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Thursday, 18 April 2013 08:05

How Do You Discipline a Toddler?

I certainly don't have this parenting thing figured out.

If I had to prioritize my goals for my kids, the most important thing I hope they leave my house with is the ability to do things for themselves. Please don't get me wrong, I hope they love themselves and know how loved they are by others, I hope they get along with other people, are kind hearted and confident, have a great sense of humour and do well in school, etc., etc., etc.

More than anything, however, my parenting goals - at this point in time - stem from the root goal that by the time they turn about 18, Brian and I could die suddenly and they would be absolutely capable of continuing on without us. Meaning that at about 18, they no longer need to live in our house, eat our food, or take our money. Again, don't misinterpret me here - I would love to be able to help them out, but if helping them out means that I am somehow holding them back from learning how to be independent, then allowing them to live in our house, eat our food, or take our money is no longer helpful. 

In my story, both of my birth parents were no longer available to help me out with life by the time I was 28 years old. Many people are left with no parents much younger than I was - there are no guarantees. I was blessed to have a 'step' mother who I have always referred to as Mom, and is as much of a parent to me as anyone ever has been, but again - not everyone has this. So, for me, self-sufficiency is key.

What does this have to do with disciplining toddlers? 

Basically, I'm explaining my overall parenting worldview so that you know where I'm coming from. 

My parenting worldview is also that parenting involves baby steps to bringing our children into adulthood. I don't really understand parenting methods that do one thing, and then suddenly switch over to allowing something else. Not to criticize 'attachment' methods - because obviously we all do what makes the most sense to us - but it doesn't make any sense to me to ensure an infant's sole dependence on its mother, only to expect that child to be independent and self-sufficient later on. I know it works sometimes - I've seen it work - but it doesn't make any sense to me. I can't see how a child who desperately NEEDS his/her mother constantly until the age of four will suddenly be able to leave their mother confidently without some kind of difficult transition in the meantime. So, I try to always look ahead to what my long-term goal is for my child and try to make baby steps toward that goal now.

For example - I would like my daughters to be disciplined and able to follow directions and listen to authority figures when they are school-aged. A logical step toward this would be to teach my daughter to listen to ME and follow MY directions. 

What terrifies me about where we are right now is that my daughter is doing just about everything that I hope she doesn't do when she is older.

She ignores me when I ask her questions or give her directions. This stresses me out, because I witnessed a friend yell 'Stop!' to her child one day as he was running around on a sidewalk near a parking lot. He was nearing the edge of the walkway and for safety reasons she didn't want him to go any further. He stopped instantly and came back to her. It was like magic. I tried that on Clara one day and let's just say that if there had been a car coming, it would not have been pretty. 

She talks back frequently, trying to control what everyone around her does. For example, when Brian and I are talking (pretty much every time) she will angrily yell 'Don't Talk!'. Our obviously ineffective way of handling this is to calmy say 'No, Clara, that's not nice. Mommy and Daddy like to talk'. Like she cares.

If I tell her not to touch something, or to leave something alone, she will convulsively and spastically touch and slap the very thing I just asked her to leave alone. 

When she is trying to do something 'By self' and she struggles for about six seconds, it becomes a panic of epic proportions when she can't do it immediately. She will yell 'You do it!' at us, as she throws the toy/shoe/piece of clothing across the floor. Besides laughing at her melodrama, I have no idea what to do with that.

Besides praying every morning that God would help me to be the Mom that she needs me to be, I'm a bit at a loss about how to handle her. There's no doubt that I would like her to be able to manage these behaviors - for her sake, as well as for my sanity - I just have very little clue how to do this. 

Is her behavior just normal for her age, and as long as I'm patient it will go away with time, or does the fact that she already does these things mean that I have dropped the ball somewhere? 

I have a nice little fantasy about the kind of children I want my girls to be... unfortunately it doesn't include the kind of parent I need to be to make that happen... 

Read 2298 times Last modified on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 14:29

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