Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Eat Your Vegetables.

(Okay, before I begin, I have to tell you this! Today Cub got a hold of my (now cold) mocha from Starbucks and took it upon himself to take a sip (GREAT!) and toddle it back to his bed. Who doesn't love a good cup of coffee in bed?? It sloshed all over the place before ultimately ending up wedged between the mattress and the wall, by the time I caught him! Of course, that meant tossing the cup in the trash and hoisting the sheets, pillow, and duvet cover into the washing machine. And shampooing the carpet where some wayward chocolatey splashes fell. And wiping the chocolatey chin of a delicious little boy. Silly little kid. It cracked me up!)

Okay. So. Parenting advice. We've all received it, whether we've asked for it or not! And, while some advice can be a tad frustrating, there is a lot of advice that I've found to helpful. So, I wanted to share some of that today! Firstly, I remember my Dad telling me that "Discipline begins in the crib!" I realize that can sound harsh ... if you liken discipline to punishment. BUT, really, discipline should be done in love whereas punishment is typically the product of anger. Discipline is a response, where as punishment is a reaction. Things like crying it out and learning to stay in the crib are great examples of early discipline--creating healthy boundaries because you believe the best of your child, that they are capable of learning and growing even as infants. And, of course, including loads of affection with kisses and hugs and cuddles. Feelings of self-worth, confidence, and boundaries ... and it all starts at the age of the crib.

Secondly. I've mentioned the book Don't Make Me Count To Three by Ginger Plowman before. I appreciate a lot of what Mrs. Plowman has to say, but there is one principle that has stuck to my brain like white on rice and I'm so glad I read it. She tells the story of a young child who is misbehaving in a store. The child is whiny and fitful and disobedient, and all the while the mother is apologizing that her child is "tired". Mrs. Plowman suggests that shoot, we're not allowed to act that way just because we're tired, so why should children? As a new mom, I realize how easy it can be to excuse a child's bad behavior. "No, really, she usually isn't this way--she's teething!" "Oh, I'm sorry he hit your child. He's just very tired!" Because the reality is that yes, those things absolutely affect the way our children act. I'm cranky when I'm tired, too. BUT, that doesn't mean I get to haul off and smack the first person that crosses my path. I'm not allowed to scream at the dinner table when I have a headache, so my child may not scream at the dinner table because he's popping a molar.

I'm not implying that we should be stoic to the fact that are children are uncomfortable. Show the teething child sympathy. And good grief, don't drag an exhausted child to a restaurant or the mall! Be kind by doing what's best for them. If you know little Timmy is sleepy from a long day, stay home and spare yourself and others the frustration of a cranky kid in public. He'd rather be at home with Mommy and Daddy anyway, plus it's way easier to follow through on discipline when there aren't tons of people staring you down!

Yesterday, Cub was cranky and drooly all day and I knew he must be teething. We have a little routine after I change Cub's diaper. He picks it up and carries it to the kitchen trash can, lifts the lid, drops it in, and says, "Yay!" (We empty that trash every day, don't worry.) Yesterday I finished changing his diaper and handed him the used diaper and asked him to please take it to the trash can. He held it in his hand and suddenly burst into tears. He set the diaper on the ground and stood there, sniffling, looking up at me. Knowing he was obviously a bit unhappy and probably uncomfortable (and good grief, still so stinkin' cute), I got down on his level, kissed his head, and explained that I knew he wasn't feeling good and that I would help him carry his diaper. I handed it to him and offered him my hand. He knew the expectation was there for him to obey and that I was giving him a second chance--not in anger, not threatening. In the midst of his pain, he felt safe to obey. He took my hand and we walked together to the kitchen, where he tossed the diaper in the trash, and even gave the "Yay!" at the end of it. It might seem like a little thing. And maybe some of you will think I'm too harsh for still expecting my little guy to obey when he's teething. But, I wasn't cruel. He wasn't miserable. And the diaper got tossed.

So, that is also some of the best advice I've received (or read): Discipline starts in the crib, and, Be careful to not excuse disobedience.

How about you? What's some of the best parenting advice you've received??


  1. That is very good advice. Cub seems a lot like Sophia...rules are rules; even when you don't feel well, are at someone else's house, etc.

    I find it helps to get down to their face level when they start being cranky or about to throw a tantrum. Tell them why you think they are cranky in simple terms they will understand (I know you are upset because you are tired...or because you want Mommy's mocha. haha) and then explain what you expect of them. We've dodged a lot of potential tantrums using this technique. It also helps shorten an in process tantrum. Toddlers basically just are trying their best to communicate and it can be frustrating when Mommy and Daddy just aren't getting it.

    We also remind Sophia to "use her words" when she gets cranky and whines. I say "Mommy doesn't understand cries...Mommy understands words. Can you tell Mommy what's wrong?" and she typically will calm down and tell me whatever it is (while at her eye level).

  2. I know my little one, even at 15 months understands what I'm saying and he tries so hard to communicate with me. I also understand that when we get frustrated with each other, because we can't talk to each other yet - that it's not either one of our faults. I just try to treat him like I want to be treated - and like when I take his little shoes off, I rub his feet and his little toes, scratch his back and give him little mini massages...I try not to raise my voice to him, usually works out unless I'm scared for him - like yesterday, he was swinging on my sister's flat panel that isn't mounted to the wall...yeah...I raised my voice.
    He has been cutting his back teeth...it's been HORRIBLE for him, so I try to make him as comfortable as possible and do things I know he loves - like outside. He loves being outside, he loves to sit and read books, etc. etc. There's been a lot of that going on...because, yeah, he needs to learn self control and to be obedient, just as I need to learn patience, but I think too, that sometimes we just need a break - I think most days are a time for teaching our little ones about the do's and don'ts and then there are days when they want to call in sick and just rest...so I let Bubba have those days every now and then. Great topic...and the best piece of advice I've ever received - Home is home...comfort, warmth, memories, love, laughter...all under one roof. I want so much for my babies to feel safe and secure, it's very important to me.

  3. We are just entering the territory of "No No, Levi" because now that he is mobile, he finds himself in situations that he shouldn't be in (chewing on cords, opening the fire place doors, etc.)! Saying "No, No" and removing him from the situation works wonders for us right now. It's funny because he looks at me like "why Mom? But...I was having fun!" I always explain to him that it's dangerous, yada yada, and though I know he doesn't understand that now, I know he will soon enough. Consistency is key!

    I've been given gobs of good advice. The best being to pray for wisdom as I begin each day. It keeps my focus straight and gives me the confidence I need to do what is best for Levi.

    Note To Self: When my diet coke comes up missing, check the crib. ;)

  4. I came across your blog at work I was reading someone's I clicked on someone elses, I clicked on another.
    I don't actually have children yet, hopefully someday, and this advice is so great I'm filing it "for the future"!

  5. ooh I really like that idea! I'll have to keep that in mind for when Elsie teethes... is tired... what have you.

    Thanks for the advice!


  6. I'm all for discipline too. I grew up under the "Dare to Discipline" mentality of Dr. James Dobson. However, I do think that some children are just more "difficult" than others. There are "strong willed" kids who are very difficult to manage - I know because I was one of them. Disciplining the difficult child is extremely challenging. I know because my son takes after his mama.