Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Learning How to Discipline Toddlers aka Chaos Theory

*Important, Special Note: the book discussed below was purchased by me & is not in any way a solicited nor sponsored placement blah blah blah, etc.*

Having learned the hard way that one - ok, *I* - cannot cram for a baby as one did for the Bar exam, I resolved not to buy umpty-million toddler parenting books as I did for the infant stage. Surprisingly, I've actually stuck to this resolution, if only because I'm so busy preventing Master P from sofa surfing that I have no time to read them all, let alone meticulously highlight and take notes on them*.

*Yes, I wish I was kidding about that. Yes, I believe there are some other Legally Blonde types reading this & nodding in silent, sticky-noted understanding. 

It was that first incident of sofa surfing, in which my wee CEO paused only to show me the devilish gleam in his eye before catapulting himself headfirst off the couch, where I realized I might need to read something about rule setting. You might think this would be an intuitive thing, but "Try not to kill yourself!" and "You will never, ever inherit Mommy's handbag collection if you keep this up!" are surprisingly unpersuasive with the toddler set.

So I ordered this book on the recommendation of friends and, after a brief scan, began to implement its discipline philosophy of encouraging critical thinking versus barking out a set of "no" based orders. "No, do not put your toys in the dryer!" becomes, "Uh-oh! If you put your toys in the dryer they might get hurt. Do you want your toys to get hurt or not get hurt?" and so on:

Master P's latest trick is "helping" me with household chores like laundry; this usually includes his dropping a toy, himself, or both into whatever it is I'm doing.

In theory, this mode of discipline appeals to this recovering lawyer. As a child, I was a champion tantrum-thrower who never did well with totalitarian regimes - aka "my family" - telling me what to do "because I said so", and the Anonymous Husband was the classic "Why? Why? Why?" kid. It's a wonder we ended up lawyers, isn't it? In any event, it seems inevitable that our progeny will be, shall we say, more amenable to a discipline style that gives him a feeling - if not always the reality - of control over his own decision making. 

In practice, however, this has lead to some ridiculous exchanges here at Pretty HQ of late, including:

- "Uh-oh! When you fly face first off of the patio chair, that means you could break your face. Do you want to break your face or not break your face?"

- "Uh-oh! When you try to climb into the oven, it makes mommy sad. Do you want to make Mommy sad or not make Mommy sad? Mommy doesn't much care for cleaning the oven..."

Apparently we're to pull off these question and answer sessions with a straight face and without employing sarcasm which is . .  . an unlikely event here at Pretty HQ. Very.

I'm still figuring out which parts of this work for our family; sarcasm is the coin of our realm, obviously, and there are some "OHMIGOD GET THE HELL OFF THE COFFEE TABLE NOW NOW NOW!!!" moments that just come with having a toddler. I'll just continue to try my best figuring this all out and keep as many toys out of the spin cycle as I'm able.

Any toddler discipline books or schools of thought you've liked?


Danielle said...

I have read so many books (and I hate to read) that they've all started to contradict each other. What I've ultimately learned, though not so much after my readings, is that a) each child is different, b) kids go through phases, c) they will grow out of said phases, and d) what worked yesterday won't necessarily work today! Oh and e) kids don't understand reason until at least 4 years old. Found that out the hard way!

Jessica said...

It's not exactly a discipline book, but I LOVED "Playful Parenting" by Lawrence Cohen. It's more applicable to older children who aren't quite so prone to life-threatening activities, but it is chock full of examples of ways to diffuse situations and engage children on a more meaningful level by being playful. For the Type A mother, it's a great reminder that childhood is/should be fun. I vowed to read it once a year after I finished it the first time.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

This part of parenting makes me want to cry. Let me know if you get any good feedback!

URJ Photos said...
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Mrs. R said...

Ha..the only book that I have read so far related to kids at all is "The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom". Not really an advice book. LOL! I usually turn to google and try to find out what other moms tried. I need to pick up something with advice on "How Not to Turn Into a Helicopter Mom".

Seriously. LOL!!

Brandi said...

Keep me posted. My wiggle worm will soon be into this stage. He almost launched from the changing table this morning!

Amy @ Forever 29 said...

Ah, you got a cute little makeover! My BFF is on the Love & Logic train and even went to the seminars. I just watched the Moms On Call seminar and have been implementing most of those recommendations. Mr is reading Beyond Time Out right now which was recommended to us. I'm just happy he's actually putting some work into this parenting thing...I'll read it when he finishes (which may very well be after BB is no longer a toddler)

Rebecca @ The Reluctant Housewife said...

When I was pregnant I asked the two sets of parents that I admire the most in how they raise their children which books I should. Both immediately responded with Love and Logic. We just finished a 6 week class...I absolutely love the thinking behind this method!

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