Thursday, June 4, 2009

Time out

My sweet little girl is a stubborn little thing. She's going to give us a run for our money during the teenage years, I fear!

The word "NO" has very little meaning some days. She slaps her hand and says "no, no" but doesn't obey. Redirection works sometimes, but not as much as I wish it did! When she throws a fit over something trivial, it normally works to ignore her until she stops -- which is usually quickly if she's not getting any attention!

Basically, I've been realizing over the past six months or so, that it's VERY hard to discipline a one-year-old, because you aren't truly sure how much is getting through to them. Now at eighteen months, I feel like we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel on this one. Not that I expect discipline to ever be "easy," but it's just so darn confusing and frustrating (for her AND me!) when they're at this young age, have a limited vocabulary to express what they want, and you're not sure how much of what you say that they understand.

I have sporadically tried doing "time outs" with her in the past few months, but they never worked because she didn't understand the concept of sitting until Mommy comes to get you. It was just a lot of tears and screaming and looks of utter confusion, while I sat with her, putting her back in her spot over and over and over again. Not effective!

I'm not the type of parent that gets on my child for every little thing. I fully believe in the importance of showing lenience where you can. BUT, I'm also not going to be a pushover. She has got to learn that Mom and Dad are in control, and that she HAS to obey!

Disobedience is our main issue currently. (Isn't it the main issue for all parents?) She might say "no" to herself, but keep right on doing the exact activity we tell her not to do.

So the trick becomes... what is an effective discipline for my child? What can help her best learn to obey?

Out of desperation yesterday, I tried the time out again. By all means, I have no plans of replacing spanking with time outs, but spanking should not be the "first stop" on the road of discipline (unless it were a truly dangerous situation, like running into the street, which I could understand might require an immediate spanking). But what about all the little infractions that happen throughout the day? I'm certainly not going to spank her for each one of those things, but she isn't responding to other things I've tried.

So, when my darling daughter was playing with the trash can for the third time in ninety seconds, after having been told "NO," taking away from that "activity," and redirected twice before, we tried the time out again.

And it WORKED!!

I calmly walked her over to "the spot," sat her hiney down, and went back to finish what I was doing. I didn't have to say a word to her. She knew! She cried the whole time (which, I'm never happy about, but at least I know she understands this isn't supposed to be fun), and after one minute had passed, I went back to get her. I helped her stand up, gave her a hug, and explained to her (as best you can explain to a one-year-old) that Mommy said "no" to playing with the trash can and that she needs to obey.

She stopped crying as soon as I helped her up, and what's more, she obeyed! She stopped playing with the trash can. Hooray for small victories!

She wasn't up for half an hour this morning before we got another "opportunity" to try this trick out again. She threw her milk cup from her tray when she was done eating breakfast. I have been trying to teach her to hand it to me when she's done, but she looks right at me and throws it instead! She's got quite the attitude already!

After throwing the cup the first time, I handed it back to her and asked her to give her cup to Mommy instead. NOPE! She smiled and tossed it over the side away from me. STINKER!!

I gave her a repeat performance of yesterday... calmly took off her high chair tray, picked her up, and sat her down in "the spot." Tears immediately. I went back into the kitchen to clean up (around the corner from where she was) and watched the clock. Why does one minute seem SO LONG?!

Same deal as before. I went back to get her, gave her a hug and told her I loved her, and told her that she needs to obey and not throw her cup. Then I walked her over to where her cup was still on the floor and asked her to pick it up and hand it to me. She giggled a bit (maybe this part seemed like a game?), but complied.

It's just nice to finally have something that works... for now, anyway!

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