Discipline has been an evolving process since our oldest was born. It’s difficult to remember the early days but we tend to have headstrong kids who aren’t afraid to make their wishes known. Case and point, the little one is getting braver by the second and responds to the word “No!” with a wail of protest. She still complies, for the next five seconds at least.
We always try to follow the ideals of positive reinforcement, pointing out the good things in hopes of encouraging more good behavior. Harping on the “bad” behavior often begets more of the same as even negative attention in a busy household is attention focused on that child. Kids know how to push our buttons so when I start getting my words parroted back to me before I even say them, I know it’s time to change my strategy.
That said, many of the tactics we use don’t always prove effective when dealing with toddler discipline. Incentives and rewards are often shrugged aside when a stubborn three-year-old has her nose out of joint about something or other. Praise and encouragement only go so far when she has her little heart set on the sequence of events happening as she sees them.
More often than not, communication is the root of many of our difficulties. It’s not easy for a precocious three-year-old to understand parent imposed limits, timeframes or obligations like work. Sometimes, after attempting to satisfy an endless stream of “Why, mommy?”, “Because I said so!” is the only answer left. If you take a step back and try to view our hectic lives from a child’s point of view it’s easy to see why they balk when we try to hurry, or resist when we try to cajole. Their needs and wants are simple…love, attention, a full belly and some good old fashioned fun.
So as I grind my teeth in frustration after the millionth challenge of the day, I try to put myself in her shoes and find a little more patience. I’ll try to pick my battles and save them for the big ticket items I really care about…manners, kindness and gratitude being at the top of that list.
What are your tried and true best practices for discipline? I’d love to add to my repertoire!