Monday, March 28, 2011

Clueless in Virginia. {Sharing discipling dos and don'ts.}

Last night, after putting Avery to sleep, Emma Kate and I were downstairs playing. I went to do the dishes and EK was left to play on her own. It was suspiciously quiet, so I went looking for her. I found her in the place I least wanted to find her (other than a police station), in her sister's crib. She had let herself in, pulled down all of the dresses framed on her wall (along with the frames), climbed in Avery's crib and was undressing her to put on one of the beautiful dresses. Clearly a better outfit for "pwincess" dreaming.

I just about lost my mind. I was so mad. EK got sent right to bed and I cleaned up the mess, nursed Avery back to sleep, and went back downstairs, fuming.

Fast forward to this morning, it's Avery's nap time and she's resting peacefully in her crib. EK and I are downstairs, playing. I go to get some other things taken care of, leaving her by herself. That same quietness came upon the first floor of our house. I immediately dreaded what was about to happen. I began looking for EK and found her, again, in her sister's crib.

This time I did lose my mind. There was plenty of yelling, and even a little, LITTLE swat on the fanny (the only other time this has happened is when she colored all over the wall in her bedroom). Off she went, to sit in her room and cry while I went downstairs to fume.

After her timeout was over, I called her downstairs, gave her a hug, and we talked about what had happened. She then went to play in her playroom while I cleaned up the kitchen. It got quiet again, so I called her name and began to look for her.

This time I found her, not in her sister's crib, but hiding in the corner, quiet as a mouse. I asked her what she was doing and she said, "hidin'." So I asked her what she was hiding from. Her response,

"Mommy is going to yell at me. It makes me sad."

Talk about a major gut check. I struggled to fight back the tears as I realized my two-year old little girl was scared of me. I'm supposed to be the person she runs to when she's scared, not the person she hides from.

So I'm at a loss. I have no clue how to discipline this child. Timeout doesn't really work anymore, at least not for the big offenses (like sneaking into her sister's room and coloring on the walls), I don't want to spank her, and I hate yelling at her. I've said this a lot, but I want to be the type of mother the General Authorities talk about during General Conference. The mother that "rules in righteousness" and never raises her voice.

But how?

How on earth did those mothers discipline their toddlers?

Now I don't know how this fits in here on this blog, but this is the biggest thing on my mind, as I'm sure is on many of other mothers' minds. I figured I would ask the question here and open up the comments section as a sounding board for everyone to share their experiences with this... the good, the bad, and the ugly.

What methods of discipline and positive reinforcement work in your house?

If you don't have children yet, what methods did your mother use when you were growing up?


  1. I'm no help here. But I just wanted to say I'm sorry you are dealing with this! I'm sure you'll figure something out in no time.

    My mom always sent us to the bathroom for time out. She said our rooms were fun, so we would have to sit on the toilet for time out. Damian was always too hyper for time out, so she would have to sit there and hold him in the bathroom for time out.

    As an aside, do you have a baby gate on the stairs that could keep her from heading to Avery's room?

  2. I got sent to timeout a lot! My mom would put on the timer, and apparently with that threat alone I would shape up. As I got older (and faster) my mom would throw flip flops at me. That being said, my mom and I have a great relationship... :)

  3. I'm not much help either, though I'm sure we're in for it in a couple of years too. My only thoughts are these: a) I think sometimes timeouts are for parents, not for kids. So if it helps you to get yourself together and think (and pray) about what to do next, keep using it! do whatever you need to do to keep yourself sane. and b) I think the idea behind timeout is to deny privileges, so I sort of like Meg's idea--maybe sending her to her room is not always the best idea, because it's her space. Timeouts, I think, are supposed to deny privileges and remove any sense of fun. Maybe changing it up will help reinforce the gravity of the offense?

    I'm sorry this is happening, but I just wanted to say that I think that trying to be better, to constantly reevaluate, and to do what the Lord wants you to do is exactly what you're supposed to be doing. Nobody expects you to be perfect--you are new at this part of parenting!--but you are TRYING, and that's the hallmark of a good parent. You want to do what is right, and that means that you will.

  4. My friend recently posted this on her blog and although it has to do with church behavior I think you can apply it to general naughty behavior:

    I remember my parents reward system. Whoever was the nicest kid got to go out with mom and eat ice cream. Man, what is it about ice cream!

  5. I have two girls 22 months apart and my oldest was always wanting to hop in the crib with her sister, or go in there and wake her up. I reacted in the exact way you did, and my Kaylan reacted the same way Emma Kate did. Lots of tears and hurt feelings, making me feel awful.

    I tried to let Kaylan help out with the baby as much as possible (baths, diaper changes, putting her to bed, anything...) and praise her during the process and thank her for her help, and remind her she was such a big girl. Then, if she was a good helper, I would reward her with something fun for just she and I during her sisters nap. She eventually learned to look forward to nap time for baby, because that meant fun for her and Mommy. It was hard for me to leave the laundry, dishes, and cleaning alone while the baby slept, but Kaylan needed that time, and it worked out great for us. Eventually things settled down and Kaylan would entertain herself during naps so I could get a few things done.

    Good luck! It's hard to be patient and some days I put myself in time out and let my girls trash the place.

  6. Dear Clueless, I have probably told you this before but the only thing that works for us is holding during timeout, my kids hate not being able to move and do what they want. Timeout in a bedroom, or even on the couch, where she is free to wiggle, just doesn't get the point across. EK is still young, probably nothing is going to get the point across right away, just be patient...and persistent. Anyway, you know how my kids behave so take it for what it's worth.

  7. Ok first question why is she going in to the room and climbing in to the bed. To play with her?

    Perhaps you can get her more involved in some of the cares of her sister and explain the differences. Putting aays clothes, changing diapers etc.
    Explain whay she can not climb in the bed with her sister. Which I am sure you have done.

    Figure out some sort of activity to occupy her time when you put the baby down so she will not get bored and go in to the babies room.

    There are covers that go over the door handle that prevent children from being able to turn the knob. If you close the babies room this may be the best option.

    Put her down for a nap at the same time as her sister.

    rewards work better than punishment.

    so charts with stars for accomplishments.
    give her things to do while her sister is sleeping. If you are cleaning find some thing she can help you do dust a table, give her a toy vacumn, sort forks and spoons.

    Stars for keeping quiet while her sister is sleeping, make up stars for what ever you need. The reward is at the end of the day. Young children do not have a long attention span, so the reward has to be immediate. figure out what is important to her.

    Mom and EK watching a movie together
    pudding snack
    reading a book with her

    Remember they are only small for a really short time.


  8. I'm no expert, but here are some of my thoughts, take them for what you will:)

    I think the first thing that's so important with discipline is to ask WHY? Why is the child doing x behavior. Then tailor your punishments and rewards to help manage the behavior. I think what's been said about EK maybe wanting/needing some Mommy time during Avery's naps is probably spot on.

    The second thing is that timeouts should be in a place she doesn't like to be. My mom put us in the bathtub for timeouts. Sounds nuts, but it worked! Nothing to do, cold, hard, quiet, etc.

    And, I personally would be careful of using foods as rewards/punishments on a regular basis. Just because I think we might be teaching some not so healthy relationships with food. Plus, with toddlers, the discipline needs to be immediate to get the point across. Taking dessert away at the end of the day just isn't going to connect with the poor behavior earlier in the day, not with a 2 yr old anyway.

    I hope you come up with a solution that works for your family! I know you will. Good luck!:)