39 posts categorized "Discipline"

Delayed Gratification equals Success: do you believe it?

September 29, 2014

My line of work brings me into contact with lots of schools, many of them charter schools or alternative schools.  One site visit last week brought me to a charter school in a low-income neighborhood, where the administrator stated a few times that the staff believes in the studies of delayed gratification where they result in better adult outcomes: more success in school, career and life.  

I had never heard of the "marshmallow experiment" wherein researchers presented children with a marshmallow, stating that - if they waited - they could have two marshmallows instead.  That was in 1972.  After following those same marshmallow kids, the ones that delayed their marshmallow desires to wait for the two marshmallow treat were the ones that got better grades.  AND: they dealt with stress better and they were less likely to be obese and on and on.

Having never heard of this study and having never really noticed my kids' abilities to delay gratification, I suddenly started to notice.  My teenager wolfed down some brownies the other day immediately when she got home from saying "Oh my god, I am so hungry."  My five-year old boy spied a new Matchbox car at the store, and when I said: "your birthday is in just a week; let's put this on your wish list!",  he burst into a tantrum unable to fathom waiting.

Does this mean they will be less likely to succeed when they grow up?  Should I be training them to withhold pleasure and delay gratification?


"He has trouble with transitions"

May 06, 2014

When I rang the doorbell at my son's friend's house, I immediately heard his screeching from the other side of the door.  The 2-hour playdate was culminating in fits of "I don't want to go!" and "Can't I just borrow this toy?", clutching at a light saber.  Apologetically, I said to the friend's mom: "He has trouble with transitions."

Again it happens when this same friend came to our house for a playdate.  The mom rang our doorbell, and my boy's response was identical: "No, I want him to stay forever!" and "I want to go home with him."

I apologized through the squirming and I talked through the screaming: "Thank you for coming over!"  The other mom understood.  And, most other parents do.  My child is not the only one who has "trouble with transitions".  Mostly, it's leaving friends' homes or having to watch a friend leave.  Often times, to ease the transition, there is some compromise bribe: "We have to leave now, but you can have extra lights-on time in bed tonight" or "He has to leave now, but you can have a little treat."  Transitions like leaving school are never very bad, although drop-offs tend to be clingy and sensitive.

Does your child have "trouble with transitions" and what does that mean for you?  What are the ways you deal with the transitions?  I don't feel wonderful about offering the "compromises" but maybe you have other great ideas for me?

The Intangible Reward: A Novelty

February 11, 2014

Yesterday morning, I received a call from the math teacher: "This is Mrs. Williams calling about your daughter."  I wasn't certain what would come next.  She went on to explain that the students participated in an intense math competition all last week, with team groups solving multi-step problems.  Our daughter's team won.  The prize: calls to the teammates' parents to recognize their efforts, accomplishments, and abilities in collaboration.

A sweet gesture.

I have been recently immersed with promoting carpooling, walking, taking transit to school.  To do so, our school has employed heavy incentive tactics.  Smoothies for kids that walk to school.  Coffee for parents who carpool (i.e., drop off 2 or more students in the school lot).  Pencils, stickers, iTunes gift cards, small toys, tokens for the arcade: the whole lot.

In our object-heavy lives, it is a breath of fresh air to receive that intangible reward.  So: Thank you, Mrs. Williams, for that reminder and for the recognition.

How to be a Proper Play-Date Host

August 02, 2013

My preschooler, now in summer session with limited daycare, is fully on the play-date circuit.  With new friends circling through the house and with him going to different friends' homes, I am noticing trends.  Little folks get possessive and territorial, it is hard to share!  This is normal, I realize, but I often run out of ways to mediate.  When we host, I let the boy know that he needs to put things away if he absolutely cannot share.  Everything else is fair game.

At his friend's house the other day, there was a squabble over a particularly shiny race car.  The host boy ran to his parent for assistance.  His parent said: "You're the host.  Let your friend play with it."  It wasn't the answer the boy was hoping to hear.

I've never used the comment: "Be a good host" with the connotation that he should let the other friend have the toy/turn.  Perhaps I'm not a good host.  What are the elements for our youngest folks, the preschool set, to be the "proper play date host"?

The battle I chose to lose: candy vs. road trip

February 22, 2012

"Pick your battles" is often shared as parenting advice.  As parents, it forces us to weigh pros and cons, it forces us to consider the lesser of two evils.  We probably do it every day, multiple times a day.  Sure, why not let them eat cake for breakfast!

Along those lines, I wanted to share my most recent decision.  We were on a family road trip over the long weekend, and we had already exhausted our toddler travel tips & tricks.  Well, what now?  Our toddler scanned our snack bag and found the bag of gummi bears.  I didn't hesitate much to hand over the whole bag, open up, and let him could consume it all while watching a video on one of our smart phones.

Continue reading "The battle I chose to lose: candy vs. road trip" »

Now, it's the French parents who are better, says one woman

February 06, 2012

I've had it up to here (the writer draws a line with her finger somewhere above her hairline) with the Wall Street Journal headlines proclaiming the superiority of one parenting style followed by an entire culture. You'd think the editorial team was on the payroll of a publishing house (the writer begs forgiveness for her snark). They're certainly not nuanced or creative when they come to writing headlines.

Continue reading "Now, it's the French parents who are better, says one woman" »

About arguments (this time, we're doing good!)

January 17, 2012

I know my oldest has years to go before he hits the teen years, but I've felt for a while now that his behavioral struggles give me a window into who he will be as a teen -- he's got all the talking-back chops and punky authority questioning that any self-respecting teen boy would. Lucky me: I get to practice conversing with a teenager years before my time!

Sometimes I agonize over this (mostly when someone else is overhearing me and Everett in a tense debate over privileges and responsibilities, speckled tightly with the occasional bit of bad language). But thanks to some new research from the University of Virginia, I could just go ahead and embrace it. These debates with me now and in his teens will help him resist peer pressure among his friends and stand up to problems on the job. In other words, our arguments are lessons. According to NPR:

"[In the] study, 157 13-year-olds were videotaped describing their biggest disagreement with their parents. The most common arguments were over grades, chores, money and friends. The tape was then played for both parent and teen...

"[The researcher, Joseph P.] Allen interviewed the teens again at ages 15 and 16. "The teens who learned to be calm and confident and persuasive with their parents acted the same way when they were with their peers," he says. They were able to confidently disagree, saying 'no' when offered alcohol or drugs. In fact, they were 40 percent more likely to say 'no' than kids who didn't argue with their parents.

"For other kids, it was an entirely different story. "They would back down right away," says Allen, saying they felt it pointless to argue with their parents. This kind of passivity was taken directly into peer groups, where these teens were more likely to acquiesce when offered drugs or alcohol."

How you argue is important. If you "reward" children who develop a persuasive argument, bargaining thoughtfully instead of using begging, whining, threats or insults, you will teach them how to not just get along with other teens (and to stay clear of dangerous problems like drugs and binge drinking), but how to successfully manage relationships as an adult -- even and eventually, marriage.

I was, for once, proud of my parenting skills -- something I tell the boys every (sometimes many times a) day is to use their problem solving abilities to come up with a solution that doesn't involve physical aggression or anger. Now, this doesn't work very well between the boys many days, but I often see the persuasive kid show up for a really great and -- often -- even courteous! -- debate with me or another adult. And that's something to be proud of.

Toddlers: throwing and dumping

September 19, 2011

"All done", he says, smile on [handsome] face and doing the hand flip back and forth.  The smile is a little mischievous.  Next thing you know, he is flipping his cup upside down, gleefully watching the milk stream to the floor.  "Uh-oh.  All wet!"

It happens rather often.  He likes to dump the cereal on the floor, flick tofu across the table, and watch liquid run down the legs of the table.  I could use cups with lids, but we tend to all use normal glasses when we sit down for meals, saving lidded cups for excursions.

Many times, I want to yell.  Few times, I do.  In the moments after the spill/dump/toss, I will take a deep breath.  This is a child.  Does he know not what he does?  Perhaps.  Is he testing my limits?  Indeed.  Will it exacerbate the situation and encourage repetition he elicits a furious response from me?  Probably.

But how the hell can I get him to stop dumping stuff on the floor?  Because I sure as hell am tired of mopping it all up (and as much as I give him the tools to "clean-up, clean-up, everybody do their share", it really isn't the best clean-up job.

Parenting Philosophies, Approaches: How did you decide?

April 01, 2011

When it comes to parenting, so much of it is "what feels right".  When our first daughter was born, it seemed that our approach to parenting was one that would distort our young-adult lifestyle as little as possible.  While we certainly adapted some of our interests and hobbies to her needs, we did not slow in our galavanting around town, gallery hopping, visiting with friends at happy hour, walking tours, hiking, adventuring, dining out, hosting rambunctious gatherings of friends.  She sort of went with our flow, always.  We were lucky that she was so easy going.  At the time, none of our friends had children of their own.  At the time, parenting felt organic and natural, though we had not read books on parenting philosophies per se.  It felt like parenting mean that we exposed our child to our lifestyle, and she would absorb it all.  We would model, and she would follow.

By the time we had our second daughter, we were making more friends with children.  Perhaps due pressure to subscribe to a parenting philosophy and perhaps with the proliferation of websites like our own where we could discuss every minutia of parenting to such a fine degree of detail, we began to try to gravitate toward  an approach, a discipline, a philosophy.  Our daughters went to Montessori preschools that we loved.  There, we were exposed to the Love and Logic approach, and it resonated.  Then, the girls went on to a public charter school, which is one of only a few schools nationwide to be a demonstration school in Positive Discipline, an parenting approach to new to us as new parents at the school.  Over time, we read the books, subscribed to the approach, and even attended workshops on the topic as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

When I was a child, my parents never went to any parenting workshops.  Now, I see on the urbanMamas exchange an assortment of parenting workshops and classes, featuring a variety of approaches and philosophies.  There are books and books; I can’t keep up with them.

A newer urbanMama recently asked me:

How do you find out about these parenting approaches, and how do you find the one that works for you?  Did you stumble upon them, sort of how I did, learning about approaches through our school communities?  Did you more deliberately research techniques and disciplines?

Homework: does your child have it? how do you handle?

February 08, 2011

After being tucked in at least 30 minutes prior, our 10-year old fifth grader scurried downstairs in a real hurry last Sunday night.  With a frantic look on her face, she held up a paper with about a dozen questions on it about Paul Revere.  "I was supposed to do this!  It's due tomorrow!"

I certainly know the feeling of having forgotten to do something and the feeling of needing to get something done right away.  I used a calm voice and demeanor, as I know just how stressed she was at that moment.  We tackled the questions together, I kind of prodded her along with leading questions.


Our fifth grader gets homework.  Our first grader does not.  We never really ask, "do you have any homework?"  We just know and assume and fully trust that it will get done.  And, it almost always does.  Thank goodness our school's teachers deliver only a moderate-to-mild dose of homework for any given night.  Some nights, there is not homework.  Lucky kids: I recall having at least two hours-worth of homework, every night, when I was growing up.

Have times changed?  Do your kids get a lot of homework?  I know every kid is different, but how do you handle homework in your home?  Does your child get it done even before they get home (I know some kids who do!)?  Does your child do it in a hurry at the breakfast table?  Do you do it together every night?

Things that make you go hmmm....: "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior"

January 18, 2011

When I first read the article "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior", I wasn't sure if it was a joke.  As an Asian American mama myself, I hated the stereotypes the article perpetuated.  I have since calmed, and I appreciated reading Amy Chua's response to readers.

When I was growing up, my parents decided what were acceptable extracurricular activities.  I had some independence (they did not necessarily prefer that I played soccer or basketball, but they allowed it), with the only expectation that I would do the best that I could (i.e. "excel") in any of my activities, from sports to academics.  I recall a memorable lecture from my father; the gist of it was "you will never be mediocre."  Luckily, I did pretty well and rose to the challenge.

Now that I am an adult, I cherish mediocrity.  Now that I am a parent, I find myself shirking from applying pressure on the kids.  "I don't want to practice the piano!" they say.  So, I respond, "Ok", shrugging shoulders.  My partner, however, does have the strict streak, even raising the voice to a stern-almost-scolding tone when insisting that they practice, practice, practice when they have already reached their limits.

"Eastern", "western" or not, the original article begs the questions: when it comes to extracurricular activities, are you strict with practicing until perfect?  When it comes to socializing, do you allow your children less latitude, in favor of academics and parent-selected activities?  Do you think there is value to applying rigidity, regimen, pressure and expectation in the kids' lives? Or, do you opt for the child-directed?  Leaving expectations self-set and pressure low or nonexistent?

Yelling at your kids

September 29, 2010

We love to hear from the rest of the mamas out there, and we particularly love to hear from urbanPapas.  An urbanPapa recently emailed:

As is becoming more common, our three-year old often ignores us when we ask him to stop doing something. The other night it happened when he was banging two tomatoes together (over the living room furniture/carpet). After a few quick requests from both parents, I yelled his name very loudly, which got his rapt attention. He was so stunned by the volume and looking up to see both parents unhappy that he became genuinely sad, got up, and went to sit on the bottom step of the stairs. I am pretty sure he was just going there to be alone and away from the situation, not to punish himself. As I have pondered the whole thing I keep thinking that while yelling certainly worked in the narrow context of not having tomato guts all over things, it was probably a failure as far as communication goes. 

It later came out that he had just discovered the little egg shaped maracas at a music class earlier in the day, where he had begun banging them together to get a double sound . . . so of course he was probably channeling that and meant no harm and doesn't know what happens when you bang together tomatoes . . . all adding up to more certainty that I did the wrong thing. Ay carumba.

What would you have done?  Now that you've yelled, now what?  What other communication techniques could you have pulled out of your mama/papa sleeves?  What other self-calming tricks would you have employed before ratcheting up the volume?

Mamas & Papas: do you get physical with discipline?

September 13, 2010

A recent Facebook thread of comments somehow became group sharing on our own parents' forms of corporal punishment.  Many of us had our own stories of being disciplined by "mother's helper", a paddle, a ladle.  Me?  My dad used a leather belt with a metal buckle.  He used to tell me to count to ten, one count for each lash of the belt on my bottom.  Once, I lost track counting.  He said, "What number?!"  I was frantic and I cried, "I don't KNOW!"  He yelled, "Start over!"


When I think back on those days, I cannot even remember what wrong I had done.  All I know is that I did something wrong and I should try to remember not to do it again.  Being the only girl of three, I did feel that I didn't bear the bulk of the brunt of the belt.  My brothers got it so much more.

I know we have all been there, when our own kids just. won't. listen.  Or, maybe they just. WON'T. MOVE. in your hurry to get out the door.  Perhaps even, they just. will. NOT. STOP. CRYING.  Throwing a tantrum. Begging for snacks. Whining. Fighting with the sibling. 

Continue reading "Mamas & Papas: do you get physical with discipline?" »

'Get calm, first': How to deal with teens, and the rest of 'em, too

August 16, 2010

The story on NPR this morning about the biology of teenage misbehavior led with something like an excuse for the kids -- it's the hormone's fault, and not just that even -- but the scenario laid out as an introduction felt very familiar. Sure, it was about hair spray and a new couch, nothing I'll probably have to deal with exactly (no girls here, for one). How should the mom deal with what was, it seemed, an escalation of conclusions jumped-to? "Get calm, first," said psychologist Laura Kastner. I'd missed it while listening to her piece, but that's the title of her book: Getting to Calm: Cool-headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens.

Is an eight-year-old a tween? How about a three-year-old? Because these are the strategies I use (and often kick myself for having forgotten to use) with my kids. Kastner says the arguments between parents and older children often resolve to "emotional flooding"; in other words, rational thought is frozen while we go black-and-white. I'm good. You're bad. In the example argument, both mother and daughter are explaining why they hold the position they do; daughter describing her rationale for hairspray on the couch, mom wondering why she didn't remember the "simple" instructions; both seeing their own position as inherently well-intentioned and, well, correct. When we attribute the best of intentions to our own actions, we're often, subconsciously, attributing the worst to those who act in conflict. Emotional flood ensues.

What to do? Remember: when we ask "what were they thinking?", answer with "nothing."

Continue reading "'Get calm, first': How to deal with teens, and the rest of 'em, too" »

Public Displays of Discipline: What Would You Have Done?

May 18, 2009

We surely have been frustrated with a child in public, and can understand the challenges with disciplining outside of the home.  Mary recently encountered the following scenario:

I was at PDX this afternoon, going into the restroom with my 18 month old, when I saw a woman standing outside of the restroom holding a big black belt.  Her older son, maybe 10, walked into the women's bathroom whereby she proceeded to walk into the handicap stall [to] tell him that if he didn't stop crying he was going to get it.  He didn't, and so she belted him, three times.  Since I was changing my son's diaper I was on the other side of the restroom.  I quickly went to where she was and told her to stop, that I was going to call security...She said that this was private (and she was yelling!) and I told her that clearly it was not, since the airport isn't a private place.  I was shaking, I was so angry and I was hoping that she was going to turn her abuse towards me because I was ready for it.  I felt so, so SO sorry for this boy.  I was nauseous and my adrenaline was pumping, I couldn't believe that I was witnessing this.  I'm curious, would others have intervened?  Did I do the right thing, or did I cross over into the protected territory of 'parenting the way we think is right?'  Should I actually have called security?  Child abuse is a crime, but is hitting him with a belt a crime?  I'd love to hear others' opinions.

Encouraging Good Behavior: Do Special Privileges Work?

April 30, 2009

Working on our own children's behavior is one thing, imagine the challenges of classroom management and what that entails.  One of our readers recently emailed us get your perspective on good behavior techniques that have worked in schools.  She writes:

Our school participates in the "Self Manager Program". Kids get lanyards for being self managers and get special privileges. This spring the privileges have extended to a party and eating lunch outside while the rest of the kids stay in. Our experience so far has been that the Kindergartners have no idea why they get to be Self Managers except that they are "good". The reasons seem to vary, sitting on the carpet without interrupting for 15 min or sitting properly on the carpet in general. It seems to me that at least this young, the kids get the lanyards based on their personalities, a quiet kid is always going to get the reward. The kids are very focused on the lanyard and not reasons they got in the first place. Some kids also get very anxious about losing the lanyard.

I feel like there must be a better way to encourage good behavior. Can't the kids all work together towards a common goal? We also have many kids getting time outs and sent to the office.

I am hoping to not get criticism for our current policy but to get ideas as to what works in your schools. Our school is a K-8 but I am sure there are different techniques that work for different ages. Help us out!

Bullying: When it happens at school

January 13, 2009

Recent conversations with some of the other parents revolve around instances of bullying at our school - on the playground, in the classroom, and beyond.  The bullying seems to be recurring, and cycles of exclusion continue to hurt other children's feelings.

In the classrooms, teachers lead talks with the students to help differentiate "bullying" from poor behavior, say, from having a bad day.  Bullying of intentional intimidating is different from when a child may unintentionally hurt the feelings of another, maybe when he is insensitive as he rushes past (or pushes) a child to make his way out of the classroom.

I have an awful story of when I was a bully to a schoolmate.  My mother made me invite her to my slumber party in the fifth grade, even if I wasn't too chummy with her.  The whole evening, I ridculed her for her size (she was overweight).  Later that evening, her presence irritated me so much that I asked her to leave my party, and it was the middle of the night!  I walked her to the door, pushed her out, and locked the door with her outside.  To this day, I am remorseful for my behavior.  It was inexcusable.  I have other stories of being bullied (including being physically injured) and being the bully, but this experience was a pretty poignant memory.

Bullying is real.  Has your child encountered a bully at his or her school?  Has your child exhibited characteristics of being a bully?  Do you have books or resources to recommend to learn more about and about how to handle bullying?  If you talk about, what is part of that conversation?

When strangers try to discipline

March 31, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a store and our 4-year old daughter happened to have a tantrum at the store.  I can't remember what set it off.  I only remember that it was a situation that led to her an inconsolable fit of crying.  I tried to do what I could to calmly calm her, but it was no good.  An older gentleman at the store, a portly fellow at least 6 feet tall, stood above my daughter and took his index finger out, and shook it at her.  All the while, he held a sort of sardonic smile on his face.  It was almost scary, even to me.  My daughter stopped her tantrum for a short while then resumed when the man stepped away.

In another instance, the other day, we were on the plane for our spring break getaway.  On the plane was a little fella maybe 2 or 3 years old.  He started to fuss and fuss and fuss upon take-off.  I do not personally think that children are annoyances on the plane, but another passenger couldn't stand the fuss.  He walked up to the child's seat and said sternly, "No, no, no.  No fussing!"

Finally, I'll mention another anecdote.  My 7-year old and I were picking up the 4-year old from dance class the other day.  The dance teacher put her face squarely up to my 7-year old.  The distance of her face from my daughter's face was almost uncomfortably close.  The sweet and pleasant dance teacher said, "Your sister tells me that you tease her at home!  Don't you know that big sisters are supposed to protect and care for their little sisters???"  It was clear she was trying to be nice, but that she was also trying to do some sort of almost-scold.  She smiled sweetly but cynically, and my 7-year old's face immediately became quite red.  I mean, she is already shy as it is, and she turned beet red.  I knew she felt awful inside and was so embarrassed.

When I was in 5th grade, I had a run-in with a girl at school.  She and I had some sort of quarrel.  I think it was about some boy who liked me and not her, and she was therefore never going to be my friend.  Anyway, she apparently went home and told her mother how much she disliked me, and her mother showed up at the school cafeteria the next day.  In front of all my friends and lots of other school children, she stood over me, telling me never to treat her daughter poorly.  I have no idea what she said really; all I can remember what this lady standing over me, shaking her index finger at me, making me feel like the smallest child in the universe.  To this day, my own mother regrets I ever had to live through that.  She never thought it was right that a grown adult would take a matter into her own adult hands, when it should have been the two peers to work it out.

I know this is lengthy.  What I want to know is this:  When do you think it is appropriate for an adult to reprimand a child?  When is it not?  Have you had instances when your child was reprimanded by an adult stranger?  Were you glad, sad, or mad about it?  Have you had instances when you have reprimanded a child you didn't know, but felt that the circumstances merited intervention? 

How to help a child deal with anger

March 14, 2008

Anger is a normal emotion, but the key is learning how to manage the feeling.  For our youngsters, it can be a hard lesson to learn.  Lesley is seeking your suggestions and perspective:

What do you do with your young child's frustration and anger?  I need creative ideas for appropriate expression of anger for my 3 1/2 year old son.  I let him know it's ok to be mad but not ok to throw things, hit, call names.  I always give him suggestions for things to do instead but he never takes to it.  So where can a little boy put that anger and frustration?  He talks really well so verbal expression is no problem, but I feel like a physical outlet might be good for him, if possible?

What worked?  What didn't?  What are some phrases we can use to redirect or suggest alternatives?

When Mama ain't happy...

February 06, 2008

I don't think anyone here will disagree with me when I say that parenting is an incredible joy.  We love these little people so much and they do so many things that make us proud.  But there is another side to that coin.  A neighbor of mine once shared this wisdom about parenting:  "They will make you feel all of your emotions stronger than you ever knew you could."  Among those emotions?  Anger.

It's a very visceral emotion, and it arises without much warning or forethought.  And it's really, really difficult for me to process these emotions, especially in confrontation with my child.  Things can go many ways but the end is never very pretty.  And neither one of us feels good about it.  I know this is difficult to talk about, but I also know I am not alone.  Another mother wrote to us:

I feel like I am in kind of a dark place in terms of parenting. I have caught myself in behaviors where I am yelling, really yelling, at my child. This might include throwing things (coats/cereal bowls etc) this might be spurned on by me asking my child to clear the cereal bowl or to brush his teeth. And when it doesn't happen my hot point is right there. Although I have not hit my child I can imagine how parents do it. I don't think I would hit my child. But I am not ok with where I am finding myself in terms of my temper and lack of patience.

I have several stress points in my life that are not negotiable; I am raising my son alone and don't have lots of support. My son has recently been on/off medication that amps him up- and in turn really stresses me out with his behavior. So I need to find some solutions within those constraints. To me this is not a conversation about being single. I am looking to other moms who also find themselves short-fused, short-tempered, and parenting in a way that that they are not happy with.

What do you do- how do you manage the anger & stress and get to a better place with your kids?

I think that, for me, it was very important for me to step back and realize that I had these feelings and frustrations, not only with the situation but with myself.  I wasn't happy with my own behavior... so I had to ask how I could change it.

Now, I'm not a single mother, but I am currently the single caregiver to my two kids (with much support from two grannies until daddy comes home).  I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be without their support.  Add to that some behavioral issues my 4.5 year old is having at school, and life is not getting any easier day to day.  After some looking around and reading up, I have turned to the Love and Logic approach.  Today is day 5 and I'm trying not to let myself relax back into my old ways (and this morning - it was really, really tough!).  But reading the philosophies helped me realize that there was a power struggle going on, and that my son needed to have control over SOME things in his life, or he'd be constantly trying to control everything.  That cycle had to stop.  That's where Love and Logic came in for us.

Have any of you Mamas or Papas had some wild success breaking the power struggle?  I, for one, felt very freed, and much happier with my child when we weren't angry at each other all the time.  How is a mama to get past the anger and become a happy Mama again.  What other techniques have worked besides just a parenting philosophy?  Sleep, diet, exercise?  I'd love to hear what other parents are doing to manage stress and anger.

Seeking good books on child development

November 07, 2007

Mamas, do you have a go-to book on child development?  Capella writes:

The last coupla times I've been at the library I've tried to find some good books on child development.  It's been 15 years since I read Erikson's books while in college & I know there's been a lot of theorizing since then on what's going on in those developing brains. Through the library catalog & their reference desk I always end up at the parenting section.  I'm not looking for a general pamphlet level "what to expect from your 2-year old" kind of book.  I'm looking for something that will give me some theory, some insight, some opinions, something to think about while I'm spending my days doing childcare.

Does anyone have any good suggestions--titles, authors?

How learn how to lose gracefully?

October 28, 2007

I'll be the first to admit, I like to win.  But, many-a-time, I'm a loser.  While many activities for our children are much less competitive than activities from our generation (very generally speaking),  we still value lessons learned from winning and losing.  Consider this:

I'm looking for some advice from other parents or relevant books I can read to help deal with some win/lose competition issues my sensitive 4-year-old son is having.  I know he's at an age that starts getting into kids' games where winning and losing is part of the game, so hopefully this is just a stage he's going through.  He takes games very seriously, gets very excited when things do go his way and work out the way he wants, and if they don't, he bursts into tears and is inconsolable for a while.  This is happening in the kids soccer class my son is taking now, which he loves, looks forward to each week, but typically he comes crying to me on the sidelines at least once every session.  Maybe they'll be playing a game of freeze tag and he's not able to tag someone when he's one of the "taggers", and he'll come crying to me all upset that he wasn't successful. Conversely, in a previous class he was able to tag a kid and freeze him and he talked about it excitedly for the rest of the day.  Another game they play is where the kids all try to catch the coach, who's kicking a soccer ball around and trying to escape the kids.  If my son isn't the one kid who catches the coach, he comes crying to me.  The coaches are great and downplay the concept of "winning" and "losing" and emphasize that they're all a team, and if one kid
succeeds they all do, they're all trying their best, etc.  So I don't fault the class or the coaches at
all, in fact they're great and always try to help my son get over his sadness quickly and move on. He really enjoys the majority of the class and says he doesn't want to stop going, and I don't think pulling him out of the class is going to help him.  I'd just like to help him develop some solutions to dealing with his feelings and emotions.

Continue reading "How learn how to lose gracefully?" »

I got the slap down

October 15, 2007

It's just past 9pm on Monday night, and I am just about ready to share my maniac Monday morning story with you.  Please tell me that my household is not the only crazy household at the 7 o'clock hour on a Monday morning.  Lunches, hair, socks, breakfast, milk, shoes - it's all a mess.  A big huge complete mess.  Some mornings, I feel terribly.  I raise my voice and I yell.  I know I shouldn't.  But, I can't really help it.  I don't think.

This Monday morning was not unlike all the other crazy Monday mornings before them.  Missing socks, slow-moving sleepy children, tangled hair, and weather-inappropriate clothing.  I just about had it.  My youngest [almost 4-year old] girl looked at me, opened her big eyes as wide as they could go, and screamed.  Just flat out screamed.  I mimicked the face she made me, and I screamed back at her.  I know.  It was big of me.  Then, she slapped me.  On the face.

Grrrr.....  it took a lot of all my maternal love and instincts to hold my hands back from slapping her back.  Really.  It did.  I wanted to cry, but not really.  I wasn't sad; I was mad.  "Pissed" is a better way to phrase it.

After she went to school with her daddy, my morning felt sour, tainted by our morning's fiasco.  When my little girl came home after school, she ran to me immediately and apologized, "I'm sorry for hitting you this morning."  I hugged her so tight, and I apologized too, "I'm sorry for screaming at you and making you angry."  We spent part of our dinner conversation talking about "appropriate use of body and language", a discussion that was prompted and led by our little girl.

Have you had altercations like this in your household?  What are ways to deal with it, in the immediate term but also in the longer term?  And, most importantly, are Monday mornings just as crazy in your household?

Let them eat cake and be cold!

September 24, 2007

"Give them choices you can live with and let them make those choices, so long as they doesn't pose danger to themselves or others."  I believe I picked this up at a free series of Love & Logic workshops we once attended at our former school.

Well, this morninCupcakeg, I let them eat cake.  I know, I know: bad mama!  Cake for breakfast?  But, hey, we had a big birthday party yesterday and I can't bear to have the cake go to waste (anyone want a piece of St. Cupcake 4-layer chocolate cake with buttercream frosting?).  My husband kept saying, "You're letting them eat cake for breakfast?"  Well, sure.  "It's probably not as bad for them as a cinnamon roll from the bakery..."  This cake probably has a little less sugar.  So, I gave them the choice: oatmeal or cake.  They chose cake.  No one is surprised.

I also took out a stack of fleeces and jackets and vests for them to choose their method of warmth for the grey fall morning.  Girl 1 chose a fleece sweatshirt and Girl 2  chose a cotton sweatshirt (on top of heGrey_dayr sleeveless short sundress).  I urged Girl 1 to also layer a fluffy vest and Girl 2 to also layer a jacket on top of their sweatshirts.  They refused.  I shivered a shiver for them each.  Both sockless, they hopped on the Xtracycle and we rode down to school.  A few minutes into the ride, I asked them, "Are you cold?"  They each said, "Well, sort of."  I said, "Do you think you should have worn thicker jackets or socks?"  They said emphatically, "NO!"

Tomorrow will be the same negotiation, I think.  We probably won't offer cake again, though.  How do you handle choices, especially, the fight over jackets, socks, hats, or gloves?  If my Girl 2 wants to wear sundresses with no tights or socks or shirts for the rest of the autumn and into winter, should I just say, "OK!  It's your choice!"??   

Tantrums & Meltdowns

August 21, 2007

Other urbanMamas have discussed before, could it be that three is more terrible that two?  It very well could be the case.  How has the number 3 fared for you?  Mary emails:

My son turned 3 this past week, and while I know that it is completely normal for kids this age to throw tantrums when they don't get their way (we here 'I want', 'I want' a LOT), my husband and I are having much frustration with the complete crying screaming meltdowns that have been happening lately.  I have been diligent about getting him snacks and meals at the appropriate times to ward off low blood sugar, but the tantrums continue to happen.  We have made the rule that he cannot have his milk until after he eats his meal (whatever time of day, breakfast, lunch, or dinner) because he fills up on milk and then refuses to eat anything.  Today before his normal lunch time, about 11am, he started in on the whining and crying asking for his milk (he had just had a snack of cheese at 10:15) so I fixed him his lunch early and told him that I would be happy to give him his milk after he ate his lunch.  Complete sobbing meltdown.  He wouldn't even sit on my lap and take a bite at all.  Finally he asked for a nap, so I took he and his sippy of water up to bed.  I feel awful about putting him down hungry, but I don't want to back down from our milk-after-eating rule because I know that is a slippery slope with the rules.  He cried for a bit after I put him down but did go to sleep (his usual nap time is 12:30, give or take a bit).  My typical mantra is 'this too shall pass' but I am quite frustrated!!  Any advice??

Unconditional Parenting Workshop

June 30, 2007

There have been a few discussions and requests on parenting classes as well as some discussion on "discipline" styles, choices, and other issues. Alfie Kohn, the author of eleven books on education, parenting, and human behavior, is having a workshop in Portland on July 24th on "Unconditional Parenting." Here is a description of the event as well as information on how to register:

UNCONDITIONAL PARENTING: Beyond Bribes and Threats

Tuesday, July 24th 6:30 - 8:30pm

Holiday Inn Portland, NE 2nd Ave. Portland, OR 97232

Advice for raising children typically comes in two flavors: threats (known euphemistically as “consequences”) and bribes (”positive reinforcement”).  Rewards and punishments are two sides of the same coin, and unfortunately, neither can buy anything more than temporary obedience.

This presentation, by the author of UNCONDITIONAL PARENTING, will show why carrots and sticks are not only ineffective but actually counterproductive over the long haul. To raise children who are good learners and good people requires us to abandon strategies that do things to kids, in favor of an approach in which we work with them. And underlying those “working with” strategies is the message that children do not have to earn our approval, that we love them not for what they do but just for who they are.

Cost is $5 per person. Space is limited, go to pdxparentingsupport.com for reservations.

Do you need a 'SuperNanny'?

March 08, 2007

Thanks to Liz for pointing out to us that SuperNanny is scouting for families in Oregon.  Think it's something that could benefit your family?  Apply on the ABC | SuperNanny website.

'Difficult' child, difficult parental relationships

January 18, 2007

When Everett was two, his tantrums (while oh-so-not-what-I-expected in the rosy months of pregnancy and infancy) seemed developmentally appropriate. I chatted with other mamas about our children's so-called "normal" behavior. Sure, he was on the energetic, stubborn end of the child spectrum, but I loved his spirit, and his hugs and loving words were indications to me that I had nothing to worry.

And then, he turned four. And then, he turned four-and-a-half. And slowly I began to think my child didn't seem so "normal" anymore. His tantrums, instead of lessening, worsened. Over the past few months they've been epic, earth-shattering. I've started to search for a label a little stronger than "energetic" and definitely not "spirited." (No. Oh no.) Whether that label is "ADHD" or "bipolar" (probably not, but sometimes...) or "defiant" (yuck) or, more kindly, "explosive/inflexible" -- well, something's going on. I should not be getting in screaming battles with my four-year-old about brushing his teeth.  He should not have such a well-developed and well-used repertoire of swearwords.

It's been hard on my husband and I, as we have different experiences with him (Everett's worst and most awful tantrums are saved for time alone with me, even though he professes to love me best and always apologizes, kissing and hugging and telling me how much he loves me, later) and, well, we have different approaches to parenthood. I'm a reader, he's a "didn't it work for 1000s of years?" kind of guy. ("NO!" is my response.)

Anyway, we've been working through it as best we can, starting with a parenting class we'll take tonight, and following with more individual expert advice for both us and, perhaps, for Everett. The thing I fear most is that our problems are not so-called "normal," and I've seen many a relationship destroyed for more prosaic disagreements. Have you had a hard time negotiating discipline (whether or not your parenting picture is more or less normal), too? What's been your best relationship-saving strategy?

Love & Logic Workshop

January 09, 2007

The workshop last September experienced a great response, and it's back again.  The session will include a brief overview of Love and Logic (focusing on the 0-5 age group) with lots of time to walk through specific scenarios.  The session hopes to help take the ideas from the Love and Logic books and learning how to really put them into practice in day-to-day situations with kids.  Here are details:

Love & Logic Workshop
Thursday, January 18
6:30 to 8:00 PM
held at Growing Seeds North, 6501 NE MLK

  • Presenter: Tracey Johnson, LCSW
  • Cost: $15 person or $20 a couple
  • No child care will be provided/a parents only event
  • Please RSVP to Amy at Growing Seeds at amy@growingseeds.net by Friday Jan 12th
  • Sensory Integration Disorder: Support

    November 01, 2006

    Here's a question that arose from the original post Finding Preschools, Part 31 - Sensory Integration Disorder. Kirsten writes:

    Does anyone know of any parent support groups for SID? Or a kindergarten option for a school which would be good for kids with SID? We are new to Portland, from Wisonsin, and are not very familiar with any elementary schools.

    Let's Get Physical

    July 20, 2006

    When I was a kid, I thought Olivia Newton John's song, "Let's Get Physical", was all about aerobics.  Didn't you?  Then we came to learn that expressing ourselves physcially comes in many different shapes and forms.  Sadie writes:

    i have a 21-month-old boy who is pretty easy on all counts. BUT.... (ha)...he has lately become somewhat of a hitter. he smacks people in their faces! i don't know what to do. it actually started when he was a bit smaller, and we used to laugh at it because, like everything little babies do, we thought it was cute. big mistake, obviously, because now he thinks it's funny. and clearly, saying "no" doesn't make a bit of difference. i am just confused as to where he learned this, since he doesn't watch tv and doesn't really hang out with other kids that much yet. and mostly i am looking for ideas on how to deal, and how to phase this phase OUT. do your babies hit? (again, he mostly does it to people's faces.) sigh...

    Siblings: Must they Rival?

    July 07, 2006

    I had it.  Bad.  Sibling rivalry was very much alive in my childhood household.  We got physical.  Often.

    Now that I have my two girls, I don't just don't know.  Is it normal?  Will even two saints of children encounter sibling rivalry?  What can we do to dissipate the aggression and frustration?  I try to stay calm, using a cool tone to repeat things like, "Respect your sister", when Philly tugs at Tati's hair just to annoy her or when Tati swats at her sister's face.  When one child is clearly in the wrong, I try to break it down for the one who's made the mistake, make her understand why what she did may be hurtful to the other.  I try to encourage apologies and kissing and making up.  But, will we ever have a fight-free day?

    Sometimes Philly says things like, "But you always let Tati do X or do Z," which makes me think, "am I favoring the younger one disproportionately?"  I am figuring that, to an extent, it's only natural to nurture the younger one more and for the older one to take more poignant note.

    This all mostly started when Tati was around 1.5 years old, when she started asserting herself, having an opinion, wanting things that her sister also wanted.  I started trying to have two of everything - two dollies, two strollers (well, I convinced Tati that the toy shopping cart actually doubles as a stroller), two balls for the yard, two identical backpacks, two fruit leathers at one time (a single fruit leather is pointless if both girls are present).  The 1:1 ratio is golden.

    Share your tips, please!  What are your golden rules, great phrases, that I can use when there is turmoil betwixt my two little princesses? 

    Of course, the most lovely thing about having a sibling is having an instant playmate.  Of late, the girls beg me to let them stay home all day so they can play.  I have no idea what they do upstairs, but they are increasingly spending more and more time in their imaginative play zones together.  As they get older, they are playing more and more together.

    But, still, they fight.  Sometimes.  And, it can get ugly.

    Help with Troublesome Tot Traits

    May 09, 2006

    Betsy is looking for insight from the urbanMamas:

    Of course my 21-month old son is an absolute ANGEL most of the time (really, he's a good kid). But we're having two problems I thought I'd see if I could get some input on. 1) Diaper changes are a nightmare of kicking and tantrumy screaming. This is a problem as I am pregnant and don't want random blows to my belly. I'd do stand-up changes but his BMs are often still, er, not conducive to a good cleanup unless he's lying down. Distractor toys, songs, books only work some of the time. Any other suggestions? What's the 'logical consequence' of not cooperating with a diaper change?

    2) Naptime has !poof! disappeared. He literally went from taking a three-hour nap one day to entering a phase - two weeks and counting - when he will not nap anymore. Our best nap so far in that time has been 1 hour. He has a pretty good routine - comes home from daycare at 12:30 and right up to bed, but it's not doing the trick anymore. He often can spend up to an hour or more hanging out in his crib *not* napping (but not crying), and sometimes he'll fall asleep eventually, and sometimes he'll start crying and make it clear that it's hopeless. By the time we give up, the afternoon is gone. Should I move naptime back, or give in and start skipping it and move bedtime up? (I should add that when he doesn't nap, the last two hours of the waking day are loooong with tantrums and rubbed eyes, etc., so I think he NEEDS them, he just won't take them).


    February 16, 2006

    Now that my son is definitely a toddler and no longer a baby, I am learning about the fine politics of parenting. Nobody tells you about this oh-so-delicate part of being a parent when you are pregnant; you're too busy reading Fit Pregnancy and enamored with the little bean in your belly. When they are babies, you're so in love with this human being you've created and too busy trying to keep them alive. Then all of a sudden they are toddlers and BAM! What the...? Who IS this creature and how is he so unbelievably lovely and fun and yet crazy and uncontrollable at the same time? Now he is actually playing and not just parallel playing. Now you not only have to deal with your own kid, but the actions and words of the kids they now play with--and their parents.

    I posted about my own parenting style on my From Maternity to Madness blog, but now everytime we go anywhere, I have to deal with the parenting styles of others, much like Monica did recently at Washington Park. This is along the same vein, because I'm not quite sure what to do, whether it's my kid or another. Ethan used to be fine with kids taking toys away from his hands in public play spaces, but now he gets mad and puts a death grip on the toys he's playing with. Sometimes he throws something when another kid has either taken away a toy he was playing with or pushes him out of the way to play in the space he was playing in. When it's obviously his fault, I will intervene. When it's another kid, sometimes the other parent intervenes and makes the kid apologize, talks about sharing, etc. Sometimes there is no other parent in sight.

    How do you handle situations when another kid is biting, kicking, pushing, hoarding or taking toys away from your kid in a public play space? Do you say anything to the kid? Do you wait a bit to see if the parent will come and talk with his/her child? Sometimes it's the parent who (unbelievably to me) takes your kid off one toy to place his/her own kid on it. What do you do then?

    I'm new to the whole politics of parenting thing, and I know that our kids are all still learning about how to deal with their wants and needs and how to react appropriately, which makes flare ups inevitable. Any advice on how to handle situations when it's your child acting up or another kid being the bully? What is appropriate playground behavior and what is not? What is appropriate parent reaction, and what is not?

    Terrible Twos, Whiny Threes

    February 06, 2006

    I'm the first to admit that sometimes I don't know a thing about parenting - especially confronted with a whiny, non compliant toddler.  I remind myself - it's age appropriate, stand your ground, this ugly stage will soon pass.  But, why me, I ask myself.  Why am I cursed blessed with this horrible willful child?  This child who has taken to whining as his primary means of communication.  This child who tosses himself oh so dramatically on the ground in a fit of emotions when he doesn't get his way.  This child who particularly likes to act out in the company of others.  This child whose whining prompted another child to comment that his whining was *annoying*.  Yes, that's my child who I try to play off as if he is not my offspring - my semi-calm facade barely concealing my subconscious screaming.  Perhaps it's my lack of patience, but it seems my toddler seems to uphold the growing pains of each age milestone.  He was certainly a terrible two, and now that he's nearly three, he's reaching yet another ugly stage.  How do you curb the whining?  What's the best way to nip this in the bud?  This mama needs to know since I'm determined not to raise a brat.

    Some say patience is a virtue.

    January 05, 2006

    OK.  I need some help and a teensy bit of affirmation here.  The past couple of weeks have been fun and rambunctious, with all the festivities and all.  As Philly said to someone last Monday, "I stayed up til twelve the other night."  As an understandable result, sleeping routines and general temperments are challenged.  Extremely challenged.

    Every night from 7pm until 6am, I have to lie down with one or the other.  I am scratching backs, giving warm milk, nam-namming, negotiating, hushing, singing, or telling stories.  Once one girl's eyes are just about to close, the other will call out for me.  Raph will try to run to the rescue, and he'll be denied access.  "No!  I want Mommy!"  The almost-sleeping girl will wake up and cry.  The other one will cry, too, waiting for me.

    There are other pressures: not sharing, pulling hair, refusing to walk, refusing to bathe, wanting to stay up, throwing cheerios, asking me three consecutive times when I'm doing something else, wailing "Mommy!" as if everything was an emergency.  I am starting to crack.

    Yesterday, when Philly was whining about not wanting to take her lunch bag out of the car.  I told her, "I won't pack you a lunch tomorrow if you don't bring it into the kitchen."  When I say things like that, I try to keep my tone noncholant and matter-of-fact.  She started to wail: "Mommmmmyyyy!!!!" The whining continued.  It hurt my ears.  I yelled at her: "PHILLY!"  I followed with some general long grunting, moaning, and some low-level growling.  I needed to let out some steam verbally: "AAAAAAAAARRRRRHHHHHHHH!"  Philly stopped.  She said, "Mommy, you're scaring me."  Being as calm-voiced as I could, I said very, very sternly, "PHILLY.  Bring. your. lunch. bag. into. the. kitchen."  I honestly can't remember if she brought it in or if I did.

    Then, last night, Tati had her usual early morning wake-up.  She cried for me, I ran to her, I nursed her.  At some point, I tell her, "No more nam-nam."  She cried so hard!!!  "Mommy PLEASE!"  Her eyes looked at me so big and I felt like I was committing child abuse, but - still - I said, "NO MORE NAM-NAM."  We do this dance for a long while, all the while with her pleading, "Mommy!!!!  Just a li'l bit!  Nam-nam!  PLEASE!"  I think I did the same grunting growl last night.  I was so fed up!!!  I am so fed up.  This morning, Tati said to Raph, "Daddy, is Mama angry?"  Raph tried to explain how we need to sleep like big girls, no more nam-nam, go to bed with no crying.

    Today, I feel like a bad, bad mama.  For losing my patience and taking it out on them.  I know I need to give myself a time out.  I know that this, too, shall pass.  Children will be sleeping like saints soon, for 12 hours straight through the night.  Like the old days.  But, what I really want to know, is how can I best say to them, "I'm sorry for losing my temper" but also try to explain myself?

    Explosive, Fussy, Spirited, Or is it me??

    November 25, 2005

    I remember the first time my son "lost it."  It was in the car ride on the way home from a friends after Thanksgiving dinner.  Fast forward three years and here we are at Thanksgiving dinner again.  This time, the tantrums began early in the evening and continued until we packed everything up to leave.    Yes, most kids have tantrums and 3 year-olds are famous for them.  But, it just feels as though Jackson has more tantrum moments than calm moments.  I find myself tiptoeing around him at times, hoping that we'll make it through Trader Joe's, pre-school pickup, a playdate, a trip to the bank without a complete meltdown.  It is exhausting.

    Back when he was an infant, I had Sears' The Fussy Baby Book.  I think I found some of it helpful.  At least I knew that I wasn't the only one with a babe that needed to be held ALL the time and was a terrible napper.  But, maybe it was the new first baby syndrome and I didn't try putting him down enough. 

    Furing toddlerhood, I moved onto the Mary Sheedy Kurcinka book, Raising Your Spirited Child.  Having a 'spirited' child seemed like a good match for Jackson.  It seems like a positive angle on something that I'm sometimes not so positive about.  But, I didn't find enough in the book that  I could take and use in my interactions with Jackson. 

    Here we are at three and next to me is the most recent attempt at understanding my son's temperment, The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D.   The subtitle is, A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children.  Hmmm...that seems like a match.  A friend recommended the book and went out and bought it for me; we spent Thanksgiving together.  I'm game for trying something else.  I feel like I need some sort of road map for dealing with the non-stop explosions that occur over the just about anything and everything. 

    This morning I opted out of heading downtown with my husband and son to check out the parade because I just needed a break.  It made me sad that I did not want to spend time with my family.  I know that's normal; but, I wish that it wasn't because of the fact that I just didn't think I could deal with another meltdown over the way the ice cream sandwich was divided, or the grape was being offered, or the way the sock was on his foot, or the fact that my hair was wet, or because the play glasses were not staying on, or the way I played the mama deer, or because he couldn't fold the clothes the way he wanted to, or the way the mittens fit on his hands.. 

    Do other mamas feel this way at times?  What have you found that helps in these situations where tempers are flaring?  Any recommended reads?  Is it sensory overload, cognitive inflexibility; or, do I just need to ride out the 3's and hope for better times come 4? 

    To cry or not to cry?

    November 18, 2005

    The other day, Dr. Ferber appeared on The Early Show (*link to the video) to speak to some of the criticism he's gotten.  He attempted to clarify his Center's approaches and also clarify misconceptions of "crying it out".  I admit: I haven't read his book, "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems."  But, I have read a mainstream diluted interpretation "The Ferber Method demystified", complements of BabyCenter.com.

    We say that we "ferberized" both our girls.  Our older daughter, we tried the mainstream diluted Ferber recipe at around 7 months old.  It took 3 nights.  After those three excrutiating nights, I could do the whole bedtime routine (bath, book, nurse), then put her into her crib still awake, and she'd go down to sleep by herself.  For our younger daughter, we tried the method at around 13 months old.  It was trickier because the two girls share a room.  It pretty much worked in a few nights.

    So, it worked for us.  Did you ferberize?  It's not for everyone.  Maybe my girls are just sleepy-heads, just like me.

    Wise Words

    November 14, 2005

    Ah, isn’t language development precious?  That is until your dear son or daughter starts using inappropriate words.  Last week, as my son was playing, I heard him mumble something under his breath.  It sounded like “shtupid mama”.  Rather than reacting, I wanted to make sure that what I heard was correct.  Oftentimes, he will say something and it is incoherent and I’m unsure of the meaning.  Now highly tuned into his play, I waited to see if he would repeat what he said.  Not too long after, he said it again - “Shtupid”.  He said it in the context of frustration.  He was putting together some pieces of a toy and he couldn’t quite get them to fit together.  Having not yet encountered such a situation, I did what I felt was appropriate at the time.  I told my son that the word was unacceptable and that the next time he used it, he would get a “time out”.  Again, very soon after, he used the word again, and had his two minutes of standing in the corner.

    Looking back, my reaction probably was unacceptable with dealing with the situation for several reasons.  At a little over two and a half, he’s still probably a bit too young to understand bad words.  Right now, he’s just a sponge soaking in everything that is said, and imitating other kids and adults in his environment.  Also, the punishment I doled out was perhaps way too harsh.  For me, I like to use my “time outs” sparingly as a last resort.  Besides, I don’t think he really understood that he did anything wrong.

    The story continues.  The other day, I heard him repeat “stupid” several times over.  Rather than exacting threats to get him to stop, I decided to offer him some better choices for words to use in his moment of frustration.  “Honey, how about saying “oh dear” or “oh no” if you’re frustrated?” I told him.  “Oh dear.  Oh no. Oh dear.”  He recanted.  It was just the reaction I was hoping for.  I admit I’m learning this whole mama-thing as I go along, but this situation in particular reminds me that positively adjusting my approach means a world of difference in how my son reacts as well.