As a parent I’ve grown accustomed to having people trying to tell me how to discipline my children. It’s nearly impossible to really discipline a baby though, as they tend to forget what they did that got them into trouble seconds after they get in trouble. The glorious thing about a baby though is they can have their attention diverted easily to more appropriate things like noisy toys or oddly shaped blocks that will fascinate their ever growing mind. The most common tactic when a baby gets into something it shouldn’t like knick knacks on a coffee table is diversion or a faint tap on their hand then diversion with the hopes of instilling some kind of knowledge in the child that they’re not supposed to be doing whatever got them in trouble. Then there are those magnificent things called play pens, mobile baby bed like things that keep baby safe from getting in trouble but can be a wonderful spot for a nap!
As our children get older though, diversion works less and less often. Punishment gets turned into warnings, counting to a certain number as a warning while using a commanding but not loud voice. Trouble gets met by a series of different tactics, at times exhausting the parent(s) to the point they get purple in the face from the fact that the child isn’t soaking in the fact that they’re not supposed to be doing whatever it is they did to get in trouble in the first place. You try to compromise, hoping that this will satiate the child. In my experience, there are only so many steps you can go through before it becomes a yelling match between you and the child(ren). The absolute worst part, for me at least, has to be when they get in trouble and you try to formulate a punishment worthy, meanwhile they’re doing their best to look both adorable and appropriately shamed for their bad behavior.
Being a mother of two toddlers, only a year, a month, and tend days between them, most of the battles we have are concerning the way they treat their sibling. It can be a nightmare when one wants what the other has and tries the old “bait and switch” by giving one toy while snatching up the intended toy with the hopes that interest has been lost in it by its previous owner. There is also the never ending war waging on about being in the kitchen when neither of them needs to be in there, like when mommy is trying to cook something that splatters. I’ve tried the blocking off of the kitchen approach but it was less than effective. One of the most exasperating has to be when they get into something they’re not supposed to, like climbing up on mommy or daddy’s computer desk.
In our household, there is a stage of commands that must be followed through with prior to any actual physical punishments. Stage one is the deep toned warning, “Celeste/Marie, stop that.” in a tone commonly referred to as The Mom Voice. When that is less than effective, the utilization of the mom voice to count to 3 is then chosen. In some instances, repeated use of the mom voice by saying the childs name is used, depending on the severity of whatever the child is doing that they should know they’re not supposed to be doing. This is usually followed by “The Look”, which means mommy means business. If they still don’t listen, the threat of losing something they want, for them it would be educational tv time with SuperWhy, Wally Kazam, or Sofia The First.
Often enough, I find that I’m still having to get onto their case about whatever they’re doing so physically removing them from the room/object of their attention is the next step, which if that doesn’t work is followed with a tap on the hand and the threat of standing in the corner or in front of the door with their hands behind their backs. After time out, I lecture them on why they’re not supposed to be doing whatever it is they keep on doing. Sadly, my children really enjoy pushing their boundaries and usually end up still doing whatever it was they weren’t supposed to be doing. This is normally when I start to lose my cool, because every avenue that I have available to me without being called a bad parent has been utilized. You see, with everyone being such busy-bodies and sticking their noses where they don’t belong, parents aren’t allowed to effectively parent anymore.
You spank your child(ren)? You’d better not let anyone see or do it at a supermarket, or they’ll call the cops on you for child abuse and emotional / physical abuse to your child. At wits end and losing your mind so you end up yelling? You had better hope you keep your voice low enough your neighbors can’t hear, because there will be a full scale Child Protective Services investigation, and quickly! Worst of all is the solo time out in the bedroom. Goodness knows you can’t do that anymore, if anyone at school finds out then you’re in a load of trouble! According to child studies, it results in isolated attitudes, depression, feelings of unwantedness, and can lead to self harm.
Yet people wonder why kids these days are self-entitled whiny snot nosed brats. I was spanked, I grew up being sent to my room alone to reflect on my bad behavior, many current adults had to pick their own switch for crying out loud and if you don’t know what that is then you’re too young to understand. Punishment of children should be at the parent’s discretion, not the schools, not the neighborhoods, and certainly not the governments. Until you start forking over the money for damages caused by your neighborhood children, keep your nose out.