Discipline How To: Just Kidding, I Have NO Idea

by Cookie

Let’s talk about discipline, Bitches.

How were you disciplined as a child?  What worked?  What didn’t?

We are at that age with the Destroyer where she can act like a little bit of a tyrannical jerk sometimes.  l love her so, so much, but being almost three is hard work for both of us.  There are a lot of feelings and thoughts going on in her mind that I’m sure feel overwhelming.  And just a little fuel like being over-tired or hungry or not getting her own goddamn way at any one second can result in a huge meltdown.

But my question remains:  How do you discipline a not quite three year old?

The “experts” all agree.  Spanking doesn’t work.

Or does it?

Have these experts ever lived through toddler-hood?  Do they know what a toddler is capable of?

They all want to talk about everything.  Give a time out. Get their attention in a nonviolent way because this word is so violent already.

I think I call bullshit.  I think nobody really knows, but the letters after their names make them REALLY good at pretending they do.

Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff  says that “Discipline is teaching, spanking is punishment”.  I agree, but sometimes punishment is teaching.  In the adult world, there are consequences for your actions. And they are very often things we aren’t going to like very much that make us feel like shit.  Kids need to understand that bad behavior results in bad results.

And yes, I realize that no one is getting a spanking in the adult world, but a two or three year old can’t see the future.  That’s why they are so hard to reason with, because they don’t have the gift of foresight.  They need an immediate reaction so that they can make a connection.  They need something to correct the current behavior so that you can talk about how to make a better choice.

“Hitting, unfortunately, is one way to get a child’s attention, but there are lots of other ways.” Speaking in a stern tone of voice or touching a child on the arm are nonviolent alternatives for getting a child’s attention”

Have you ever tried to get the attention of a freaking out two year old by touching their arm gently?

Give me a fucking break.

Now let’s talk about “time outs”.  This is one of those modern day parent terms that bug the shit out of me.  When my toddler is freaking the hell out because everything, I don’t threaten this.  I don’t make an announcement.  I just take her little hand and march her into her room until she can calm the fuck down and stop acting like a psychopath.  It’s not discipline.  It’s not punishment.  She has 50 million toys and books up there. It’s a break to distract her from the current meltdown, and it gives me a few minutes to catch my breath and avoid the call to the gypsies.

How about taking away privileges?

She’s 2 going on 3.  She doesn’t have any privileges.  And she doesn’t really care if her current behavior affects the future because she can’t see that far ahead.  Hopefully in another year or two, this will be an effective tactic.

So you know what works the best?  Distraction.  Not letting her get to that point and giving her choices at every turn.  No open ended questions. Specific, A or B questions, like:  Do you like waffles or pancakes?

Do you want to wear shorts or a dress?

Distract distract distract.

I honestly think that the reason no expert can agree on anything is because there is no universal way to discipline a toddler.

But I do wonder this: If spanking promotes aggressive, violent, and abusive behavior,  why is it that we see such an increase in these things in this day and age when most parents don’t believe in spanking?

Why is it that if spanking and punishing your child when they misbehave causes mental illness, and yet parents talk more and punish less, we see much more anxiety and such now?

I’ll give you my theory, then I’ll give you the floor:

Children need to know who is in charge.  And although it makes me feel like total shit the second I give that little human a spank on the bum, she knows that I am in the driver’s seat.

Even though kids constantly push boundaries and try to find ways to be in control, the bottom line is that if you let them be in charge, they don’t feel safe.  And when a child doesn’t feel safe, they get anxious and act like assholes.  And if this is established in early childhood, you got big problems headed your way.

Being an effective parent doesn’t mean that you spank your kids every day and it is the only method of discipline.  But I still believe that it has to be in your arsenal of tools.  Among them, so that the child understands limits and that when you push too far those limits get broken open and there are consequences.

All right, Bitches.  Thoughts?  Secret confessions?  The answer to all things discipline?