Monday, May 9, 2011

Herrington Toddler Discipline Philosophy: Revisited

I decided it was time to revisit the subject of discipline on my blog. You can read my previous thoughts on it here and here.

Here is the deal: We are trying to stay away from spanking. I mentioned that Peyton thought her starting to hit could be related to increased spankings. Now, I KNOW that we could teach her that "Momma and Papa can spank, but you can't until you're a momma", but the truth is we had envisioned spanking to be a short term solution anyway. We knew once she was old enough to understand the concept of "time out", we would use that in lieu of spanking her. I know not everyone agrees with that and if you want to tell me your reasons for not in the comments, I'll publish and I'll listen. Anyway, at this point, I think she's beginning to understand. The one exception, we decided, was that we would still spank her if a situation was dangerous and called for immediate attention (e.g. running away from us in a parking lot).

Lately, discipline has been really hard for me because aside from her weight gain issue this is the first time I'd had any trouble with her. As I said, I feel like she has such a delicate spirit. I know that sounds like a cop out and I wouldn't say she's "hyper sensitive", but I would say she is a fragile child, as was I. I know that because of this we have been guilty of babying her too much.

I really NEVER thought I would be that parent. With student teaching, lifegaurding, ect. I was VERY strict.....because I had to be. Especially with lifegaurding, where half the kids were bigger than me, I knew I wouldn't have their respect if I wasn't really stern. The other guards used to joke that I had "little girl syndrome". I just knew I would be a super strict parent. And then we had Annie. I feel like we do an okay job, but sometimes I think we do treat her too much like a baby because of her little nature (which is sort of babyish) and it really doesn't do anyone any favors.

I have a couple of friends who are really good at talking to their toddlers as they would a much older child and I feel like both girls are much more verbal than Ann Peyton (one is about six months older, but one is four months younger). [I know comparing her to our friend's children is not a great habit, but it's not something I feel like I do often.] Anyway, we always said we wouldn't talk "down" to her and although we have our own little language (diapee for diaper, ect.), we've really never primarily used baby talk in speaking to her. We haven't really been good about talking "up" to her, either and speaking to her in terms we thought she might or might not be capable of comprehending. I think we've underestimated her in that way. That's something I want to work on.

There are a few other things I want to work on, too:

1. My Tone- Annie is SO much more receptive when Peyton disciplines her. I think this is partly because I'm the one doing it all day long and because children just have a different relationship, in most cases, with their mothers. But I also think I am not using a stern enough tone in my voice.

2. My Priorities and My Consistency- I think too often I fail at "choosing my battles". She was eating Cheerios of the floor at the doctor's office the other day and I really scolded her for it and then I thought about my friend who appears to be (to me) a lot stricter than I do but whom I've seen basically "let it go" when her child put something of the floor in her mouth. Because she knows how to pick her fights. I think Peyton and I need to figure out what rules are important to us and really enforce those and not expect her to just automatically confirm to adult norms. Once we decide on them, I want us to be super consistent. I certainty don't know everything there is to know about this, but I think INTENTIONALITY and CONSISTENCY are maybe the most important concepts across the board.

3. Which brings me to....My Confidence. I need to own the parenting decisions that Peyton and I make and realize that no matter what anyone else may think or say, we are doing what is, to the best of our knowledge, what is best for our children and our family. It's hard for me not to worry about certain friends thinking they are better disciplinarians than we are and it's equally hard feeling like others think that maybe we're too firm and requiring too much out of her. In the end, I have to remember what one of my friends who I confided in about this said (in essence)- God entrusted these children to me and Peyton and we are doing our best to raise her to know and love Him and it is no one else's place to judge us. By the way, it was the same unnamed friend who encouraged me to buy that fish outfit for Graves that looks HORRID on him. Guess she made up for it ;)

So, that is my update. One thing I know I can be sure of is that this is going to be a never ending journey (or seem like it) for the next twenty years at least, I'd imagine. So, I'm sure I'll be "revisiting" it quite often. I'm thankful for y'all for listening and offering encouragement as I learn. And I'm thankful for Annie, not only being my "practice case" (as first children always are), but also for, in a way, being my teacher, as well.

Also, I'd love any advice you mommas (or teachers, or children's ministers, or nannies, or just friends with common sense and some previous interaction with one or more toddlers) have. After Jennifer left a comment on my blog the other day recommending a book, I decided I'd poll Twitter/Facebook and see what else everyone would recommend in the realm of toddler discipline. I got some good suggestions I think, but I'd love to hear y'alls ideas (books, websites, tips, ect.), as well. I'll pretty much at least look into anything reasonably moderate (i.e. not too authoritarian or too permissive). Thanks, friends!


Anonymous said...

No advice, just encouragement. I think it's wonderful how intentional you are being in your approach to discipline. You obviously have AP's best interest at heart and 'listening' to you thoughtfully consider her heart and your goals and strengths/weaknesses is awesome. You have YOUR heart in the right place and I'm confident that will make you successful.

A website you may like - Great discipline articles and a very supportive and informative forum.

Ashley said...

I agree--just like everything else with parenting, you settle into a good system at times and then other times it needs to be revisited. I think finding the balance between being consistent but not over-analytical is important. I love "Dare to Discipline" by Dobson. He uses common-sense, age-old methods for discipline, and advocates using grace all at the same time. I find him to be a breath of fresh air!

Courtney said...

It sounds like you are doing a great job. I think consistency is the most important thing with children. They need to know that everytime the do a certain behavior they are going to get the same action from you. Eventually they will stop trying. The students in my class know there are certain rules that I hold steadfast too and that if they break it they will always have the same consequence.

The Niemeyer Nest said...

I think you got it. You have to trust yourself that you are doing what is right for your family. Evie still has a pacifier - not what I planned and most people think we are crazy but it works for us. I compare myself to other moms all the time but know our circumstances are all so different. Hang in there - you are still in a major adjustment period. I am so impressed with everything you are getting done.

Tara G. said...

Withhold Not Correction by Bruce Ray is a wondeful book worth reading and considering. Teach them Diligently is a great selection by Lou Priolo, but I would reccomend reading his The Heart of Anger first- just the first 2-3 chapters would be sufficient. John MacArthur's Successful Christian Parenting has great things to say. Lisa Welchel's book is stuffed full of ideas, and any reader is sure to find one or two things they can pull to use; her foundational philosophy is right on, too. You're the best parents these little ones will ever have! :)