Sunday, 21 March 2010

Always learning

Toddler discipline has been on my mind a lot lately. Especially after I wrote this post, my uneasiness with the techniques we'd been using (timeout and count to three) had been increasing. I wasn't able to articulate for myself why this was, but I just knew, it was something I needed to explore.

And sure enough, the next day when I tuned into a program I try to catch on Mondays called The parenting show (a terribly produced local call-in show that looks like it's run out of your neighbour's basement), the topic was toddler-hood. The content of the show is always excellent and right on. There is a host and a psychotherapist who is a parenting expert named Alyson Schafer.

Anyway, someone called in with the very same sentiments I was feeling. She felt that giving a time-out for everything didn't seem very logical. Alyson agreed and said that discipline needed to make sense to kids. If you wanted their cooperation, then the punishment needed to fit the crime. Please note that these are my own words because Alyson rarely uses words like punishment, timeout or even discipline. She gave some examples of consequences for different behaviours and then talked about her latest book. I had been meaning to borrow it from the library for some time but once I realized that the entire thing was about how to deal with misbehaviour, I hesitated no longer.

It's excellent! I'll give you the name here and a few points I've really found valuable but won't bore you with a detailed description. It's called Honey, I wrecked the kids.

Alyson talks about logical consequences, natural consequences and eliciting cooperation versus being punitive.
  • I love that she makes the point that we as adults seem to think we always know best simply because we are adults.
  • She points to ways we can really listen to what our kids are asking for and responding to that instead of thinking we know what they are asking. For example she uses the common problem of attention seeking. She explains that usually there are very real and good reasons why a child is trying to get a parent's attention - maybe you didn't spend any quality time with him after work and instead robotically fed him, bathed him and tucked him into bed.
  • She talks about using consistent non-verbal action instead of nagging. (The kid keeps jumping on the couch. You tell him once to stop because he will fall and hurt himself - or whatever the reason - and then the next time and all the times after grab him off the couch without saying a word). And so many other techniques that make sense and are intuitive.

    Now don't get me wrong, just because I'm almost finished reading the book doesn't mean I've grasped the concepts. Yesterday Deaglan kept jumping off of his potty onto the floor. I told him once, moved the potty back into the bathroom and found him jumping off of one his kiddie chairs when I came back. It took everything in me to not count to three and then give him a time out. It would have been a lot less work.

    You'll notice in these pictures a partially clad Deaglan. Lately he finds everything feels better when done in the buff. Yesterday before he realized how much fun it was to jump off of his potty, he stood atop of it, pantless, and sang Kumbaya at the top of his lungs. The night before that we had a hard time getting him to the table for dinner fully clothed. We finally accepted that we would be eating with a Nude Dude.


  1. Oh, if there is a better example of 'survival of the fittest' than a toddler, then I don't know what it is! Mine is currently giving me a run for my money, too!

  2. I actually use that physical move the child approach often. It does seem to work. Now when they are around 110 pounds, it gets a little tough :) Kim, I think it's great that you seek out advice. Parenting is definitely a constant learning process. I think I'll always struggle to figure out the right way to discipline. Some days I feel like either a doormat or a screaming lunatic. I know, two lovely images :) Funny about your nude dude. Hey, whatever gets him to eat at that table. I say go with the flow for now. Hope you're feeling great my friend!!

  3. I've moved my kids like that, too. And no reason the home should be a "No shirt, no shoes, no service" area - he'll hit that soon enough.

  4. Love it-nude dude. How wonderful and supportive. The goal is that he eats, so well done. This woman you are reading sounds like a really bright lady. Keep listening to advice that supports hearing the voice of the child. Take care. :)

  5. Your Nude Dude is hilarious! T Rex is definitely in his "terrible twos" but we are sure working on make it the "terrific twos". Thanks for the tips. We'll definitely be giving them a try.

    And what a dinner spread! Wow! Can we come over for dinner?!? By the way, I have to re-mail your package - customs issues.

  6. Toddler parenting is hard work! I'm constantly pulling Fiona off the couch and chairs as she tries to fling herself around the world. She was not born with the fear gene! Love the photos!!

  7. I am cracking up as I get to the end of this post because not five minutes ago my son sent me a picture of my grandson, (who just turned two), rolling around on their sofa in the buff.


Thanks for your comment!