Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Appropriate Consequences

 Drake is beginning to explore his boundaries. Naturally. But geez. This momma does not feel ready for it. And I'm really debating with myself on the right way to deal with it.
I was spanked when I was a kid. Don't freak out. I have great parents and they were always very deliberate and calm about the way they disciplined us. I was not "beat." I was told why I was in trouble, and then given two or three swift swats on the butt. And I survived just fine. Some would say great. I was a pretty good kid and an un-rebellious teenager. I have no violent history and I still have a great relationship with my parents. Same is true of both my brother and sister.
I always assumed I would follow suit when it came to raising my own children. Sometimes it's necessary. The only way to get through to a child, right?
But then I read this article about American children and it really resonated with me. They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. And I see it in my son. He is smart. He understands what I'm saying to him.
I also read this article about toddler discipline, and the idea that any of my children might learn to associate love and pain horrified me.
I had spanked Drake once already when I read that article and it felt horrible. He was throwing a fit and I swatted him once on the upper thigh, and instantly regretted it. The look in his eyes..."Why did you hurt me?!" absolutely slayed me. I scooped him up and rocked him and said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" over and over. I'm sure the whole thing confused him more than anything. I think I've pretty officially decided I don't want to do that again.
But what do I do instead? The notes from our last well child checkup at the pediatrician said to try not to use words like "no" and "don't" and instead tell them what you do want them to do.
So when Drake started throwing all of his cheerios off of his high chair this morning, I started by saying, "Drake, I want you to leave your cheerios on your tray." I repeated that twice after a few more landed on the floor, him looking at me all the while.
Since that wasn't working, I tried a stern voice. "Drake, I'm serious. Leave your cheerios on your tray." One more cheerio gets slowly pushed off the tray, eyes locked with me.
I stood up with the thought in my head that I was going to swat his hand, but within the few steps it took to get to his chair, I had reminded myself that I didn't want to do that. I was mentally fumbling for what I needed to do instead. Take him out of his chair. Turn off his cartoons (he could care less). By the time I set him on the floor, I decided he needed to help me pick up the cheerios. I explained to him what I wanted him to do (he has helped me pick up before) and he did it, for a second. He picked up 5 or 6 before he decided he still wanted to eat them and started shoving them in his mouth. Then he found a toy that was exciting and ran away giggling. I tried to call him back, but knew if I forced it I would be guaranteeing a fit. So I let him go.
I'm not sure if I won or lost today. Maybe that doesn't matter. But surely he's supposed to learn something, and I'm not convinced that even happened. sigh
I would love any thoughts or advice from other mothers, but please, be kind.

*Note: this is obviously not a current picture. It's from exactly one year ago. Do you ever decide to just click through random picture folders on your computer? I did that this morning and found this. I thought it was appropriate to the topic.


  1. I've found that time-out works best for us. Henry typically screams and yells the entire time, but he knows that he has to sit in his chair the entire time. We've also taken toys away which sometimes works too. Henry is a little older than Drake though (I'm pretty sure, he's almost 26 months now) so I know that that can make a difference.

    1. Thanks Jenn - yeah, Drake is 21 months. That five months does make a difference!