Long ago (2 1/2 years ago), when we became new parents of a beautiful, tiny baby girl, I started to wonder how we would parent her. What would discipline be like and how would we know if we were doing things right?
At first, parenting was a cinch...but raising our daughter wasnt. Colic hit our house strong and she (and we) suffered from it for 9 months.
But her ninth month was also a huge landmark for another reason. Our baby girl began hitting and throwing tantrums (at NINE months old!). I remember calling my dad to ask him what to do when my daughter threw a tantrum and I also asked if it was normal for such a young baby.
My dad's reply: "She's your daughter...it's normal."
So we began the ignoring game. She would scream, we would act like nothing was happening.
At a year old, we started "hand smacking phase". This phase was good for one reason and one reason only...teaching our daughter things she was not allowed to touch. No hand smacking was involved with her tantrums or other ordeals. It was only used to teach her what was off limits to her. I should call it more of a tap than a smack...I am not sure if it ever even hurt her but she knew it was a negative thing.
Around 18 months old, we started time outs. She would make a bad choice, we would put her in time out for one minute (a minute for each year she's been on this earth).
At age 2, we began the spanking phase. At first, I was very against spanking but it is something that works for miss Petey. I hardly ever spank her without warning. And usually, the only time I spank her is when she gets out of time out before her 2 minutes is up. She knows this is a consequence for her action and yet, she still tests me every once in a while. Or every day.
There are a few main keys that I believe has helped our sassy girl become the girly she is today...as in, a more even tempered, good listening girl. (not that she is always this way).
- I watch Supernanny sometimes and have taken so many tips from her style of discipline. When Petey goes in time out, she sits quietly and if she doesnt, her time doesnt start until she does. She knows not to get up and if she does, she has consequences. After her 2 minutes are up, I start by asking her why she was in time out. This helps her to remember her bad choice and we finish by her apologizing to whomever she has wronged.
- Instead of calling her a good or bad girl, we focus on good or bad choices. This helps her to know that we love her and know she is a good person but her choices were not good. If I catch her doing something she shouldnt, I will sometimes quiz her and say, "Petey, is that a good choice or a bad choice?" If she knows the correct answer, I ask her to stop. If she doesnt know the correct answer, I teach her.
- I try to make her consequences fit her actions. If she says a bad word or yells in my face, she gets a "bop" in her mouth or on her cheek. Also, if she's made a bad choice that she can help fix, she will do that after her 2 minutes of time out. For example, Petey is very afraid of the vaccuum cleaner. She's never liked the noise it makes. A couple weeks ago, she crushed a bunch of crackers into my rug on purpose and so what did I do? After finishing her time out, she had to hold the vaccuum and help me clean up her mess. And has she crushed crackers on my floor since then? No.
- I say the word "no" very often. I hate it. It has been both of my kids first clear word and they have BOTH learned to say it while pointing their index finger at you. Hmm...wonder where they learned that! I have been challenging myself lately to stop saying the word no as often. I read in a parenting magazine that it will help a child understand better if we briefly explain, rather than just yell, "No!". For example, if Spidey is pulling paper off of my counters and throwing it, I'll say, "Spidey, that paper is not for you." and direct him elsewhere. I'm hoping this helps my children realize why they cant do certain things instead of just hearing the word no all the time.
- I am a warner. I almost always give my children a first chance when disciplining them. For example, Petey yells the word stupid and I tell her that is not a nice word to say and if I hear her say it again, she will get a bop in the mouth. She says it again. Bop! This still happens quite frequently since my girly is a tester of boundaries but we stay strong to the boundaries we have set.
- It doesnt matter if other children are doing something she wants to do, if mom and dad say no, she doesnt do it. And if she chooses to do it anyway, she will receive a consequence. Every parent is different and I cannot tense up or release more freedom depending on who we are with. That would only confuse Petey and make her think the things we have taught her are "bad choices" are ok to do some places.
These things we have learned through raising our daughter may not be right for every child. They may not even be completely right for our son. Petey is a huge firecracker and if we don't keep strict rules with her, she would never stick to any boundaries. It is amazing how we have seen a difference in a girl that once was so hard for us to raise. Now that are boundaries are set, we have a much happier household.
And that's how Suze disciplines.