Sunday, January 17, 2010

Purposeful Parenting: Discipling a 2-year old.

Since before having children, my husband and I have discussed our desire to be purposeful in our parenting style. Each decision, from what our children eat to where our children play, is decided with a purpose in mind. Our greatest purpose is to raise our child to be a disciplined and loving human being. But breaking that purpose down into smaller steps is difficult.

These blog entries are a way for me to think through my parenting decisions with purpose and to document these decisions for our children to use one day, if they wish, when they raise their own children.
Little Bear is now 2.  Things have changed some since I last wrote about it in June.  Little Bear is six months older.  His language skills and understanding of the world has matured.  And Baby Bear is now a part of our family.

The main thing we are working with Little Bear on is compliance.  He has started to really understand our requests.  So, we are giving him opportunities to listen to our requests and accomplish them.  This helps him understand language as well as feel successful.  It helps us know that when we ask for something, he will respect us and obey.

We are still using his hand to spank.  And we spank only for willful disobedience.  We used to spank only after a stern warning of "no" (as in "No touch" or "Do not get up on that couch.")  Now that his receptive hearing comprehension has increased, we now spank for failure to comply with positive commands such as "Come here" or "Take this to your room."

We are ok with Time Outs to discipline, although we have not spent much time using it with Little Bear so he doesn't seem to really understand these yet.  But, we have found the mere spanking of his hand is enough with no need to do more.  Once we see this is not working, we will begin to better implement the Time Out.  It seems Little Bear responds best to disapprove as well as quick pain.  He rarely cries when we spank and even puts his hand out to be spanked, if he knew what he was doing was wrong.  Because of this, we typically have to spank only once a day or less.

We are often heard saying, "Little Bear, Mommy needs you to come sit at the table.  Mommy doesn't want to spank but if you do not sit at the table, Mommy is going to have to spank."  If Little Bear does not move towards compliance, we will count: "1...2...3..."  We spank on what would be "4."

Some people might say counting to three should not be necessary - children should be told once and that is it.  However, my educational training taught me that children need 3 seconds to process the verbal information they are given.  Therefore, we give Little Bear enough time to process the information so that we can feel confident that the discipline is just.

We have also discovered the magic of egg timers!  What a fabulous way to move Little Bear through transitions - from play time to bath time - from nap time to awake time (he is truly a little Bear after nap time).  He calls them "beep beeps" and responds well to the forewarning that his life is being changed on him.  His compliance has completely increased with these egg timers with little or no need for spanking.  Typically, he enjoys listening to the sound and is happy to accept what the "beep beep" means.

One of the other things we are working on with Little Bear is respect.  We are teaching him to say, "Yes, ma'm," "No, ma'm," "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" when responding to adults.  We also encourage him to refer to them as "Miss/Mrs. [first name]" and "Mr. [first name]" as a way to show the adult respect.  Besides the fact that we feel this is polite, we hope this helps him subconsciously view the adult as being different than himself: He is the child.  He is to be submissive to the authority of the adult.  Our hope is this will serve him well when given commands by adults - but also when he fully understands his need to be submissive to and under the authority of God.

The last area of focus with discipling our 2 year old is with independence.  Little Bear has two stools at home that he uses to get up to do the things he wants: brush his teeth, help clean dishes, turn off lights, etc.  We are beginning to teach him to put on and off his clothes.  We are using the Montessori method to do this.  It seems to give him a great deal of confidence and excitement to be able to do things on his own.  We like knowing we are teaching him how to do things for himself.  As authors Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen say in their book, "Montessori from the Start": "Our to foster the child's self-formation into an independent being."

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