Parenting 2.0

Posts Tagged ‘discipline

Her face was hardened. Deep crevices lined the canvas of her skin, illustrating all the scowls she’d doled out over time. Yes, she’d probably enjoyed a few laughs too, but judging (yes, I was judging!) by her behaviour yesterday morning, I think her life had been filled with more upset than happiness. I just couldn’t believe the way she was talking to the (I’m guessing) 18 month old that she was pushing around in the stroller. That’s pushing around, both literally and metaphorically.

“That’s it! Yer not gettin’ anything with that sort of behaviour! NO! That’s it! NO! Yer terrible the way yer behavin’!”, she drilled at the little pajama-clad guy who was taking it all in, while quietly sucking on his soother.

I may not even have noticed what she was saying, if it hadn’t been for the decibels to which her voice reached.

Now, I have a two year old son, who’s not much older than the little guy in her care. 18 months old wasn’t so long ago for me. I clearly remember what an 18 month old is like – they’re more interactive, more independent, more everything than the version of their baby-selves that has now ceased to exist. But the way this woman was talking to her son? Grandson? (It was hard to tell.) It was like he was 5 years old. Like he could understand the cause and affect of his behaviour. Like he could reason. And she just kept berating him. I wish I could remember the exact words she was using, because they really resonated with me. Disturbed me. And I know I’m not doing her nastiness justice here.

I’m not saying I don’t get frustrated with parenthood. It’s certainly not easy and I’m no expert. Like most parents I’m just trying my best. But was this this woman’s best? I just couldn’t help but wonder: if this is how she talks to the little guy in public, what goes on at home, when no one is watching?

It really just broke my heart. I wanted to take him home with me or something.

Maybe she was having a bad day (but it was only 10 in the morning), life. I don’t know. But it doesn’t excuse talking to the child in your care like that. But what could I do? Was it my place to step in? I don’t think so. Not unless the end result would be me rescuing the child and bringing him home with me, but I think in the eyes of the law that’s kidnapping and I’d probably be put in jail. So, here I am a day later still thinking about that woman’s face and the way she barked at that little boy. And wondering why?

Eventually the time will come when disciplining your little darling is necessary. It teaches him/her about limitations and the difference between right and wrong. I don’t think good behaviour is necessarily inherent: it needs to be taught. But when is the right time to start? Is six months too young? In my opinion, no. I guess it just depends on what type of discipline is used. For example, at this stage in the game grounding him might be a little over the top. You may be wondering what reason there could possibly be to discipline a six month old? But maybe discipline is too harsh a word: perhaps redirecting fits the bill better.

Here’s the situation: Niko has taken to chewing his bib, A LOT. Picture waterfalls of food onto the floor, onto his clothes, etc. – not a pretty site. At first I was just telling him in a sweet voice, “Put your little bib down. Please put your bib down little angel.” But this hasn’t worked at all. So last night I resorted to the “No” word. However, I want to be conscious of how I use this word – I don’t want to say “no” all the time, or it becomes meaningless. I would rather tell him a better option for his behaviour as opposed to just saying “no”, or “stop doing that”; giving him an option, shows him the correct way to behave while curbing the unwanted behaviour.  But at six months, when his understanding of language is so limited, the sweet redirection of “Put your little bib down.”, didn’t seem to be doing the trick.

And let me just clarify, that it is not so much the mess that I am trying to prevent – I mean every time he eats it’s a disaster: he basically gives himself a face mask of cereal, rubbing it in to his cheeks, his temples, his eyebrows, you name it. And when he reaches for the spoon I encourage him to feed himself, which creates even more of a mess – on the floor, on his clothes, etc. But these behaviours are all experimental and positive: he’s learning about food and the experience of eating. The difference with dumping his bib is that it’s not something I want him practice or learn. So, my solution?  A somewhat severe “No”, followed by a shake of my head and a (mini) teacher eye. He looked at me as if to say, “Oh my goodness. What’s going on?” And he sort of froze, stopped the bib business, and went back to eating without his bib in his mouth. So I praised him for his good habits, with lots of smiles and kisses.

But it seems Niko’s sort of like a goldfish at this point – he continued to put the lip of his bib to his mouth countless more times, but each time I stood firm with my “No” and pulled his bib away. I guess time will tell if my little rebel responds to this redirection or not.

Update: Tonight during supper Niko continued to eat his bib whenever he could (basically every five seconds or so). Borys’ response? “Shouldn’t we just let the little guy express himself as he pleases?”

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