Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ahhh dreaded discipline.

i don't spank my kids. and i don't do timeouts (by definition). i dont really do much as for disciplining my kids.

that sounds horrible, doesn't it? lol well, its not. at least not to me so far. what i do with my kids (and *plan* to for the next ones) is pretty simple.

sawyer is really too young. she is mainly all about distraction. she, at not yet 2, doesn't understand some things as well as aidan. duh. of course not. that will come in time. so here's what we do for aidan, mainly.

i will set up a disclaimer first that, no, of course it doesn't work all the time. of course she has freaking meltdowns when she is overtired. of course she and sawyer still battle it out sometimes. but overall - this is what works for my 3 year old.

1. repetition. she is a child of routine. i say reminders to her 3 times or so on the way to the store. she fills in the blanks now, though. i remind her that if she doesn't want to sit in the cart, she has to walk by us (well, she can't really sit in the cart anymore bc of the 2 i have in there already). that there is no screaming. none. and that we are going to have a fun/happy time. sometimes i just say "hey, what are the rules?" and she responds with "stay by you, no screaming, and only happy!!" lol she *gets* it in theory, but still, at the store i have to remind her if she starts to wander or get whiny over nothing.

all of this is the same for wherever we go. i remind her if we go to the park that when i say we have to leave.... "we leave, momma!!" to try to preface the "i dont want to go yet!!" battles. it doesn't always work, but she understands.

i did this with "holding the car" as well for when i get the other kids out. aidan, for a long time, has been told to put her hand on the car while i grab sawyer out (thank you parent's magazine for the idea years ago). and it works. now, with another kid, its so important that she remembers - so i make sure to remind her every time (and if i forget - she lets me know she remembered)

2. praise. "aidan you are doing SUCH a good job of walking next to me!" "wow, aidan. you have been such a great helper today!" etc etc. she beams with pride. that alone helps a downward situation or an overtired kid.

3. we go places at the best times of day. i hardly expect my 3 year old and almost 2 year old to be happy if we went to the store or park before naptime or when they are hungry. thats unfair. even i am cranky at those times of day ;) i refuse to punish a kid who is acting their age. i expected too much from them and that is my own fault.

4. distractions. if i start to see a "oh no. they are getting antsy" moment on the horizon, i whip out the distractions... stickers, food, aidan's highlights magazine, games... anything that ive brought with me. at home, i can bring out coloring stuff, paint, whatever... but i *try* to pre-empt it. if i already have a crying child, they are going to basically tell me to stick that crayon where the sun don't shine during a tantrum. and then its too late.

sometimes we sing songs. ok a lot of the time. lol in the car, in the store, wherever. i am basically singing a lot of the day. but they like it. :)

5. freezes/cool down time. this is where my psuedo timeout comes in. lets say aidan hits sawyer. i tell her that "no, we dont hit our sister" first. if she does it again, i take her away from the situation and talk to her quietly and explain to her why we dont do that. its hard bc its HIGHLY likely that sawyer provoked it ;) so i just remind aidan to tell *me* when something happens so i can take care of it.

same goes for this situation: lets say we are all at the mall, or a restaurant, or the park. anywhere in public and either kid has a complete meltdown. i remove them. totally from the place. i will pick them up kicking and screaming and take them to the bathroom, off to the side, somewhere! just the 2 of us. they need some place to cool down. to forget why they had the tantrum to begin with. sometimes aidan and i will just sit in a bathroom and chat for a few mins. i remind her "we don't ______" and then we go back to what we were doing.

i hardly think that making them sit alone for some amount of time does anything. maybe. but it wouldn't for my kids so far. aidan is far too sensitive. she'd sit and cryyyyy and cry as if i just broke her heart. and sawyer (although too young anyway), wouldnt care. she has a face of "justification" when she does things. she the type of kid that says "i'll take my punishment just fine bc you deserved it!!" haha

maybe later a structured timeout would be useful? but for now - its not for us.

like i said before, this is hardly fool proof. but nothing really is when you have preschoolers and toddlers.

when we went to disney aidan had a total meltdown by day 3. total. we had both been sick with the flu or food poisoning (still dont know which) before we left and the first couple days. aidan felt better, but since we were in a hotel, we went to bed late, had no resemblance to a schedule and no naptime or quiet time - it was hard for a kid like her. so, by day 3, we were out about lunch time and playing with a group of women and their kids on a playground, which is by a body of water.

in aidan's head - she wanted to swim. in that body of water. um, lol sorry babe, no. she stripped down on the playground and then later had a near freakout of wanting to go swimming. i put her in comfy pants with i brought because, well, i know her. lol, talked to her off to the side, and then eventually just walked her around one of the stores around the corner.

she was overtired, hot, over it. but what can you do? she came back from the cool AC'd store much better. she had time to chill out.

that may not work with all kids, but it did with her. i told her we could go swimming at the hotel pool later (instead of this, uh, lake thingy) and she was okay with that (and certainly did NOT let me forget it haha).

i think you have to do what you have to do with your kids, but figuring out the *why* before acting on the action is the best approach for us. and i think people forget that their are motives - even behind a tantrum. and that finding out those motives and then seeing the signs before the tantrum happens - will make things a lot easier in the end.


  1. you've got some great ideas here, thanks for posting this!

  2. I know I'm not a mama yet, but I completely agree with you. My husband and I regularly have those parenting discussions and he grew up with a sense of "discipline." I speak of positive reinforcements and directive approaches which I think is what you're describing. You're the parent...and we (you) can't expect your kid to act like an adult. But, we as adults can better prepare our kids for various situations by just teaching them good behaviors. So yeah, what you said. LOVE IT!

  3. "i refuse to punish a kid who is acting their age. i expected too much from them and that is my own fault." I totally agree with this! It drives me crazy when I see parents in public flipping out on their kids because they've run out of patience for sitting still in a restaurant, etc. Dude, it's a 3 year old. Get a grip!

  4. Great approach all around. I'm also the crazy lady who sings in the store, in the parking lot, in the car, wherever if it keeps DS from having a meltdown. :)

  5. Love this! i'll be sure to use a ton of approaches from here.