Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Discipline is Hard

Here's the scenario:

I'm in the living room on my laptop working on videos, and Kevin is happily playing in his bedroom.  He's very independent and will leave me and go in there to play.  Often, when he wants reassurance that I'm still around he'll yell, "Ah?"  To which I usually respond, "Ah."

Very in-depth conversation, I know.

Then, he comes out carrying a toy.  He walks over to where I'm sitting and reaches out for the laptop chord.  He likes to yank it out and try and suck on the end.  We think that's a bad idea.  The idea of putting a plugged-in laptop chord in your mouth seems dangerous for some reason.  So, I quickly block his hand and say, "Stop."

I try very hard to maintain a serious expression.  It is difficult, however, when his face lights up with this huge smile and he starts giggling.

Okay, I'll admit it, he's pretty stinking adorable.  When it does that, it's really hard not to laugh at him.  Especially when he goes for the chord again.  I repeat my reaction, and he repeats the giggling.  Suddenly my discipline is a game.  His game.

I never thought this was going to be the problem.  I imagined that my kids would scream or throw tantrums when I told them to stop doing things.  I didn't imagine that they would find it hilarious.

We try not to say "No."  In my dog training class, the teacher told us that people find it too easy to say no, so dogs learn not to take that word seriously.  He told us instead to say "stop".  It isn't said as often, so when you do say it, they take you more seriously.  I have found it to be the same with children.

My sister the other day said that by accident she had done something really awesome.  When her kids did something wrong, instead of saying "no", she said either "nope" or "no way, jose".  When her kids got to that stage where they start saying no back to their parents, her kids said these two phrases instead.  My sister told me that it was far more difficult to get annoyed with her children when they were defiantly saying "Nope" than if they had been telling her no.

I'm not very good at discipline.  As a studying Student Teacher, that was my most difficult area.  I'm a very forgiving person.  I believe in mercy, so when a kid came up to me and said, "Please, give me another chance?" it was very hard for me to hold firm.  However, I came to realize that kid training is a lot like dog training.  When you set a rule, you need to stick with it, no matter what.  Kids and dogs are always pushing limits.  When you let them get away with something, they think that they outsmarted you and they can continue getting away with it.  They won't learn to respect you and listen to you, because they'll view you as a pushover.

I'm slowly learning to stick to my guns.  It's hard because I want to be nice, but I realize that if I want a well-behaved child who follows my rules, I also have to follow and keep my rules.  No matter what.  Consequences have to exist.  If a rule is kept, there are good consequences.  If a rule is broken, there are negative consequences.

Kids will continue to push my limits, I know this.  School was a good preparation for it.  Kids are always testing and trying to figure out where they get away with something.  It's not malice, it's just the way they are.  We all are constantly trying to test our own boundaries.  However, rules make us feel safe.  Kids who know where the boundaries are, are usually much calmer kids because they feel safe.  It's when they don't know what to expect from moment to moment that kids really begin to misbehave.  

The good news though, is that our consistency is beginning to show results.  Kevin is seldom going for the chord anymore, and he's learning to stay away from the garbage.  Even though it didn't seem like it was getting through to him, he is learning.

Pretty good for a ten month old.

Now, if we could only keep him out of the bathroom.


  1. This reminds Havelocksdad of Grig... he thought "no" was funny sometimes, and would laugh.
    Y'all are great parents and we all love your storytelling.

  2. I love that kid. Good spirit. Laughs in the face of adversity. These are good skills to develop. However, unfortunately it is your responsibility to keep your child from being hurt. Which as he grows you will find is not always possible. Good boundaries now will help him develop the skills he needs to survive in this world. You are very loving, very caring person. And if this rubs off on your kids the world will be a much better place. You are and will continue to be a wonderful mother and an awesome person. Don't be too hard on yourself. As long as you continue to seek guidance from God you will be extrordinare. Love you bunches and big hug from Texas. Yee haw

    1. Aw! Thank you so much! Your comment made me feel really good. I'm trying to be a good mother, but I appreciate the encouragement. You're an extraordinary person as well! Remember that God loves you, and so do I! Big hug right back to you!