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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Toddler Discipline

Before we had Norah, I would sometimes spot parents with their screaming demon-child in the mall or grocery store or maybe at a restaurant, and think to myself in exasperation, "Goodness, can't they DO something about that? Sheesh!" Somehow, in witnessing those poor people's embarrassment or frustration, I always thought (foolishly, of course) that that would never be me when we had kids.

Thankfully, Norah has yet to have a public meltdown; in fact, in public and at school, she's like Miss America -- always smiling and waving and saying "hi" to people.

But at home?

There are times, and even whole days, where her inner-goblin seems to get the best of her and she's nuthin but naughty. Scooter is most often her victim of toddler-terrorism; she hits him, pulls his ears, pokes him, pinches him, she was even caught once sitting on him. But, he's not the only one who can fall with in her long shadow: Jerry and I have both had our share of bites, hits, and pinches.

Along with her mean-streak, she can suffer from the typical sort of tantrums that toddlers are famous for: if she is denied something she wants, or if she is forced to adhere to rules we have, she breaks down into the expected behavior that many toddlers exhibit at this stage: tears, dramatically throwing herself to the floor, and resistant "no"s.

So, our methods of handling this behavior so far?
  • Diversion. She, like most kids her age, has an attention span that lasts about 30 seconds, so diverting her attention away from whatever caused the meltdown, has some margin of immediate success.
  • Ignoring. Especially when it's something minor at home where she's throwing herself to the floor and acting pitiful.
  • Being firm and consistent with our "no." "No" to pulling Scooter's tail always means "no" to pulling his tail.
  • Giving her a task. Asking her to help with something has a marvelous effect. She likes "helping" with all kinds of small tasks -- unloading the dishwasher, putting things away, making the bed, etc.

But, aside from these methods, I'm kinda stumped about effective methods of discipline that are appropriate for a 17 month old. I don't know if she's old enough to understand a "time out" yet, and we've tentatively decided that we're not really the spanking type. Aside from shackling her inside a closet, I'm not certain if there are better ways to correct her when her behavior is unacceptable.

So, I turn to you guys, oh wise ones. Should we be whipping her with wet noodles or what?

23 comments:

Jamoosh said...

All you need is a wall and duct tape. you can figure out the rest.

James said...

taking away a favorite toy/doll/blanket worked for us. Also a long silent stare until they stop sometimes works. We rarely have resorted to a spanking. What every you do, do not give in if she doesn't stop early on. If it comes to who can hold out the longest, your best bet is to outlast her. If not then she'll learn she can get what she wants if she does something long enough. Good luck with her!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Jamoosh - I used the dust tape and a table top on my oldest once, he has never let me forget it! (It didn't hurt him at all)

Jess ~ sounds like you are doing all the right things. As long as you keep doing the same things, she'll figure out that rules are rules and mommy and daddy make them!

Oz Runner said...

welcome to parenthood...some of how you discipline can depend on the personality of the child...what works with one of my boys doesn't always work with the other...you'll figure it out ( ;

Ryan said...

Spanking has never worked for us during tantrums. I have resorted to getting the video camera out now, taping the tantrum, and then once he settles down, I show him how ridiculous it looks. After a few times of this, he immediatly stops the tantrum becuase he wants to see himself on the camera. Whatever. It gets him to shutup.

Alison said...

Our kids are two weeks apart, so I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who’s dealing with this issue! Liam doesn’t hit, bite or pinch yet but the meltdowns…OMG the meltdowns. Especially when we won’t let him have something he wants or when we won’t do something he wants us to do, like pull him around the house on his blanket for the 400th time.

Diversion is the best tactic right now, but something unexpected that also works is imitating him. If he’s whining and stomping his feet, I start whining and stomping – and about 50% of the time he’ll start laughing at me and the tantrum is over.

Lily on the Road said...

Well, I'll let the parents in the group handle this one.

When I was a kid I remember once in a play fight biting someone...their parents made them bite me back at a later date in front of everyone! ahhh the crazy '60's.....

Anonymous said...

Hitting and biting were behaviors I was NOT willing to tolerate whatsoever. The first time my daughter ever hit me I put on a show like she stabbed me through the chest with a butcher knife. "Oh!!!!! OW!!!!" Complete with backing away holding the area that was hit, crying, etc. It upset her so much to see me that hurt she never did it again.

She only had a few tantrums and for those I completely ignored her. Once she threw a tantrum about having to get dressed. I calmly told her to either get dressed or she'd be going to the store in her diaper (she was about 2). She refused so off to the store we went in just her diaper. She was so upset she never refused to get dressed again.

My kids have always knows I mean what I say and consequences are swift. We don't spank or do time outs.

Beret

Krissy said...

We do the same methods you guys are doing and just keeping consistent with those is key right now from what I read and hear from others with little ones! Keep up the good work, we have tried a time out with Eli but it hasn't worked yet, I think once they reach 2 they understand time outs more from what I hear.

I too thank god Eli hasn't melted down terribly in public often. Actually, only 1 time, he totally expired in the checkout lane at the grocery store. I told the people in line behind me to "please excuse my child in advance" hahaha.... I could totally see it coming and the checkout was insane in every lane, there was some sort of system problem with the registers, just a total mess! It was about 5 mins. of craziness but that was the only time I had to deal with it in public ever.

Nobel4Lit said...

No experience of my own yet, but I learned via yelling/spanking, and now am afraid to do ANYTHING questionable.

All joking(?) aside, I think you're doing the right stuff. I'm training our puppy right now, and I often ignore the heck out of his bad behaviors, made loud noises ( like Beret's comment above), but I never hit. Obviously, it's not the same, but I'm sure SOME of these lessons I'm learning right now can carry over...

GeorgiaSnail said...

It's that time of year...task her with doing the taxes, that'll keep her busy.

Wait, on second thought, that will only encourage another meltdown.

Viper said...

Hrm, I didn't see anything about a gag. I'm guessing it was an error of omission.

Lisa said...

i'm going to echo the comment about taping an outburst...but hold that thought until she's older.

timeouts and taking thing away worked best for us when they were little. and stay calm. if you escalate the energy, it will get worse.

good luck!

Adam said...

The great thing is that ignoring me when I am having a tantrum hasn't worked - yet

Yeah, no idea on what to do. What about caffeine? Kids like that, right?

Christine said...

Congrats on Caleb!! (I know I'm super late with this) So glad everything is still going well for you..and I have no advice on the toddler discipline..havent gotten that far yet. I love the BOB by the way..are you getting the double Bob?

Nikki said...

Oh my gosh, toddler discipline is going to be the death of me! We're doing the same things but some days it`s like nothing will work! Thankfully no public meltdowns yet, but I`m sure my little stinker will give it a try one of these days!

Agate Lake Girl said...

Yeah, there's not much you can do at this age other than what you mentioned. I did introduce the naughty spot with Rylee around this age so she would be familiar with it for later. It works really good now. So does the 1-2-3 rule. I say "1" and she corrects the behavior. I feel like Tina Fey in "Date Night" - "it works every time!" :)

daysrun said...

I don't have kids, but I do work where I have to deal with them. I work part-time at the mall - retail sales. And I've found having a sales person talk to them seems to stun them into a "mommy a stranger is talking to me" stupor. Course it could just be my voice and pleading "make it stop" look.

Jess said...

As I'm not a parent, I've got nothing, but it seems like the things you have been doing are pretty good ideas!

N.D. said...

haha I felt the same when i saw others. Now it is me! sounds like you are doing everything you can. I think we started time out near 20 months - time out of our time basically. Wed put him in another rm and walk away. now by 23 mos time out in in a chair in the corner or he goes in his room. it seesms to be effective.

Stuart said...

I am often tempted by water boarding and solitary confinement but I think that only works for boys!

Anonymous said...

I had good luck with "The Happiest Toddler on the block" video that I got through Netflix.

lifestudent said...

I had my first public tantrum recently and Brooke is 28 months. She didnt want to leave school and had a public meltdown in the parking lot as I tried to strap her into her carseat.

I still use distraction. A lot of ignoring. We try talking to her about being a "good girl", which does seem to motivate her. And we have been talking a lot about her little brother and how we need her help with him, or she needs to set an example for him, etc.