Monday, June 27, 2011

and so it begins...

We have hit that age where I can no longer excuse my child's misbehavior and disobedience by saying, "She doesn't know any better," or "She doesn't understand what I'm asking of her."  Believe me.  The girl knows AND understands more than we think and probably has for some time.
Caught dirty-handed: Is that a guilty face or what?
At this point, we are primarily using the timeout as our discipline method of choice.

Here's our 10-step outline for discipline:
1. Lila commits a worthy offense (usually safety/boundary related things - standing on furniture, playing with outlets, running too far down the driveway, etc)
2. I decide if there is a natural consequence for her action (for instance, if she's not obeying me when we're outside, we have to come inside - this is cruel and unusual in her book)
3. If there's no logical natural consequence, then I pick her up and walk her to her room, explaining on the way that she did not obey and she needs to sit in her bed. (I know that a lot of people say the bed isn't a good timeout spot, but she seems to distinguish between sleep time and timeout so far - I take out all comfort objects, leave the light on and the door open so it doesn't feel like bed.)
4. I leave her in her bed for 30 seconds to a minute - occasionally 2-3 minutes but not often.  A minute usually does the trick.  I can tell because she's protesting (read, crying/yelling/whining/wailing).
5. After a minute or so, I walk in and ask if she's ready to talk.
6. If she says yes, I get her out of her crib and we sit on her rocking chair with her facing me.  I taught her that she has to look at me when I am explaining why she had a timeout and now I can feel her fixing her gaze on me as soon as I start lifting her out of her crib.  She looks right in my eyes and it's so earnest and sincere and contrite that it just about melts my heart.  If she doesn't say she's ready to talk (ignores me or says, "No!") she spends another minute (or as long as it takes) in her crib until she's ready to talk.
7.  I say, "Lila, I put you in your crib because you did not obey Mommy when I asked you to sit on your bottom on the couch.  It's not safe to stand on the couch.  You could fall off and get hurt.  When Mommy tells you to do something, you need to obey.  Okay?" (or something like that, of course depending on the offense)
8.  Usually she says, "Yeah." If not, I prompt her to say, "yes" to show she understands why I put her in timeout. (For all I know, she has no idea what I'm babbling on about, but someday she will, so we're teaching the habit of communicating understanding.)
9. I ask her to say sorry to whomever she hurt or disobeyed (she had to say sorry to the doggie the other day because she rammed her little cart into Franny and sent the poor pup scampering under the table).
10.  We give hugs and kisses and I tell her I love her because I want her to know that nothing she does will make me stop loving her.

We've definitely had our wins and our losses in this whole discipline adventure.  You know, sometimes I just can't keep a straight face when that little sinful nature bubbles up in petite defiance.  Like the time we were having our post timeout talk (she had been in timeout for taking off her diaper - something only mommy and daddy are allowed to do) and she looked me in the eye, grabbed the flaps of her diaper and ripped the snaps apart.  I was so taken off guard that I couldn't help but laugh!  Whoops.  Not the right message to communicate!

And then there are the times that I realize that the reason I put her in timeout was not really fair.  Like sometimes after a long day with Baby Ruby when I know she's just tired of sharing her mommy and the disobedience is mostly due to needing/wanting my attention.  Or when I push her nap time to run one more errand and she throws a fit in the store.  Or if we're out of her comfort zone and she's feeling anxious or bored.  Those are the moments I try to ask myself if her "tank" is empty, but sometimes I don't realize it until I've already punished her for being 18 months old and unable to cope with being tired and hungry AND not getting her way. (Golly, I can barely cope when I'm tired and hungry and not getting my way!)
Story time with Baby Ruby.  Soon after this seemingly angelic scene, Lila earned a timeout for refusing to give me the fork she had found and was wielding like a dagger a little too close to Ruby.
But in general, the timeout is working so far.  Thank God for an extroverted kid who considers it torture to be separated from people!  I really did not want to have to spank her (although I will if it's necessary - I'm not against the appropriate spanking).  And by working, I don't mean she doesn't ever commit the same offense again, I just mean she seems to be grasping that there are consequences to her actions.  And I think she's even beginning to understand the abstract concept of obedience.

The other day we were having our post timeout talk and as I was explaining to her why she got a timeout, she kept interrupting me saying "bay? bay? bay? bay?"  (I should explain that sometimes she'll try to distract me from her offense by pointing to things or suggesting activities.  But the deal is she has to look in my face and listen to what I'm saying, so usually when she tries to interrupt me I ignore her or refocus her to our discussion.)  This time, however, she was insistent, persistent, and determined to get her point across to me.  She got louder, "Bay! Bay! Bay!"  And finally I realized that she was saying, "Obey!"  As in, "I know what this is about!  This is about obeying!"  Yes!  And in that moment, I forgot all about what I was trying to explain to her and I just said, with a little bit of pride in my voice, "Yes, Lila.  You need to obey.  Okay?"

"Yeah.  'Bey!"

Isn't she just the best?


Katy said...

I loved that last part, too cute. She is the best and you are doing a great job! You are a good mommy, Kelsey, keep up the good work!

annaelyse said...

i giggled when you described her ripping off her diaper. well done little lj. well done. haha.

Jami Nato said...

Those naughty first borns!