Thursday, January 26, 2012

on discipline

I had a playdate at the house today with a couple moms that I had never met before. (We belong to the same Moms group.) And the morning has got me to thinking about that uncomfortable "D" word-- DISCIPLINE.

Juliet is at the stage of development where it is very hard to share her toys. "No" is a much-beloved word. I believe this is normal, and I choose not to discipline her for it. I know this might be a controversial opinion, but I don't expect her to share her things. Yes, I do need to teach her that we share with friends, because it is the kind and generous thing to do. She will learn this, hopefully soon, and hopefully because I will model the behavior for her. She often will voluntarily share her toys with friends or her sister, and she receives praise for that choice. But I don't expect that she do it all of the time naturally yet, like an adult might, and I try to be patient.

But honestly, it is really, really embarrassing when your kid whines "Nooooo....." when a 9 month old reaches out to grab her toys. It is that embarrassment that makes me doubt my parenting strategy.

It is also really, really embarrassing when you are engrossed in conversation and your toddler decides to stand on the coffee table and start stomping her feet loudly. It makes me want to discipline her.

But, it's me who should know better. I wasn't paying any attention to her, I was actually blatantly choosing to ignore her, and so she decided to stand on the coffee table for my attention.

Yes, she needs to learn that it's not good manners to stand on a table. But it's also poor manners to ignore your child just because you want to show off to some new friends. Right? Do you see what I'm getting at?

At dinner tonight, Juliet chose to throw her food on the floor after I clearly told her not to. And I know that she was testing those limits. I do feel that those are the moments that the discipline does come into play, for her to understand that when we are members of a family, there are boundaries of behavior so that we can all respect one another. I do not want to be a permissive parent who does not teach her child boundaries and thereby unintentionally raise a brat. I just want to be thoughtful abou my reactions.

I am still figuring out the right way to discipline for these types of behaviors. I tried a time-out for the food throwing incident, and I just felt like a fraud. Maybe because my mom didn't do time outs with us as kids (that I know of, anyway), but it just seems like a lame strategy. It doesn't feel like the time out is associated with the behavior, and that it's just a way for the mom to try and feel in control of the situation without really teaching the child anything.

I may change my mind on the time-outs as Juliet gets older, but for now I think I am going to stay away from them. It just doesn't feel like it jives with me or my child.

How about you? Do you do time-out? How do you discipline your toddler?


  1. Ifeel the same way but then i think to myself is she going to be selfish??? Noo just spoiled!!

  2. I stumbled upon your blog through :) When I taught Kindergarten I found with discipline that less was more. The less I showed my frustration or a reaction the more I got out of the child what I was looking for. I would use time out and then would make the activity we were doing look really really fun so that they would want to be with us. That made the time outs in the future more effective. However this was with children that were not MY children. When my little guy gets older, all bets are off! lol

  3. I do the opposite. I make her share all the time, whether she wants to or not. I take things from her and I share things with her, explaining that we are sharing with each other. Thats one of the non-negotiables in our house :)

  4. I think it really depends on the age of the child. When my daughter was a baby, I didn't expect her to share. I don't think the under 1 set understand sharing, so there is no point in expecting it from them. As she got older, we started sorting toys into share/no share. When her friends would come over, we would bring out the share toys, so that there wouldn't be any conflicts. As she got older still, the share pile got bigger and the not share pile got smaller. Now she is nearly 5 and she has just a couple of precious things that she puts away when friends come. Everything else is fair game. She has a little friend whose mother doesn't believe anyone should *have* to share anything...and frankly, that child, although very sweet, is difficult to play with.

  5. I struggle with discipline also. I recently just tried the time-out thing and felt the exact same way you did. All my daughter got from it was that she got to sit on a chair and sing songs to herself for 1 minute. I don't think she had a clue why I put here there, even though I explained why. Not effective for her, at least not yet.

    I try to do exactly what you talked about, only discipline when it is called for and not because I'm annoyed, frustrated or upset... if she purposely does something that she knows is wrong and I have told her not to do it, she receives discipline.

    She is an expert at throwing food and dishes off of her high chair. Now, when she does it (as she is saying "no, no") I immediately take her down and we clean it all up together and afterwards she has to apologize for disobeying. So, I try to match the discipline with the offense. Not always easy!

    I never dreamed discipline would be so difficult!!