but spill the toys out, it doesn't help to keep putting them back in that situation so that your relatives can be frustrated with him.  If your son gets upset  empathize and try to honor the impulse if possible, if not  try to find something together that he can do.</p>
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<p>Also remember all kids are different  for every spirited kid there's a laid back one. For every kid that can handle their emotions easily with no fuss, there's a kid like me who isn't trying to be dramatic, they just feel things more. For every kid who is happy being a snuggle bug indoors, there's a kid like mine who wakes up begging to go outside. Maybe your kids and their kids have different temperaments too.</p>
 

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<p>I wouldn't call myself a completely GD parent, but I discipline a lot like your friend wrote. My kids have natural consequences for misbehavior. (we also do time outs in the corner though too) If they don't eat dinner, then that's it, and they won't get anything else. Same with running away from me at places. They all hold on to the shopping cart or stroller and stay next to me. If they run they have to get in the stroller or hold my hand. For the continuous dumping of toys I would probably do the corner in that instance(after a couple of warnings). It falls in to the "not listening to me" category. When my kids won't pick up their toys, continue to disobey about off limits things, and just won't listen, they go to the corner. Most of the time I don't have to do it anymore though. I will just ask if they want to go to the corner. They can do what I ask or go to the corner, those are their only options. Most of the time they choose to pick up their toys or do what I was asking. If they have to go to the corner though, as soon as they get out they willing do what I asked. I don't tolerate squirming at the table either, but at home I am more lenient. We were just at a restaurant the other day, and my two year old would not sit still. I put her in the "corner"(when in public we just find spots for time outs), and she sat still after that. At home once they get up from dinner they are done eating for the night. I ask if they are done eating or full because they aren't getting more after that. Sometimes we don't eat at the table though, so they can roam more(but still usually don't).</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Nova0929</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1281953/thanksgiving-family-time-making-me-question-our-discpline#post_16075864"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a> Oh -- and I don't really care (that much) what other people think, it's just that I actually *did* appreciate the kids who were energetic and awesomely themselves, but who also didn't run up the stairs or open the freezer door or dump toys all over the floor .....</div>
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<br><br><p>I totally understand this feeling!!  My friend has a baby who is just so sweet, laid back, and he sticks close and is just a wonderful kid!  Then I babysat him myself one day and he ran all over the place, didn't pay a bit of attention, and wouldn't let me change his diaper!! </p>
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<p>Just remember that when you see kids for just one day, or a few hours, it doesn't tell you everything!  My friend (the same one as above) used to tell me that she thought my ds was so well behaved, and even though he's active she didn't think he was *that* crazy - then she told me she'd give me a break and chase him for me at the park one day.  She was definitely singing a different tune after that!  It was pretty funny.  We all compare our children to others (its hard not to) but remember, even the most well behaved children don't behave all the time!</p>
 

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<p>IMO, 'talking' to a 2 year old isn't a very effective method. 2 year olds are <em>physical</em> learners, not verbal learners. Verbal explanations need to be kept short and to the point. They also don't have much impulse control, and once they start an action, it's very very difficult for them to stop. For that reason, I chose to discipline my kids at that age by:</p>
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<p>-Prevention (easy to do in your own home, hard in someone else's) -- prevent access to things that are out of bounds, dangerous, etc. So, if the rule were "no go upstairs to the bedrooms" and I had an active 2 year old, I'd get a gate. This might also include helping them explore the 'forbidden' thing to get it out of the system. Walking upstairs with him to show him that it's really boring, opening each door and showing him. With Christmas lights coming, it's a good time to teach the 'one finger touch'. It's hard to do a lot of damage with a single finger, but it does get the urge out. I've also asked my kids to keep their hands behind their backs if they simply couldn't touch (e.g., a store with lots of breakables that we were doing out best to get out of in hurry).</p>
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<p>-Redirection - help him find something similar to do that gets the urge out. If he's really into dumping the toys, then set up a dumping and filling activity for him (some small toys and a big bucket).</p>
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<p>-Removal -- if they just couldn't help themselves.</p>
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<p>I also am a fan of logical consequences for many things. Yes, they're different from natural consequences. But in the toy bin situation, I would have removed the bin from him the second time. The first time, I would have enlisted his help in picking things up (meaning I do 98% of the work, he throws a few in) and reminded him of the rule. The second time shows me that he doesn't have the impulse control yet to follow my request (very normal at 2), and I'd remove the object causing the problem. I don't view that as stunting his emotional development. I view it as removing preventing conflict.</p>
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<p>I like your friend's consequences for running off/being in the stroller. I'm not so happy with the food thing, but I could see doing it at 3 or 4. I'd also make sure my child got a lot of snacks. 2 year olds have insanely small stomachs and often don't need to eat that much at once. But I think practicing staying at the table is a good idea.</p>
 
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