Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Noooo. No! (Now what?)

Disclaimer: Whether or not you're a parent, please feel free to comment, although, if you don't have kids...just know, this may not interest you.

I believe we've reached the point in time when Sam kind of understands "no". If he doesn't understand it, he needs to. What with trying to climb stairs, open the trash can, pull open cabinet doors and my personal favorite - stick his hands in his mouth while eating then immediately rub them through his hair. (I get a little frustrated just thinking about it).

Does he obey? Not usually. Shocker, right? I mean he is a baby...with a sinful nature.

So, here's the deal. I'm not sure how harshly to discipline him when I'm not positive he understands what "no" means. On the flip side of that, maybe I will help him understand by punishing him. (Again though, how harshly??)

Personally, I'm a fan of time out right now. It has worked already a time or two.

FYI, we will be spanking but I don't think we're ready for that just yet. If you disagree with that, I'm sorry because you will probably have a difficult time containing your children. Just my, I would say opinion but it's really not, it's a conviction. (Proverbs 13:24)

I am, however, alright with a little hand popping or squeezing right now.

What I'd like to know is at what age did you feel your child was understanding enough to be disciplined. And, how harshly did you discipline? I'm thinking, if I don't see results after some consistent correction, is that because he doesn't understand or because I need to ramp up the discipline?

Come on....I know y'all like to give advice ;).


Lauren said...

I LOVE talking about this, because I feel like it's so important. God's Word holds a lot of instructions and promises regarding how we raise, train up, and especially discipline our children. Maybe you would enjoy reading some of the books I love and swear by - "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl, "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. A few others that my friends have also used and loved but I have no personal exp with are "Teach Them Diligently", "Standing on the Promises", and "Raising Godly Tomatoes."

Now, all that said, we started thumping (as in flicking by cocking your middle finger behind your thumb) Mac's hand for "no-touches" when he was about 6 or 7 months old. Basically as soon as he was mobile and reaching for things like lamp cords, Truett's toys, remote control, etc. At Sam's age, you could really reap a lot of fruit by having "training sessions." All that means is to set him on the floor within reach of a desirable but off-limits object, like your hair dryer or something. Say "no" and thump when he picks up, then touches, then reaches for the item. Having such sessions several times a day with different objects will teach him that your "no" really does mean no. You are not training him to not touch one specific thing, but rather to listen to your voice and commands/instructions. I switched to a neutral instrument of discipline when Mac was about 15 or 16 months old. We still do occasional "training swats" for new rules that we're just learning, but for the most part there aren't many new rules in our house, so we "discipline spank" on the bottom. There really is a HUGE difference b/tw training and discipline.

I think you will really enjoy "training." The whole idea behind it is that the more you train now, the less you discipline later. Nothing will spare you from the "toddler years" but training will definitely give you a head start. There is so much more to training and discipline that I'd be happy to discuss with you in a more private forum, but I strongly recommend reading up on it for yourself. :o)

Alicia said...

This is Alicia, Richard's wife. I'm so glad you posted this and so eager to see what others say. We've been having this same dilemma lately with Shiloh. I believe she is starting to understand what she should and shouldn't do as well as when we tell her no. Just today she was crawling over to something she's not supposed to touch and when she got there she looked at me to see if I was watching her. As far as she knew I wasn't (I saw all of this out of the corner of my eye) so she proceeded to touch said object. And as soon as she did she looked back again to see if I was watching. When she saw that I was she give me this smile and I swear the look in her eyes said, "I dare you to tell me no, I'm too cute".

Rachel Callahan said...

I know what you mean - I remember being there and not wanting to be too "gung ho" and agressive about discipline, but knowing that something had to start.

I don't think Ali really understood "no" UNTIL I started thumping her hand, and then she got it REALLY fast. It was an easy training time for us - once she got it, I didn't have to discipline her hardly ever again until just recently when she's starting to experiment with being two. "no" always worked once she realized that I meant it.

But I strongly believe that discipline is different for EVERY child - they are all going to have different training times, different things that work for them, etc. You just have to try a few things, and it won't take long to figure out what works for Sam.

Laura said...

Well, I'm not a parent, so not sure if my comment is allowed, but I can't stop laughing about that picture! :)

Jaci Spain said...

I think a lot of it depends on the personality of your child. With Mia just saying "no" worked for a long time. She was very compliant and was usually devastated if I just raised my voice to her. Averi on the other hand...:) I would say "NO!" over and over and she would just stare at me and smile and keep doing it. So I had to start popping her little hand or leg and then removing her from the area before she got it. She seems to be catching on now. I think around 9 mos. to a year is an appropriate age to start popping your child. I would say they aren't ready for full on spanking (as far as using an object etc.)until around 2.

I do hate it when I see 1 year olds pitching a full on fit and their parents doing nothing about it because they think they are too young for any kind of correction! They know exactly what they are doing...I have had to bite my tongue many times even with some of our closest friends or family.

Greta said...

Thanks guys! I knew y'all would come through. (And I expect a few more bits of advice from you readers who haven't yet commented).

Hand-thumping sounds like something we'll be trying as does "training sessions" (thanks Lauren).

Mawmaw said...

Greta,Is that duck tape on our baby boy? He looks as if he is enjoying it! Good luck in training him. If he is anything like his Poppa - you will have your hands full...but I am sure you will do a great job.

Greta said...

For clarification purposes...that is not Sam on the wall.

Camille Platt said...

i have friends with four boys and thumping the back of their hand worked great, even starting around 7 or 8 months old. it kind of helped communicate the meaning behind the "no" i think. and you could tell they knew what they were doing. they'd reach for something then peak over their shoulders and grin... testing their parents to see how close they could get!

Gaskill Rascals said...

I think the spanking early can be good to develop a sense of no in your child. Each child IS different. We have only had to spank a few times(around age 1 and beyond) and then the timeouts meant something to him. He made the connection that timeouts meant we were dissappointed and therefore he could not continue his activity. I think it can only happen with some clear explination and talking time to make sure he knows that the "spanking" is the result of bad behavior and that we do it b/c we love him and want him to be safe. But most of all, I think this has to be decided differently for each child.

Bek* said...

i don't have kids, so i'm not going to pretend to have it all together. but as an extensive babysitter and at one point career nanny (and as such, i have never come up with my own punishment...i always have guidelines from the 'rents), i will say this...

the best thing i have ever seen was one little boy when he was about sam's age, strike one was "no." strike two was and hand pop (at one point he would do something and then turn around, look at you and pop his own hand...that's when it got elevated to a leg pop which he hated) and strike 3 was crib time-out. he hated that so much that it usually worked like a charm. but i think you obviously know your child better than anyone else...so take all that for what its worth.

Rachel Garcia said...

Ahh.. the subject so close to my heart. mainly bc of having to fumble my way through it. I think everyone so far as offered some great advice. I would like to approach it a little more detailed. (shocker). The goal of our instruction is training in righteousness. so our discipline has to be done for that purpose.. not from a heart of anger (yeah.. that is the one i fumble over). The thing (like there is only one) about training/discipline is that it changes a little from child to child and the age of said child. That's the part that I always want older moms to clarify (i.e at what age did you use timeouts...etc).

So here are some tidbits of advice I have gotten over the past three years (mostly from frantic phone calls to mom). lol.

-Sams age: he understands "No." the change in mommy's voice. The first time he touches something you tell him "no" and then remove him from the area, hand him another toy, etc. If he heads right back and repeats his action, then I would do a thump, slight pop on the hand, and again move him from the area. At his age, up until about a 15 months..they truly don't remember the rules 10 minutes later. Doesn't mean you don't do the training again.. but to pop on the first strike is not training. or in my opinion, helpful, bc they are just too young to remember for long periods of time.
16-2 yrs. -this is where it takes more work with the training. Patience is key. Explanation doesn't always work because of their level of ability to grasp everything you are saying... so two word commands are still vital, "no touch," "no throw." etc.
spanks on the leg are for outright rebellion (you tell him to not throw the toy again and picks up and throws it again). Pop on the leg and take the toy away. Most things at this age are removal from the situation (ex: when Alex gets mad at the dinner table and throws his food on the floor..he gets a leg pop and is excused from dinner).
2 1/2-3 .. training is crucial. again they have to know the rules before they can be disciplined for them. Spanking is reserved for outright rebellion (you tell him to come to you and he says no). Then the spanking is an EVENT (not in the moment of where you are. We go to the bathroom, I tell him why he is getting a spanking and how many spanks, spank, we pray and then we are done. This can happen again two minutes later. The point is that it is an EVENT.

I think the point is to not confuse timeouts, removal of priveledge (past 2yrs) with spanking. I think the timeouts (1 minute for each year age of the child) is appropriate for behaviors that aren't classified as rebellion (child is not playing well with others, isn't sharing, etc)..but spanking is for those things that they are making a stand and deciding to not obey (hitting, biting, gernerally harming others, telling you no, not obeying the first time you tell them) etc.
this is where the hard part starts. deciphering between typical child anyx and rebellion. training is what helps you see the difference. You ALWAYS train before you discipline. But as they get older (around 2 1/2-3) you have to be careful that your training isn't really "debating" with them and giving them opportunity to disobey (your yes is yes and your no is no.. there is no debate) some parents want to "explain" too much when their child understands and they are really just arguing "nicely" with their parents, even at that young age. My 3 yr old tries it all the time.

Bottom line is that is takes a lot of work and its not for the faint at heart. No laziness allowed. And you have to expect setbacks with major life changes (sickness, new baby..etc) it'll be one step forward two steps back. But never fear, nothing is too difficult for the Lord. Also, some days you will end up staying at home and not going anywhere bc of the need for training.. although that's generally around the 16 month stage. ;-)

oh girl enjoy the bumpy ride. it's a long one.

Lindsay said...

Wow - I'm scared to death to get to this point in child-rearing. I've mastered diaper changing and feeding (the easy stuff :)), but know I'm going to struggle with these questions soon enough. Great advice from everyone, though. I'm sure I'll be asking you for advice in a few months, so take good notes! :)

Courtney said...

wow, you are SO brave to even open this up for comments. people do love to give advice, and of course, i'm one of them!

a lot has been said (lots of details!), but i thought i'd offer a little different perspective. i plan on practicing grace-based discipline with mcm. (if you don't know much about it, check out this website: www.aolff.com. you might also want to look into the book "grace-based parenting" by tim kimmel - excellent book - or "families where grace is in place" by jeff vanvonderen - also excellent.

i've done a lot of reading, thinking, praying about it, and a lot of getting to know my own child. i've come the conclusion that the most important thing to me is not how my child behaves on the outside but the condition of her heart on this inside. that is something that only the holy spirit can really change. i don't want to just shape her behavior, i want to draw her into a relationship with me that draws her toward Christ - not simply good outward behavior. i realize that it is impossible to expect my child, who does not yet have the holy spirit, to behave with insta-discipline, showing all the fruits of the spirit all the time, when that is not even something that i, as an adult believer, am able to do. (if you're curious, i may spank if it becomes necessary, but physical discipline will be used very sparingly in my house and with much attention paid to the child's personality type/sensitivity level. not judging anyone who spanks, just the decision we've come to for our household. i do not believe spanking is biblically mandated, and there are better explanations on that subject all over the web and on that website i told you about)

a few tough things - many baby/toddler behaviors are annoying, but that does not make them wrong. i continually have to remind myself of what is developmentally appropriate right now and choose not to make a discipline issue out of something that merely gets on my nerves. wiggling during diaper changes, dropping food on the floor, getting messy when eating - these are all normal parts of toddlerhood. "fixing" them by getting frustrated and using punishments is mostly for my convenience. the idea of "training" by keeping a desired object just out of a child's reach seems confusing and aggravating to me - see Colossians 3:21. plus, why would you create create a problem that is not there? you know what i mean? use discipline (meaning direction, teaching) when a true matter of discipline is at hand. otherwise you may find yourself creating a contention and frustration in your kiddo that is really unnecessary. (not that sam could ever be contentious - he's too sweet and laid-back like his mama!)

when it comes to matters of safety - touching objects they shouldn't, getting into things - i think a firm "NO" with enough emphasis to convey the seriousness of the matter and then redirecting is enough for a 9-month-old. they literally do not remember the "no" a few minutes later, so you will find yourself doing the same things over and over. what you have to remember is that baby/toddler curiosity is not a reflection of their sinful nature - it's just curiosity. and they do it again not out of rebellion, but because it takes a long time for "no" to sink in with a baby.

my advice - start small. know your child. discipline yourself first - "is this really a behavior that must be changed? is my baby just tired, hungry, overstimulated, needing comfort/attention, or is this a matter of discipline that really needs to be addressed?"

and hang in there. we're all learning this stuff together!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greta said...

Why I deleted a comment...

I don't particularly care for anonymous comments. There really is no excuse since you can always add your name AND the internet is so passive anyway.

Even more so, I don't care for comments attacking other commenters on my blog. Feel free to go to their blog and take up any issues you have. If you're commenting here, please stay respectful and I'd apreciate the comments being aimed at me.

Thanks to everyone who gave well thought out advice. Parenting is definitely the biggest challenge I'll ever face and I believe it'll be helpful to hear other perspectives along the way.

Anonymous said...

great topic, greta...
i feel that if discipline is not done in love, it is better to wait until you can walk in the love Jesus has for your child...and then do it....it should be a bonding experience (it is always done in private in our home- the bathroom)....but for little ones (14-24 months) we flick their little hand and say "no" in order to get our point across...and it ussually does the job....

i don't agree with ALL of any one teaching series on discipline. I have learned to take what works for me, and leave the rest. little bits and pieces, you know...

one tape series that has helped me is by brother Denny Kenneston...he is a part of a group called the Charity Gospel Minstries. We have learned a lot. Don't take it all ab biblical truth, but he does have a lot of wisdom to impart. I also like the Pearls " To train up a child"...but don't go overboard on any one teaching is my advice...listen and glean what you think is from the Lord and be free to leave the rest.

Love + Consistency + Patience will never fail:) You will see the fruit of your labor and it will bring a reward that is eternal....it is so worth it (even thought i have never like disciplining my girls)....

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Good subject! I would say even if Sam doesn't understand no, he definitely picks up on the change in the tone of your voice. With my daughter at Sam's age I kept pretty exclusively to taking both of her hands, getting her attention, saying no, and removing her from the area. She rarely went back, and if she did I repeated. If she went back a third time, she got a time out. My pediatrician suggested at 9 months it was a good time to start time outs as needed, sitting the child in your lap and not paying attention to them for a minute and then letting them down in an area removed from the "trouble area". I'd love to hear the progress you're making and what works best for you and Sam!

Take care,