Friday, April 22, 2005


Over the last year or so, as Piper has come into the terrible two's, I've had to really solidify my ideas about discipline. I didn't realize they were so fluid until she came along. Reagan was really very easy in that respect, and I didn't have much trouble. Piper is another animal altogether, and required a lot more thought and guidance.

Really, I consider myself an Attachment Parent. That is, if I can still be one without cloth diapers, co-sleeping, and some of those things. I believe that I can be a better parent when I am close to my children. Lots of physical contact (hugs and kisses), and lots of love.

But they still need discipline. With the rod of correction, you ask? Well, not necessarily. If being a disciple means you are following a teacher, then a teacher is what I must be. And I don't really have to spank them for that. Though, in truth, there are times when I think a spanking is totally justified.

I can teach my children better when I am calm, when I am with them frequently, and when I am consistent. Some of you know that I am a Nanny 911 and Supernanny fanatic. I'm so happy the shows are on at different times and I don't have to choose between them. Lately we've put Supernanny Jo's Naughty Chair into use in our house. We've had amazing results. It works this way:

  1. The child misbehaves, or acts in a way that is unacceptable.

  2. Parent gets down to child's level, looks child in the eyes, and in a low tone informs them that the behaviour is unacceptable and warns them that if it is repeated, they will go in the naughty chair.

  3. If child repeats behavior, they are sent to the naughty chair and told why they are going there. (1 min. per year of age of the child).

  4. After the time is up, parent reminds the child again why they were in the naughty chair, tells them how to behave, and requests an apology.

  5. Child says sorry, and goes back to playing.

Piper loathes the naughty chair. To her that is worse than a spanking. It is very effective. Since I definitely want to bring her attitude in line as well as her behavior, a poor apology doesn't get her out of the naughty chair. Usually that isn't a problem.

The naughty chair has been so effective, that when at a friend's house recently, Piper put a Barbie in the naughty chair. She's acting it out in play. I take that as a good sign, especially when followed with her hugging the doll as all is forgiven.

I don't believe the people who would call me a "punitive parent". They seem to feel that there is never a power struggle between parent and child. I'm telling you, sometimes there is. And my children need to know that I can win in that struggle, that I'm stronger than they are, and that I can be trusted. If I can't beat them in a power struggle over bedtime, how can they trust that I can make more important decisions for them? Or that my boundaries are really firm? And I don't believe that a child has to feel bad to learn when they've done something wrong. But since I want my children to have a properly formed conscience, it seems only right that they'd feel bad when they'd misbehaved. It's natural. I don't think I want kids who don't feel bad when they've done something wrong.

My children must obey me. It's not because I'm the Great Matriarch, and they shall bow down before me! It's for their safety. And when I am not obeyed, or minded, there is a warning and a consequence. They can count on it. Which means they can count on me, and have a few less worries.

My children are allowed to cry sometimes. No not cry it out or CIO. But there is a difference between meeting needs and meeting wants. My only question should be, what is in their best interests? Is it in Piper's best interest to keep getting out of bed at night? No. She'd like to. But it will mean less sleep for her, less sleep for me, crabbiness the next day, etc. She might cry because I'm putting her to bed and she doesn't want to go. So, there are hugs and kisses as I put her down, but if she wants to cry because it's bedtime, she is more than welcome. I can comfort and care and still be firm.

About spanking. I have and I probably will again for certain circumstances. For example, when I found Reagan sitting on his baby sister's head almost two years ago, he was spanked. And I was very angry. Then we sat down and talked. I apologized if I'd scared him. I also told him that what made me angry was the mommy in me, seeing that my baby was being hurt. I told him that that instinct was there for all my children, and would protect him as well if he were being hurt. It's never happened again. But spanking won't work for a kid like Piper. She's made of steel, and it has no effect on her.

In the end, I want to build a close bond with my children. I want to provide them with clear firm boundaries within which they can move freely. As they grow and develop, those boundaries will expand, allowing them to make more of their own choices. One day the boundaries will dissolve altogether, as my children will hopefully have developed their own.

Right now, I don't want to be their friend. I want to be their mother. And I want them to know me, to trust me, and to follow me.

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