I read an interesting article on consistency with your children, and it made me reflect on my own disciplinary nature with my kids. I tend to be consistent, very consistent.
Grace says, "Mom, when you say 'maybe' it always means 'no' doesn't it?" Yep. Pretty much.
First off, why do I discipline my kids? Well, when I first got my dog, Herbie, as a puppy, one of my coworkers said, "A well-disciplined dog is a happy one because it can go more places." Am I comparing children to dogs? Yes, yes I am. I want to be able to bring my children around town, to doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, etc.- without drama. I also want my kids to be safe. If I say, "stay by the car while I get the stroller ready" I need to know my children aren't running in front of traffic.
I have an acquaintance with a 4-year-old girl who wears these jelly-style, hot-pink high heels all the time even though she cannot run in them at the playground, they hurt her feet, and they don't match anything. The mom says, "Well, she won't wear anything else!" Um.... who's in charge? When my kids want to wear something unreasonable or unseasonable, I simply say, "No" and I usually explain why. Now, to me, consistency means having reasons for my rules/choices. I should be able to defend them; I try not to be mean for the sake of being strict. So when my 4 year-old asks to wear flip-flops to the restaurant and bring a change of shoes for the playground following lunch-- to me, that's reasonable. If she had thrown a tantrum regarding my choice of shoes (sneakers) then there definitely would not have been a compromise.
|Playing the "My Mom is so strict..." blues...|
Parenting should incorporate some flexibility: dessert before dinner once in awhile; an occasional extra 3 stories at night; or even a "kids-choice" day. But the every day little "battles" are crucial in establishing a "parents-are-always-in-charge" environment. If you start letting your toddler wear pajamas to grocery store because it wasn't "worth the fight" that means the child will fight even harder the next time because he knows he can win.
As your children get older, they can understand "exceptions" to your rules or when you have a flexible-fun idea-- but toddlers-- they just think, "Wait, mommy gave me dessert even though I didn't eat my dinner last night-- she'll give it to me again if I cry loud enough!!"
Is it exhausting fighting this battle of wills with a 2-year-old? YES!! But, it's paying off. Since James turned two in November, I have not had to take him out of church once (no snacks, no toys either). Is it like wrestling a wild (but quiet) monkey-- yes! Are my arms breaking by the end of it? Yes! But I continue to battle every week....
|A battle I won....|
Also, one has to choose where the battlefield is. At one of James's doctor's appointments, he LOST it just trying to get him on the scale. Did I reward his behavior by giving him a lollipop? Yup-- I needed him to calm down because he still had to get blood drawn too. Did I then give him a mini-lecture on the way home? Yes. Plus, the next doctor appointment I preemptively explained what sort of behavior I expected- and it went much better. Did I lose that battle initially? Yes-- but I made sure he realized that his behavior was not acceptable.
Easy Rule #879-- Every battle is worth it, no matter how exhausting it seems.
Easy Rule #880-- Toddler choices might seem petty now, but when your teenager wants to get a tattoo of My Little Pony-- you'll want to be in charge.