Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just Some Passing Thoughts


We as parents often wonder what is the right way to train up our child. I know I had so many ways of thinking about how to do things when my children were young, but the pressures I received from those in my family were so strong that I gave into what I felt was right and follow the advice I received from those around me. This is not to say that the advice I received was always wrong.

Just some examples of where my parenting has changed the second time around.

Discipline: With my older kids the pressure was on to be in total control, no matter the cost. If the child misbehaved it was expected that they receive a spanking. I didn’t agree with this and seldom ever spanked my children, but discipline was something that was expected. I had a very head strong Mom who would take this area into her own hands if she felt I was not doing it right. I believe this left my children confused as to what to expect, there truly was no consistency in discipline, which led to a lot of misbehavior, and frustration on both my children and myself.

Am I saying that Selena doesn’t get disciplined? No, not at all, when she bluntly does something that is outside of our guidelines, or is putting herself in danger, yes, she is corrected. Do we spank, hardly ever, I do not want to say we haven’t spanked, as that would be a huge lie. Those times though are only when she absolutely has disregarded our warnings for her safety and I have had to weigh the distinction between will a spanking be better then the consequences of her getting seriously injured from her actions. Such as when she has climbed to stand on the top of our piano. Usually though I would just lift her down and explain how she could get hurt by doing this. This climbing stage has now seemed to disappear, I think due to two reasons, we didn’t make a huge dramatic thing out of it and, Selena lost interest. Time outs, now here is a discipline action that I do not use. Do they work? No, not in my opinion. There has never been a time that I have put Selena in a time out situation that she hasn’t turned right around and come out of time out to return to the behavior that caused her to go into time out to begin with. You’re probably asking about now, then what do you do for discipline? When Selena was younger we used a lot of distraction, looked at her behavior as a way of trying to tell us something, a need, a desire for attention, boredom or frustration. We worked with Selena verbally to figure out what she was trying to tell us, and usually it came down to her just wanting our attention. Once we distracted her with a book, a toy, a cartoon, or some time to play with us, that behavior was gone.

What have I seen to be the result of our discipline views and ways of doing things? Well, we have never had a screaming fit, the kicking and screaming, the defiance, the out of control, unruly child. Instead we have had a happy child, who has learned to communicate her wants and needs, accept when we say no, and understands we do have expectations for her behavior. I see a child who understands that she will lose a privilege if she misbehaves, and excepts the fact that  she will not get the privilege back just because she changes her attitude. She loses this privilege without a fit, without complaining, as she knows it is fair and just. We did not use removing privileges when she was younger as I didn’t feel she would fully understand or appreciate what this form of action meant. This is a new area of discipline for us, and so far has been very useful. For example, she is told what is expected of her, she gets a warning if her behavior strays from what we expect, if at this point she still continues to want to defy she is told she will lose a privilege of that one cartoon in the afternoon, or a computer game. Once it is gone, there is no way she can earn it back. We do not take her personal belongings away from her. The only reason she would lose a toy is if she is playing with it in an unsafe manner, and will not change her behavior to play with it appropriately.

I hear so many concerns about children who revert backwards in potty training or who are not potty training at a certain age or within the time frame the parent thinks is right. With potty training and many other aspects of Selena’s development, we used the introduction approach. We introduced what the expectation was, allowed Selena to explore, this new idea, and decide when she was truly comfortable and ready to implement this new idea. For example, potty training, at the age of one we were given a potty chair, well of course Selena was interested. We introduced it to her, she wanted to go sit on it, that didn’t mean she always used it. We didn’t push for her to use it. We didn’t make any potty charts or take her in within a certain time frame to see if she would go, we didn’t pack a potty chair with us when we were out and about. We used chocolate chips in the beginning only to reinforce that this is something we expect she will do someday, and to let her know that we loved her desire to try. We never got angry with her when she had an accident, she never got disciplined for having an accident. She was treated respectfully during those times, and told that it was ok, let’s just go get changed, no reason to cry over spilt milk. We didn’t set the standards high for her to be potty trained at a particular age. The more Selena explored this new concept, we allowed room for her to say “I am not ready.” Finally one day she was, she asked for big girl panties and that was it. We didn’t push the  night time training. In fact I didn’t even see us working on night time training until summer. One night she just told us I am ready, so we said ok, and she hasn’t looked back.

Now these ideas of child training have been around since my children were young, but were usually cast aside due to the pressures of society. I am so glad that this time I did not allow any outside pressures to enter my parenting desires, our home, or influence us in anyway. As I see it we have a Selena that is growing into the wonderful little girl we had hoped she would become. I have always taken pride in the fact that I can take Selena to the store or anywhere knowing she is going to know what is expected of her, and there is no fuss about it. I love knowing that she is a very happy child, has no fear of either one of us, and knows that no matter what the situation is, she can come to us and we will help her communicate her feelings and get through the situation, and we are able to do this tear free, fit free, and with peace and harmony.

Now here we are starting the next phase, the “NO” stage. Yes, she uses that word a lot these days, and at times she is very firm and has a lot of self confidence when she tell us “NO”, but we love the strength that she shows. We hope to use this phase to teach her that it is ok to say “NO” and while there are times when her “NOs” will not get her what she wants, this is a time to embrace as the next milestone in her development towards a healthy and confident person. We don’t see her telling us “NO” as a rebellious stage, we see it as a great opportunity to build the character she will need to meet the world head on. We also see it as a time to teach her that it is ok to say “YES” as well.

Let me tell you, this parenting the second time around truly teaches you more about yourself, and allows you to really embrace all the stages, and phases these little ones go through. If you think you come into parenting the second time around with more wisdom then you had the first time around, sure there are areas you feel more confident with and are able to say been there, done that, but there are many things that are just as scary as they are for all the first time parents out there as well. I suppose for myself anyway I find myself more relaxed and I do have the ability of embracing these trials of parenting.

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  1. I totally battled with Hudson (my first child) over potty training. Then the day he turned 3 he decided that going in the toilet was a good idea and hasn't looked back. With Meadow I will for sure wait until she is ready. I am often told that my children are well behaved and I think that is due to the expectations we have of them and consistency in the rules and consequences. Thanks for this post Debbie!

  2. Great Post! 2nd time around parenting has been easier for me too - I'm simply not letting perceptions or pressures from others around me dictate how I treat my child. Thus, I enjoy parenting much more than I did the first time around! Bless my two daughters who put up me - they get a kick out of seeing me raise their little brother - they're very aware of the differences!!

  3. I admire how you go about parenting Selena, it takes a lot of patience to go that route, and I don't know if I could quite manage it. It's still interesting to see though.

  4. I enjoyed reading this post. Even though we approach some things differently (we use timeouts here, and they work quite well), I absolutely agree with your approach of waiting for emerging skill to mature and emerge without rushing it. I think what really works is that you observe Selena and respect her intelligence and her desires. It does lead to great results.