Disclaimer...we do believe in spanking, so if you are against it, I wouldn't read this post! Also, if I am turned into CPS, I will DENY DENY DENY and say that someone else hacked into my computer and posed as myself to set me up. I will also tell them that we only hug, kiss and try to reason with out 2, 3 and 4 year old children and that they are obedient because we have met all their wants and desires as well as their needs. ;)
There are lots of great books that I have read about discipline and structure in the home, and I have come to realize that there is no exact answer. We have taken a little of this and a little of that and molded it into what works for our family. I am going to share a few tips that we use but I won't say that it work for everyone.
A great book to read is "Shepherding the Child's Heard" by Tedd Tripp
Discipline really means to disciple.
It takes much prayer and even more patience to disciple an adult let alone a child. But in the end, it is well worth it!
I will begin with infants and work my way up to the preteens that we have in our home.
I have an infant in the home and there is one important area we focus on in this stage:
I believe as infants, structure is needed to build a foundation for obedience and a happy countenance. First because when structure is in place, there are few, if any, surprises. Our bodies as adults tell us when we are hungry and when we need sleep, but our babies do not know what these feelings are nor what to do with them. It is our job to meet these needs, but it is an art to be able to train their bodies to know what they need and out of habit, their day is shaped.
For example, I already have a routine for Canaan. A feed, wake and sleep routine. I wake him to feed him, thus meeting this need before he even has to cry to let me know he is starving. I keep him awake for a time, thus making sure he is sleepy. I put him down for nap while he is still awake and so his body learns how to fall asleep on it's own because he is tired. Also, this allows me to learn his cries. It doesn't mean that he is hungry every time he cries which I believe is a common mistake for parents to automatically feed them when they cry.
There are times when he is going through a growth spurt and he needs to eat more frequently or when he is sick, he may need to be rocked to sleep. But in these times, I am still at peace knowing that he has a structured foundation and when these times are over, habit will bring us back to our routine.
I have a toddler in my home as well, and there are a few things we focus on in this stage:
First time obedience
Taming the tongue
Learning how to respond to "no"
We continue with structure...We have 3 main meals and 2 snacks. This is the only time they eat unless we have some weird thing happen in our day. They are not allowed to help themselves to food but since we have trained their bodies, I don't have to hear all day long, "I'm hungry" or "When is it time to eat?" and they are not trying to sneak in the pantry all day long.
We also continue with nap, since this is a need we all as humans have, especially when we are wee ones growing.
Up until 1 year old, I lay them down for two 2 hour naps. At a year old, I begin one 3 hour nap and that continues through to 5-6 years old. Bedtime is at 7:30 and I wake them if they are not already awake at 7:30 in the morning. This is equal to 15 hours of sleep a day.
Sleep for these little ones is VERY IMPORTANT...many times I have been asked by a parent what they should do if their little ones are just bouncing off the walls and they can't seem to control them. My first question in response is,"Do they have nap time?"
There is such a thing as "over stimulation"!
Next is training them how to respond when we say "no". I don't know about you, but I would rather them learn this process at home rather that in a store or someone else's house!
So, I set my kids up at home. I know...mean, but that is the kind of mama I am ;)
I will place an item that is off limits (candy, something with a plug such as a stereo etc.) in my clear view, but also in clear view of my children. When I see them go for it, I will tell them no (one time!) and will usually get one of two responses when we first begin. Either they will pitch a fit...which will lead to being put in seclusion of their room or crib until they are completely over their fit. I will not give them attention if they are crying or screaming for me...I wait until they have settled down and can go in with a smile. Or they will continue to go for it which will guarantee a swat on the hand.
*I say "swat" when they are this age, because the goal is not pain, but rather to gain their attention.
Spanking in our home is only on the behind and it is never done where there is an audience. We will have a "meeting" in the bathroom for a spanking.
I do this "setting up or training exercises" as much as possible at home, but there have been a few occasions we have had to leave a cart at the grocery store to administer discipline in the car. That would happen when we got to the end of our shopping trip and they ask for one of those candies...why do grocery stores do this to parents?!?!?!
I can say that I have not had one of these occasions in a very long time. The older ones have learned from experience and the younger from watching their older sibling's experience ;)
We also start "blanket time" where our children are put on a blanket and expected to stay put. We will give them a few toys or a little snack and it they try to get off, we will put them back on with our one and only "no" after that first no, it will be a swat. This is a tip I wish everyone would try. I now have 5 children who have done this and it makes life so much more peaceful when we are at church or somewhere we would like to keep them in sight. It has never taken more that a week worth of these sessions for them to get it...and then it lasts for years!
There are no threats..."Don't do that or I'm gonna..." or "No No cuz you're gonna get a spankin."
All that also ties into First time obedience. We tell them once and administer appropriate discipline if they do not obey. Simple as that.
Sometimes it feels as if you are handing out discipline ALL DAY LONG. Sometimes you are, but they do get it eventually and it IS worth it!!
Then, I have discovered that this is the yelling stage and that 2 year olds do not understand "Shush" so I came up with flicking the lip or giving their chin a little pinch. It sounds mean, but it never makes them cry, again, it is just an attention getter...and it works!
Oh and all these things are foundations for self control that will be very much needed in life!
Well, this is getting long...never knew I was such an expert ;) Just kidding...I am just a little long winded sometimes!
I will end with this for now and continue with the next ages a bit later. If you have any questions or things that work for you...I would love to hear them!