17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Disciplining your child: When did you begin?

I have yet to really discipline my child. He is almost 18 months old. By saying that I mean I haven't spanked or used time-out or any other sort of method. I know I have taught him types of discipline since birth (crying himself to sleep sometimes, not having a sippy cup in bed, etc.) but what I'm talking about here is discipline in terms of misbehavior. In the past if he had "misbehaved" I would simply remove him from the situation and say something like, "No T. No biting. Ouch that hurts". I haven't felt the need to discipline T until this morning. Here's what happened.

He was sitting in his high chair and I'm assuming was pretty much done eating his lunch when he began chucking pieces of pasta and peaches across the room. I looked at him and said "No T, we don't throw food. That makes a big mess". He just looked at me straight in the eye and threw even more pasta across the room. I again said no and immediately removed his tray of food. Then he picked up more pasta that had fallen down into the sides of his booster seat and (again looking me straight in the eye) chucked them across the room. He kind of smiled after this, and I suppose he thought maybe this is a fun game. I kept a straight face and again told him no, repeated the reasons why he can't throw food, and took him out of his booster and into the living room. My thought was removing him from the situation. Anyway, he ended up coming back into the kitchen, picked up the food he ALREADY threw on the floor and threw it AGAIN. All the while looking me straight in the eye. A part of me (inside) was giggling, but I knew that I obviously could not laugh at him. I picked up the pasta and we went outside to play.

My question to you is not "what would you have done in this EXACT situation", but more so when did you begin disciplining your children and how? How did you begin disciplining your kids when they were toddlers? Have you read any good books or articles on the subject? Do you go by any "method" (people seem to like SUPERNANNY a lot). I just want to start getting a game plan together, because I know with discipline it is best to be prepared. Any and all input is extremely helpful.


  • I'm not an expert by any means but I would start A.S.A.P. with discipline. The earlier you start, the better. He is old enough to understand basics and sit for 1 minute, even if it is on your lap. Something I have started doing lately has seemed to help. In your situation you would say, "Food is for eating, not throwing." or "Chairs are for sitting on, not jumping." I give my son (2.5) 1 warning and say, if you do it again, you get a time out. Then, when he smiles and does it again, because he will, I sit him on my lap or in a timeout spot and say, "You are in time out because you threw your food. Food is for eating, not throwing." When timeout is done, I ask him why he was in time out. Since he is older he can talk a little more, but he always knows why he was there. Then, I don't keep nagging him about it the rest of the day. He has served his punishment and he doesn't need reminded about it again, unless of course he were to throw the food again. I also really try to praise good things he does through out the day. He loves to hear he that he has made good decisions and is a big boy now. He will do the good thing over and over again. Just an idea for what I have tried of late. Your son will catch on soon enough. Patience, repetition, and consistancy are definitely the key.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/05/2007 05:03:00 PM  

  • Just give him one or two bites of food at a time for a while.

    I try really hard to use positive, respectful discipline. One good website is the Natural Child Project. I like books like "Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline" and "Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles."

    I do sometimes use punishments, for my 3 yo I put him in time out occasionally, and that looks like me sitting with him on the stair, holding him, and talking about what he did wrong and that he's not supposed to do it anymore. For my older son... he gets sent to his room and loses computer time and/or allowance if the infraction warrants it.

    I try really hard to avoid spanking or other physical punishments. I strongly believe these things are wrong. I also try to avoid hurtful yelling/language. Sometimes I do not live up to my goals regarding my kids and discipline but I do apologize to my kids if needed and move on.
    posted by Blogger Vicki at 8/05/2007 05:16:00 PM  

  • We started a time out stool around 15 months I'm guessing (trying to remember). It was tall enough that she couldn't get off, and yet not so tall she'd hurt herself falling on the *carpeted* floor. I would give a warning and then she'd have to sit there for a given amount of time.

    As we've had a second and have worked with multiple ages, I now explain that they made a bad choice and send them to the time out stool. When they are done, they have to say "sorry for..." and the older one has to help 'make it better'.

    We've also discussed how when you make bad choices you then lose choices (you can't run around while in time out, you can't read while in time out, etc). When you make good choices, you then earn the right to make more good choices (would you like to play some more, would you like to go for a walk, would you like to choose a treat, etc) That phrasing has helped us a lot.

    I think nursery age is a great time to introduce consequences, especially if you haven't yet (speaking as a primary president). By this time they are usually quite ready to understand cause and effect, even if they can't always remember from one time to the next.
    posted by Blogger Lucy at 8/05/2007 05:51:00 PM  

  • I have an 11 month old so I'm not really there yet although I've certainly begun to say "no" when cords are pulled at or things are put into the mouth that shouldn't! Anyway, I just wanted to mention that I have a friend who uses a pack 'n play for time-out. If you have enough space in your home, that might be a good option. Then you don't have to have the child no your lap, they can't run around, play with toys, etc. She also uses an egg timer type thing. They knew they are in there until the bell goes off.
    posted by Blogger Linz at 8/05/2007 05:59:00 PM  

  • It is hard to figure out the right time, isn't it? You feel really mean at first, but....

    I am a fan of natural consequences. That means, if you make a mess, you have to clean it up (with help, initially). If you break something, we go without. If you hurt someone's feelings (or body), you have to apologize and they may not want to be with you anymore.

    To me, it makes more sense than "time outs" and you can start it early so the child knows they clean up messes they make. Initially, they like cleaning--use it while you can.
    posted by Blogger a spectator at 8/05/2007 06:24:00 PM  

  • "One Two Three Magic" is a great book. It's a quick easy read. It's main point is basically three strikes you're out. (unless the infraction doesn't deserve a second chance--hitting, etc.) Time-outs are one minute per year of age.

    The keys are 1)don't lecture, kids know what they're doing wrong. (ok, for T's age you'll have to do brief explaining like you have). 2) Keep in NONEMOTIONAL on your end. Don't show anger, etc. Keep your cool.

    I find things go better when I follow those guidelines and when I get upset and emotional and lecture things fall apart. I think it's recommended for ages 2-12.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/05/2007 07:07:00 PM  

  • Also, I agree with a spectator about natural consequences. Those can go in conjunction with time-outs if time-out is your thing. You serve time and then clean up, etc. In the book, the idea of time outs is "if you are going to behave that way, you can't be with us right now." Also to get space between parent and child so tempers don't flare.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/05/2007 07:11:00 PM  

  • I was very fortunate and up until my son was 2 - 2 1/2, had very little "disciplining" to do. I tried to keep him in a child friendly environment that didn't require a lot of correcting (blinds pulled up out of his reach so he couldn't get in them, that sort of thing). When he did find a way to misbehave, a stern "No!" and removing him from a situation, worked wonderfully. Then it didn't anymore. I must admit that I am not a huge fan of time-outs. I think they are often overused and many times the child has no clue what is going on, having already forgotten why they were put there (as in the time I peeked into the Nursery and saw the Nursery leader holding my son into a chair for a time-out). I think children do need to be stopped from doing bad behavior and my son, now 3, is given the choice to stop his behavior or sit in a corner. After a couple of corner sitting sessions, the threat alone is usually good enough (although he throws me curve balls every once in a while by choosing the corner--very weird). And, as bad as it may make me sound to many of you out there, I do not object to the occasional swat on the behind to let him know that what he is currently doing is inappropriate. I feel that sometimes an immediate bad consequence is needed to let the child know that what they are doing is wrong and often the swat is needed to even get my son's attention. I would also point out that every child is different and is going to respond to different forms of discipline differently (sorry about all the differents). While time-outs or corner sitting might work great for one and soft spoken reprimands and explanations for another neither might work for certain children. I think it is a trial and error game that you can try to be prepared for, but also be prepared to change your game plan if one approach doesn't work.
    posted by Anonymous colds1 at 8/05/2007 07:26:00 PM  

  • I am interested in this topic because we are trying to figure out the same thing with our 16mo. We can't find a place other than his crib that he will stay in time out, so we sit him on the chair and count so he can't get off. I'm not sure he gets it yet.
    On a side note - is it so hard to discipline these cute little things without giggling or even smiling? Sometimes my husband or I have to look away - it's terrible!
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 8/06/2007 08:57:00 AM  

  • I started disciplining at 12 months.
    I would put my daughters in time out where I hold them there for 30 seconds to a minute.
    Usually talking to them and removing them from the situation helped.
    They got a warning, then if they did it again the " the nest time you go to time out" warning and then time out anytime they did that action after that.
    It would take about 2-4 timeouts for them to stop playing with the books or whatever they were doing if I wasn't able to move or completely change the situation.
    But pretty soon they knew where the boundaries were and followed them.
    posted by Blogger Lacey at 8/06/2007 09:43:00 AM  

  • Thanks for all the great comments so far. Keep them coming:)

    Anon - I absolutely try to reinforce good behavior. I think that works really well. Thanks for the reminder on that tip.

    Vicki - I really like what you are saying about "positive, respectful discipline". Those books and the website sound very interesting to me. I will definitely be checking them out. And I'm with you on the spanking. I grew up being spanked and I really do not want to spank my kids. And yes, one or two bites at a time for now is also a GREAT idea.

    Linz - that egg timer thing is interesting, especially for little ones who don't understand staying in time-out for "one minute". I think a toddler might really respond to that.

    a spectator - I REALLY LOVE the natural consequences option. I am going to try that with T. When he throws his food he helps me clean it up, etc. It makes so much sense, you are right. Thanks.

    Katie - I will definitely check out that book recommendation, too. And I agree with keeping your cool. Then as the parent you are the one who is in control.

    colds1 - my guy sounds a little like yours... I hardly ever feel the need to discipline. It would be great if I could make it to 2 1/2 feeling that way! I think you are right when you talk about trial & error. I should be prepared to try a few options and see what will work with T, while still remaining strong and in-control of the situation.

    Melissa - I think you're right not to put your DS in time-out in his crib. I'm no expert but I would think it's better not to make his bed the same place that he gets in trouble.

    I think the hardest thing with a toddler is that you don't always know if they are connecting the "punishment" with the previous action (for ex. throwing your food = time-out). I think that is why I'm gonna try the natural consequences thing with T (throwing your food = picking up your food), and see how that works. I'll let you know. I would love to check out the reading suggestions too. Any more are definitely welcome.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/06/2007 09:37:00 PM  

  • The key to discipline with my child has been consistency. She is only 18 months, so we will see what happens in the future, but so far so good. However, if I get tired or lazy and sometimes let her misbehave, because I am too tired to constantly stop her, the behavior becomes normal for her and she knows she can get away with it.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/07/2007 02:23:00 PM  

  • I like to give my 2.5 year-old a warning before putting him "in the corner" (our time out, because there's usually a corner of some sort anywhere we go). After a few times he started understanding and thinking before he acted. Now that he's stronger I usually use the bathroom as our "corner" and hold the door closed. I keep him there until he stops crying or yelling and is ready to apologize. Sometimes at that point I also tag a timed period (like 30 seconds) that he has to be sweet before I let him out. That way he's less likely to start screaming again as soon as the disciplining is done.

    The hardest part for me, especially when he was your child's age, is being diligent. Sometimes you'll just be too tired or "busy" to discipline. DO IT ANYWAY!! It will pay off in the long run.

    When my son was about 18 months or so he cried A LOT in Sacrament Meeting. We were both tired (our Sac. Mtg was last), so I just took him out in the foyer and let him run around and play with the other kids while I chatted with the other moms. Then it finally dawned on me that this wasn't really discipline, just the easy way out. So I decided not to let him have fun in the foyer. The first couple times I took him into a nearby empty classroom or corner until he was ready to go back into the chapel where his sippy cup, books, etc, were waiting for him (I tried to make being in the chapel more appealing than the foyer). He screamed VERY LOUDLY for a long time, and I got a lot of weird looks from the other moms. But each time it got better, and after two or three Sundays he even started sitting through Sacrament Meeting (with occassional exceptions, of course). I'm so glad I stuck with it, even though it was difficult. I didn't realize it would work so well and so soon, otherwise I would have tried it much sooner!

    Here's my last piece of advice (and maybe this is a given): Don't give threats/warnings/punishments you won't follow through with! Otherwise you won't be making any progress, you'll just be going backwards.
    posted by Anonymous Brittany at 8/09/2007 04:25:00 PM  

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