Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Disciplining Cupie Doll

If children define themselves by what they are called most often, my toddler’s first name is No!

No! Baby! She just drew with blue marker on the walls in her room.

No! Sweetie! She tried to pick up her sister.

No! Stop. Bad Idea! She pushed a chair over to the refrigerator to get at the chocolate syrup.

No! No! No! No! She just unrolled a whole spool of toilet tissue and ran with it streaming behind her when I discovered her fun.

Fortunately, she still has that super cute toddler power to prevent parents from being too outraged, just overwhelmed.

The parent magazines say to try and catch the toddler “being good.” This is a silly statement. It’s not like I’m going to happen upon my two year old donating her piggy bank to the Salvation Army or find her on the phone soliciting funds for the March of Dimes. She’s two for crying out loud. She has two modes of operation, mischief and sleep. At least I think she sleeps sometimes.

That she sometimes doesn’t spike the wooden block on her brother’s head when they are playing together is not an incident of her “being good.” It’s the baseline. I expect them not to intentionally injure each other while playing.

These same helpful rags maintain that children this young don’t know what cause and effect is. So why does she run like lightning when she hears me start to yell NO! as she’s climbed up to the sink and turned on the tap? It seems to me she’s got a firm grasp on the boundaries of life she routinely exceeds. I’m not buying it. A kid that can climb onto the table to get the M&m’s and unwrap the rubber band holding them closed to get at the contraband chocolate she hasn’t earned because she didn’t potty, is sentient enough to be told “Knock it off!”

The discipline gurus stress that under two should not be put in time out for more than 2 minutes, as they have no sense of time. I need at least those two minutes plus to regain composure. I believe in punitive minutes for excessive destruction. I don't care if they're for me.

They also maintain that spankings are taboo and ineffective. So the kid can pull all the clothing out of a closet, pour grape juice on the carpet and push over a vase of flowers, and open the Oreos inside the pantry to feast before breakfast while I’m making kids lunches, and the proper discipline approach should be told ”No no no…” in an indoor calm voice. I don’t think so.

I’ve figured out a better way to discipline a toddler.

Sibling rivalry. I bet your brother can clean his room before you do….he’s so much bigger after all…off she goes…

Tom Sawyer rules. Scrubbing the colored walls with Mr. Clean sponges. “Wow, this is so much FUN!” “Let me! Let me! Let me! My Turn!”

Political spin: If only we could get this table cleared, we could play Candyland, but oh, woe, it’s just so much work. Put hand on head as if to swoon. “Help!” said with an overly dramatic helpless Southern accent, “What ever will I do?” “I’ll help Mom.” Says my son. “Help Mom.” Says my toddler.

And when they are engaged in a truly lethal action, like fencing on the pool table with the pool cues, I pull out the “NO!” that sounds vaguely possessed and is loud enough to shake the foundation of our home.

Oddly enough, they bug out fast to this sort of thing. Wonder if Parents magazine would be interested in my discipline tips for toddlers?


Christine said...

I read an article once about telling your kids they can't have everything in the store. Their assumption was that your kids were having a hissy about it.

And their advice was, take them out to the mall and discuss it calmly, for as long as it takes.

The self-satisfied mom in the article spent 45 minutes sitting near a water fountain, telling her kid why she couldn't take home an entire KB Toys store.

Isn't she a great mom?

Hee. All I could think was, "And what are the rest of my kids doing, while I'm bullshitting with the greedy one?

I like "NO." It's pithy.

momo said...

the people who write those lists have kids who turn into serial killers.

robkroese said...

You need to wake your 2 year old up and tell her, "Good job on the sleeping!"

I should write for a parenting magazine.

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