Until I had a child myself I never really knew how early children do understand what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do. I have a very active 22 month old son who is already testing the limits that have been set. He will get up on his rocking chair and start to stand up, look to see if I am watching, and do this partial stand with his eyebrows raised as if to say what are you going to do about this. At times I have to look away to keep myself from smiling. You have to admit it is a creative mind that tries to see how far they can push the limit. But, I don’t want him to know I think it’s funny so I never smile at him even if it is. Once you reach this stage you know you have to start getting creative and staying on top of the behavior or you will have a little tyrant on your hands. I would not deal well with a tyrant. I believe in respect and I believe this is a huge ingredient missing out of kids today. Disciplining toddlers is an adventure. Timeouts have worked for me so far so I will discuss how I use them and how they work.
Before I get into that I want to say a few other things. I do believe in spanking also, I just believe it is something that should be used for really serious things. An example would be if a car is coming and they don’t listen when you tell them to stop. Something that is detrimental to their life or health needs to be dealt with in a more serious manner than sitting in a chair. They need to know they screwed up. Listen, I know some people think this hurts a kid or whatever, but it hurts a lot less than being run over by a car. I don’t believe that being spanked makes a child violent. My brother and I were both spanked and neither one of us are violent people. He’s a firefighter who saves people’s lives, and also works for an environmental company. I am one of the least violent people I know. I have never even been in a fight in my entire life. What I am saying is that even if you don’t agree with everything, that does not necessarily make it wrong. I do believe that any wise parent tries to find effective and creative ways to teach their children right from wrong. I think that you should have various ways that you discipline depending on the offense. Disciplining toddlers is important because they are at the stage where they are learning cause and effect. They must learn when you say no they should listen.
The closer my son gets to two the more things he tries. At first I did the normal thing most parents do like move things out of their reach, distract them with another object, child proof things etc. But, after a while I noticed he would do things not just because he wanted to look at them, but to see how I would respond. I don’ t think there is anything wrong with this. This is how a child learns boundaries and how far they can push. The most frequent battle we have right now is standing on things like his rocking chair, (or any chair) the coffee table, mommas bed etc. I wish I could capture the face he gives me, it really is comical. When he gets in the mood to test me he’ll try to stand on something and give that raised eyebrow look. The funny thing is when he stands on something that doesn’t matter. The other day he stood up on his foam puzzle. When it’s all packed up it is about a foot and a half tall. He got up on it, made sure I was looking and gave me that look. My husband was astounded. He was like,” What is that face about?” When I told him he laughed. So my son started going around the room getting on stuff to see what I would correct him about. He would literally go from one thing to the next,stand on it ,if I did not respond he would keep going until he found one that I would. It honestly amazes me and makes me think I may be in for some exciting times in the near future.
At first when he would get on something not allowed, I would pop his little butt and say sit down. He would plop down pretty quick, but in a few more seconds he would be right back up trying it again. I am not the kind of parent who is going to repeat myself over and over for hours. I will give one warning and then there is follow through. But, I decided I would try the chair to see how this worked. I know it is different for every child, but him this has really worked. Today he was petting our dog, and he started pushing his head down real hard. I told him once calmly to be nice to the dog and pet soft. He stopped for a second and then gave me that look and pushed on his head again. It’s tempting to get mad at this point because you can tell they know what you said just by their expressions. What you have to remember is that this is the only way they learn. They don’t know until they make a mistake that it was wrong. They are going to test you, your job is to be consistent.
These are the steps I take when this happens.
1. Give your child a verbal warning. I give one warning. I am a stickler for this because I do not want to have to repeat myself. I really believe children need to learn to listen the first time you say something not the 10th. I believe if I am consistent with this it will make my job easier in the future. Go ahead and start out with 10 and try to shorten it.Then you will have a battle. Even from a young age they can understand. If the routine has always been that way they don’t know anything different.
2. Put the chair facing away from the activities going on. (I put his chair facing the fireplace because it makes him feel isolated) Tell your child what they did wrong and sit them in it.
3.Set your timer for the amount of minutes they are. In other words, he is almost two he gets two minutes. To him that is an eternity because he hates not being on the move.
4. Go about your business. Do not hover and do not talk to him and explain things while he’s in the chair. That completely negates the whole point.
5. After the time is up go over and either stoop to their level or pick them up and explain again what they did wrong. Then kiss them and tell them you love them.
So back to my story about my son pushing my dogs head down. Once he repeated the offense I got his chair,placed it towards the fireplace and sat him in it. I told him,” Mommy told you not to hurt Beaux and you didn’t listen. Sit and mommy will come get you in a few minutes.” Right away once he’s in the chair he starts crying. Do not be a softy. Again it is a health issue for him to learn to be nice to your dog. Not only does he need to learn that other things have feelings, he could potentially cause the dog to get angry. Fortunately I have a wonderful dog, but he is a dog and I will not abuse his generosity. Let me also say, my son knows to sit in the chair. We only had that issue the first time we used this form of discipline. I am not going to be that lady on The Nanny who spent four hours putting her child back in the corner. You won’t either if you start now while your child is young. He must know when you say something you mean it. So I went into the kitchen where I can see him, set my timer, and proceeded to wash dishes. This helps the time go by, but also keeps you busy so you don’t feel sorry for them. Remember why you are doing this. After the time was up, I scooped him up and once again said, ” We are to be nice to the dog.” Then I had him say sorry and kiss Beaux. It’s ok to do this he needs to know animals have feelings too. And it is a good way to practice I’m sorrys. After that he ran off and started playing.
Disciplining a toddler requires consistency most of all, but also love, firmness, and patience. I am still learning and will be for a really long time so I hope to find other forms of discipline as well, but this is one that has worked well so far.