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Let's Talk Babies!

Discipline

NO NO NO NO

As parents it is the one word we feel like we say most often.  It is the word we get so tired of saying it we wish we lived in a world where we didn’t have to say it ever again. NO. No you can’t have cookies before dinner.  No you can’t stay up past your bedtime.  No you can’t break curfew.  No you can’t borrow the car.  No you can’t hit your brother.  No you can’t use bad words like that.  No you can’t….and the list goes on and on and on and on.

Being the mother of a 2 year old I use more than my fair share of the word “NO”.  Some days are worse than others.  Some days I can actually get through the whole day without having to use the word “NO” much at all.  Other days, well other days I might as well record the word “NO” and just play it on a continuous cycle!!  What I have learned in my short time of being a mom is that I get a better response if I am creative with my use of the word “NO” or if I spin into a positive somehow.  Changing things up a bit breaks up the monotony and saves me from feeling like all I ever do is say “NO”.

Kids get tired of hearing the word “NO” as much as we get tired of saying it.  As time goes by our “NO” loses it’s punch and our kids start ignore those “NO’s” they hear over and over again.  Kids like to hear “YES” every now and then.  They like to feel like there are things in this world that they are allowed to do.  We can understand that can’t we, I mean adults like to hear “YES” every now and then too, we all do.  By being a little creative with our use of the word “NO” we can all get a little bit of what we want.  So, here are a few creative ways to spin your use of the word “NO” so that you say “NO” less often and “YES” (or something else positive) more often.

  • Instead of saying something like “No, you can’t do X until you have finished Y.” try saying “Yes, you can do X when you finish Y.”  It sounds easy enough, right?  I use this one a lot with my daughter.  She responds a lot better if she hears it as a positive rather than a negative.
  • If your child is doing something they are not allowed to do, say throwing a ball in the house, tell them where they can throw the ball while you are telling them can’t run in the house.  For example, “Remember,  throwing the ball is an outside game.  You can throw the ball outside.”.  It helps if you can then give them the opportunity to follow through and head outside to throw the ball around for a while.
  • Be specific when you are telling your kids to stop doing something.  Instead of saying “No throwing food” or “No whining”, etc.  Say things like “Please stop throwing your food.” or “Please use nice words to tell me what you want.”  Taking the word “NO” out of the equation may just get you better results.

The idea is to try to avoid saying “NO” so that you don’t feel like that is all you ever do and your kids don’t get tired of hearing it and stop responding to it.  Of course, in the middle of a heated moment it may be difficult to remember to spin your “NO”, but if you try to do it most of the time the few times an actual “NO” comes out won’t seem so bad.

What do you do as a parent when you get tired of saying the word “NO”?  What spinning techniques do you use?

parenting

Parenting requires a lot, and I do mean A LOT, of patience.  It requires the kind of patience that doesn’t come naturally for most of us.  It calls for the kind of patience that definitely requires a conscious effort.  Do you have the patience for parenting?

I’ve always considered myself a pretty patient person.  There are times that I can be extremely patient but, of course, there are other times when I just don’t have it in me.  I think we are all a bit like that.  Patience has always been a big part of my daily life, even before I became a parent.  My career, before becoming a stay-at-home mom, required a lot of patience.  I dealt with the public during times of trial, during times of anger and frustration.  It required that I listen patiently to my clients and gather the patience necessary to work with them to find a solution.  My clients, given that they were going through something frustrating and annoying, were, needless to say, not very patient with me or the process.  They expected results yesterday and were quick to become agitated and angry.  It took a lot of conscious effort to find the patience necessary to get the job done.  I prided myself in the patience I had under fire.  When I was pregnant with Maya I thought that my job skills would come in handy during parenting, I mean how could a child be any more difficult to deal with than some of my clients :)

Well, I quickly found out that being a parent requires more patience than I have had to use in any other area of my life.  There are days I question my ability to do this job.  Days when I question if I have the patience to make it through to bedtime.  Parenting is hard work.  Parenting a toddler is more challenging than anything else I have ever done.  It takes more skills, patience and creativity than any other job I have ever had.  It is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  One little smile, a big hug or even just hearing the work “mommy” makes it all worth it and makes those moments when my patience was lacking simply disappear.

Keeping my cool under pressure can be tough sometimes.  I admit that I have my moments when I’ve had enough and yell because I just can’t take it anymore.  I’ve started with time outs when necessary to help Maya learn about consequences and they seem to working for the most part.  But we still have those days when nothing works.  On those really rough days when I feel like there is only one tiny string holding it all together there are a few things I try that help keep my cool, like:

  • Breathe and consider the action.  Is it just me be impatient or is this really something worth getting upset over?
  • I try to engage my daughter in activities that I know don’t usually end with trouble.  For example, my daughter loves coloring, so if things are going south I’ll suggest a coloring session or a painting session to help ease both our nerves.
  • We head out.  Some days our only option is to run an errand or do a little shopping but getting out of the house helps us both.  A change of scenery can work magic for a frustrated toddler and a frustrated mom.
  • I try to have at least 2 or 3 little adventures planned for each week.  Fun activities that can be used to encourage good behavior.  Things like our weekly playdate with our good friends, or a trip to the zoo or park if the weather is nice, or a mommy and me class.
  • If all else fails we spend a little time doing our own thing.  I’ll do a little house cleaning and she’ll watch a movie, play with her toys or read a book.

The nice thing about these days of toddlerhood are that toddlers are very distractable, change from being really mad and frustrated to be happy go lucky again in no time flat.  So even in those moments when things aren’t going so well and we are both frustrated I know that better times and big smiles are just around the corner.  I have found that keeping my cool and being patient are keys to successful, frustration-free, days for both of us.  It is sometimes easier said than done, but I do my best and that’s all we can really do in this job that has no handbook.  At the end of the day when my daughter and I are snuggling up together reading a bedtime story I know I’m doing something right.

What tricks to do you use when frustrations are high and patience is low?  How do you and your kids get through those tough days?

Temper tantrums are par for the course with toddlers.  As they begin to understand how the world works, what they like and don’t like and gain a little independence their lack of communication skills, frustrations and they fact they often live on a fine line with their emotions can lead to temper tantrums.  Toddlers throw tantrums for all kinds of reasons from being upset because you are withholding something they want to being overstressed and not knowing how to express that.  The key to dealing with your toddlers tantrums is figuring out what triggers them and finding a way to resolve the tantrum without giving in.

We’ve all been there, walking through the store with our toddler screaming at the top of their lungs.  We’re embarrassed and want nothing more than to make them stop.  We’ve also all witnessed this happening to another parent, feeling bad for them and wanting to just say to them “It’s ok, I’ve been there.”  Parents often fear they are raising “that child” the holy terror that can’t be controlled.  But fear not, every toddler throws a tantrum every now and then.

So, what can a parent do to help control the tantrums?  Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your cool.  I know it can be hard sometimes, but if you react strongly to their tantrum you are showing them that, that is the way to react when you are mad, upset, frustrated, etc.  Staying calm and reacting with a cool head is the best approach.
  • Don’t give into unreasonable demands in order to stop the tantrum.  You are the adult and make the rules.  If you said no to something or took something away don’t back down just because your child throws a fit.
  • Attempt to use distraction (this won’t always work).  If your child is throwing a fit because they can’t play with a certain toy try to get their attention with another toy.
  • If time-outs work for your child then try that.  Sometimes have a few minutes alone to just get their emotions out is helpful.
  • Get down on their level and talk about the situation once they have calmed down a bit, and offer them an alternative.  Say something like “I understand that you are upset that we can’t go outside right now, but how about we color instead.”
  • Avoid tantrum triggers.  If your child always melts down when she is hungry or tired plan ahead.  Make sure she eats when she is hungry and try to avoid having her be overtired by making sure she gets enough sleep.

It is impossible to avoid all tantrums, they will happen now and again.  Keeping your cool during the tantrum, talking about it afterwards and avoiding tantrum triggers will at least help reduce the number of tantrums and make those that do happen a little more bearable.

What do you do when your toddler has a meltdown?  What works best to avoid them and then curb them when they do happen?

I purchased and read the above book based on a recommendation from my mother-in-law.  She suggested it as a great book to read and tell my readers about.  Several years ago she taught parenting classes and used this book as part of her program so I thought it was worth a read.  I purchased the book before getting pregnant, but didn’t start reading it until after I found out.  I guess I had extra motivation given that I would be parenting a young child in the near future.

The book discusses a parenting style and approach called Systematic Training for Effective Parenting of Children Under Six.  It was developed and written by Don, James and Don Jr Dinkmeyer and Joyce and Gary McKay.  The newest edition was published as a whole back in 1997, but some of the sections date back to the 80s.  Although it isn’t new material it is still very relevant today.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this approach to parenting is how much of an impact this approach can have on your child throughout their whole lives.  It teaches parents how to raise their children with respect, understanding, and consistency.  The book discusses and teaches parents how to understand their young children and where their behaviors are coming from, what they mean, how best to handle them, and how to use your actions to help your children learn and grow.  The goal of the book and this approach to parenting is to have a respectful, well adjusted child who understands that there are consequences to their actions, that others have feelings that need to be acknowledged and respected, and that they know what it takes to deal well with the many situations they encounter in their daily lives.

I would highly recommend this book to all parents.  The book includes some great examples so you can see the approach in practice or how you can get a better outcome by dealing with a behavior differently.  If you have young children this is definitely worth a read.  You can click on the photo above and it will link you to Amazon where you can read customer reviews and purchase the book.

One of the most challenging parts of parenthood is the development of a discipline system that works. We all have different personalities, and thus different approaches to how we view parenting and discipline. It is very important for couples to discuss their approach to both parenthood and more importantly discipline before they are faced with the first discipline challenge. By discussing your views ahead of time you can more easily work out an approach that is right for your family, and will incorporate aspects of each of you.

With the popularity of such shows as Super Nanny or Nanny 911 it is easy to see that discipline is a challenge for many families. Approaching discipline is a very personal matter and your approach will be different from the next person’s approach. However, there is one commonality between effective discipline approaches, and that is consistency. Consistency between parents and consistency in the approach itself.

When it comes to discipline consistency is key, but so is adaptability. What works for one child is not necessarily going to work for another. A stern talking to may be all it takes to get your little boy to correct his actions, however, a lengthy time out in a quiet area may be necessary to correct your daughter’s actions. We as parents have to determine what works for our child and use that approach consistently.

Good discipline is about teaching your child more than punishing your child. By teaching your child about what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is not you are helping them grow. Teaching them that there are consequences to all of their actions you will not only be helping to correct bad behavior now, but you will be preparing them to be a good member of the grown up world later.

Discussing and deciding on the discipline approach you will take with your children with your partner will not be an easy task. The important thing is to discuss it, you may not agree on everything, but you should agree on the basic philosophy. Remember consistency is key.

Here are a few books regarding discipline that may help you and your partner in your discussion and your development of a plan that works for your family.

Discipline is that part of parenting that we all wish we could avoid. No one wants to discipline their child, but it is a fact of parenting. By planning ahead and discussing what approach you will take with your partner you will be better prepared when faced with that first discipline challenge.

What approach do you take to discipline and what things have you found work best with your children?