ControverSunday: Discipline

by Ginger on May 17, 2010

in Mom Thoughts

It’s that time once again–ControverSunday! If you’d like to join in (just jump in and join us! It’s what I did), just write something up, grab the badge from Accidents’ and then head over to Perpetua’s place to get linked up. And obviously, we don’t really care if it’s Sunday, or Monday, or heck, even  Saturday–if you’ve got something to say, just join us!

This week’s topic is discipline–if I haven’t already alienated you with some of my recent posts, hopefully this one won’t be the one to push you over the edge!

So yesterday, we had our very first playdate! It was all very exciting–we’ve been looking for more ways to get Jackson around other kids around his age, but we find it hard to meet other parents sometimes, so this was an exciting endeavor for us all. But leading up to the actual meeting, and on the drive over, both N.C. and I expressed a little bit of nervousness about Jackson’s ability to be around this other kid. Because, well, Jackson is rowdy. And boisterous. And he likes to flail, which can lead to being smacked. And he likes to hit when he’s excited. And he’s been known to be grabby. And…well, he’s 8 months old. We were both worried he might hit the other little boy or take his toy or pull his hair and then we’d be labeled THOSE parents.

If you’ve read over here even a little bit, I think you’ll know that I live in constant fear of being THOSE parents. Those parents whose kids run wild. Those parents who are oblivious to the rest of the world. Those parents who let their kids run roughshod over other kids. Those parents who don’t seem aware of whether a place is or isn’t appropriate for children. Those parents who seem to think discipline is mean, not necessary. Those parents. You know the ones.

But frankly, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to be disciplining an 8 month old. Or if I am. I mean, I’m not talking time outs or spankings, because, HELLO, 8 month old. But beyond that, I don’t know what’s expected of me as a parent right now. My current “discipline” is to say “No hitting/biting/pulling hair/pinching” and then trying to either distract him with something else or remove him from the situation. So far it…doesn’t seem to be doing much. My hope is that reinforcing those things when it happens will someday mean Jackson understands what No Hitting means, but for now, it doesn’t do much (and let’s not get started, AGAIN, on no biting, because I’m really at my wits end about that one. But since that only affects mommy, I’m not as worried about that when he’s around other folks right now).

On a playdate, if my kid hits another kid right now, it’s not out of maliciousness or anger or anything really. I think most of the time when he hits it’s more out of a sense of  “HEY lookit what I can do with my arms!” you know? But if my kid hits another kid on a playdate, are their parents thinking that? Or are we being labeled with the THOSE parents label?

When Jackson gets older, we’ll have more options to try–from timeouts to groundings to spankings (briefly, because I know it’s the big controversial thing–I’m not against them, in theory, when done correctly and only if they are effective for your kid. It’s not to be done in anger, it’s not to be done for everyday infractions only big things, and only, ever ever ever, swat to bottom with hand. I say in theory because we’re not there yet obviously and a lot of the things I used to believe went out the window once I actually got there and was in the situation myself so I reserve the right to keep this opinion or to change my mind) to name a few, as Jackson grows and begins to understand more we’ll have more options. But for now, I just don’t know what kind of discipline is expected of me.

In reality, though I do worry about the THOSE parents label, my biggest worry is that we’re not doing something we should that’s groundwork for the future. I believe firmly that discipline is essential for kids. I think that with some kids it’s easy (I apparently was chastised with a simple LOOK about 90% of the time because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents), and with some kids it’s hard (I’ve heard some horror stories about my husband as a child that make me weep should Jackson take after him). I want to be laying the foundation for good and effective discipline down the road, because I think it will help Jackson (and us). I want to make sure we’re setting him up for success and I think discipline can help that.

For the record, Jackson was fine at the playdate. He took a couple of toys, but so did the other kid. Mostly he seemed in awe–his playmate was 14 months old and walking and running and grabbing things and I think Jackson just wanted to be doing what he was doing.

P.S. I’m putting in one more plea for suggestions for my post–Ask the Internet: Travel Edition! I need all the suggestions I can get for traveling with the kiddo. Especially if any of you have suggestions of things to check out in San Francisco!

Now,you should go check out more of the participants of ControverSunday–they’re all smarter than me, and have the posts to prove it!

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Lisa May 17, 2010 at 11:25 am

I can’t say much, cause my kid is still tucked safely inside me at the moment, and I’m sure anything I say will come back to bite me times twenty! I will say I’m with you on the spanking philosophy. I had a friend that spanked during potty training and it was heartbreaking. Her daughter would have an accident, she’d clean her up, put a clean pull up on her, and then smack her leg while saying she had to spank her on the leg so she was sure to feel it. God it killed me to watch that.

Also knew someone that was spanking her kid at Jackson’s age. “Spanking” is probably too tough a term, she would take her daughter’s hand and give her a little pop on the hand. Until she finally realized her daughter was too young to understand why and she was essentially teaching her hitting was OK.

Megan May 17, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I know what you mean about not wanting to be “those parents”. My husband and I are very conscious of that; we try to be respectful about our surroundings, not infringe on the rights and comfort of others, are very careful about what Charlotte does, etc.

But, at the same time, I know that she’s gonna be loud, she’s going to test her boundaries with other kids, and sometimes we’ll have to bring her to non kid-friendly places, and people will just have to suck it because she’s a citizen of the world, too, you know?

That doesn’t mean I take her to bars or fancy restaurants or that I don’t stop her from bullying other kids (which she does, even older ones). It’s tricky. But, I think anytime you put as much thought into it as we all are, it’s bound to work out. 🙂

Partial May 17, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I’m with you on setting boundaries. My husband and I are out all the time and see kids getting away with things our parents NEVER would have let go unchecked.

That being said, and HOORAY for an actual controversy on ControverSunday, I totally disagree with spanking in any form.

Here’s a recent study finding that it merely leads to aggressiveness later on…

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1983895,00.html

Megan May 17, 2010 at 7:35 pm

@Partial- I wrote my ControverSunday post all about spanking. I would LOVE to have you weigh in on the discussion there. It sounds like you’ve done more research on the matter than I, and you could maybe strengthen my case!

Alexis May 18, 2010 at 11:28 am

Oy, this is a question that is so hard to answer! What do you do with little kids who are old enough to have some of their behaviors put in check, but certainly not old enough to logic out the finer points of consequences? I am actually not sure how I escaped the first three years of Cha Cha’s life with no major discipline dramas. Now however, we are the house that “last warnings” and “the take a break chair” built. I think that this is another one of those things where you have to trust your gut and follow your instincts. I know that is so unhelpful, but hey, this is a tough job!

As for the touchy subject of spanking, personally I don’t love the idea and don’t want it to be part of our lifestyle, but I don’t immediately shun (though that is not the right word here) others who do use the technique. Almost everyone I know who has “resorted” to spanking has done so over major safety infraction (ran away in a parking lot, dismantled a wall socket etc.) and that I can get because when it comes to safety, there are no holds barred. I would like to believe that it can be avoided with other techniques, but I guess that is a line that every family must draw for themselves.

I think that at the end of the day consistency in whatever technique you choose is key. Keep it up with the “no hitting” and the redirection…as long as you keep at it, the behavior will change. At least I hope…

carrie meadows May 18, 2010 at 10:49 am

I have an article about spanking that I was required to read in graduate school and have held onto it all these years. It takes a stand against spanking, and just reading it can induce tears. The article cited one case about a father who slapped his daughter in the hand in what he thought was a casual form of discipline. He damaged the nerve tissue in her hand, leaving her permanently disabled. The older our kids kid, the harder it is to keep it together, and I can totally see how a parent resorts to hitting/spanking. I have shut myself alone int he bathroom, with Hayden crying on the other side of the door, because I had to calm down. I highly recommend the following books: Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood and Taming the Spirited Child.

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