WT 154: Discipline 1.0 - Laying the Foundation

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Resources and Links from this Show:

Parenting by the Book by John Rosemund

Dr. Kevin Leman’s Books: Making Your Children Mind without Losing Yours, Have a New Kid by Friday

Karen’s video lesson from Mom Core on Discipline

We’re kicking off a three-part mini-series this week all about discipline. Today Karen lays out the why behind every act of discipline and how to start off well in the early years. Then she answers questions from moms about how to address different behaviors in these early years.

Question 1: How do I start disciplining?  My son is 19mo.  How do I discipline him for disobeying?  Spanking?  Time out?  Other?  What books do you recommend I read for discipline for a toddler?

Karen’s Answer: At 19 months, you can start by changing the inflection of your voice.  Let your child know, you are serious. If your child is reaching for the outlet, grab his/her hand and say, “No, no”.  My rule of thumb is start off mild, and keep doing it as long as it works, when it starts not to work, and that will happen, then you have to ramp it up.  You will know. As far as what method, do what works.  All children are different. What works for one doesn’t always work for another.  

Spanking: let’s get a few things straight with spanking, never spank in anger, that is not discipline it’s anger and that is not good.  I get it, children can make you lose your cool, but walk away until you can get your emotions under control. I did spank, but it was controlled.  I tried to keep it to three swats. I would sit my child down, tell them why they were getting a spanking, then spank them three times usually with a wooden spoon.  Then I would hug them and tell them I love them, and because I love them, I cannot allow them to behave the way they were. Here is the thing with spanking, once you do it a few times, all you have to say is “Do you want a spanking?” and then normally your child will stop, because they don’t want one.  I usually saved spankings for the real bad offenses. Time outs: They never worked for my kids, not until they got older, like teenage years.  Be the parent, they need you!

Question 2: I was spanked as a kid and feel like my parents did it well (aka it was always in private, it  was controlled, there was an explanation and time for reconciliation). My husband was spanked as well and while he always take our kids back to a private bedroom to do it, it is over so fast I get the sense it isn’t as “complete” (i.e. loving) as when I do it. What does it look like to spank in a healthy way?
Karen’s Answer: Controlled- in my opinion.  Dads do it with less words. I will say this, anytime a dad disciplines, it is effective, because most children don’t want to disappoint their dad. If your husband is disciplining the children, that is good, I wouldn’t say anything unless you think he is crossing the line, which it doesn’t sound like he is, he’s just fast. Talk with your husband and explain your approach.  I would thank him for being involved, but you want to share your heart with him too.  Men respond to praise, not when they think they are getting in trouble.

Question 3: I have a question regarding spanking. I know this is a controversial subject, I have a hard time spanking  my child when for example, he hits. He’s 2 years old and going through a hitting phase. What are your thoughts? Doesn’t it seem counterintuitive to tell him to not hit and then when he does, he gets timeout and if he continues hitting, a spanking (which is an intentional, non aggressive hit from a parent)? I struggle with this. Besides taking away his blanket and putting him in timeout, sometimes spanking is the last resort. Thank you for your thoughts. I struggle with this.

Karen’s Answer: I’ve heard that from back when my children were little and now today.  Here is the way I look at it, and I could be wrong, these are just my thoughts. Spanking is different from hitting because when you hit you are mad or angry and you are retaliating. A spanking is controlled and you are explaining the reason behind the spanking.  Hitting is also, quick and in the moment. Spanking is not, you have removed them from the scene, talked to them, then spanked. I have never had a two year old question me. Pray about it.

Question 4: I have a three year old little boy who is very tender hearted. Sometimes he is so full of energy and does not listen to me. How can I discipline in a kind, loving way letting him know that I am the boss, but also not crushing his sensitive, happy spirit?

Karen’s Answer: I get what you are saying, but if he is not minding you, you need to get his attention.  He won’t be happy when you discipline him, but keep in mind, making your child happy is not possible all the time in parenting. There will be times when your child is not happy with you, and that is okay. Happiness was never my goal in parenting.  Having a child that obeyed me and was respectful was my goal. My son Taylor was very sensitive, and most of the time I could talk to him and he would adjust his behavior, but there were times that I had to discipline him.  He is still sensitive to this day, I didn’t crush anything. Be brave and keep the end goal in mind.

Question 5: My 3 year old has always had strong emotions and a big temper but since she’s turned 3 they have gotten so much worse.  She throws things across the room and hits my husband and I.  We are very consistent in our discipline but it doesn’t seem to help.   

Karen’s Answer: Consistency is going to be your key here with her.  I would never allow her to get away with that behavior, not even once. You might feel like you are getting onto her all the time, but she has to learn she will not win this battle.  If you are consistent and stay with it, I guarantee she will stop in time. You also might need to up the discipline.  For instance, if you put her in time out, think about a spanking, or taking away favorite toys.  Mine may have thrown something one time, but never on a regular basis.  But, I was strict. I didn’t play around when it came to stuff like this.  I can’t remember any of mine hitting me or Greg. Find their currency and keep at it. Don’t give up.