Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Discipline for a 3 year old.

My friend Karen has inspired me to write about what has been working for me in the discipline department lately. First I will tell you just how bad it was. Jesse had been throwing more and more fits recently. I was trying to do time outs, but they were just getting harder and harder.

This is basically what was happening: Jesse would do something like take a toy from Leo and I would say no and take it away and he would start huffing and puffing. He would start growling and just act as angry as he possibly could and I would tell him to settle down and stop behaving like that or he would have a time out. He would start screaming and running from me so I would grab him and try to make him stay in one spot for time out. This was getting more and more impossible. If I put him in his room he would not stay or he would try to destroy things. If I took a favorite toy away he would completely flip out. It was so hard not to get angry and when I did I would sometimes spank him. Although I don't think this is a terrible thing, I know it's not good and I know it never helped the situation.

So, after a lot of thinking and talking about all this and some tears for the way I had been acting, I came up with a new approach.

When an incident occurs, taking a toy or whatever, I intervene of course and briefly explain why whatever is not allowed. I do this calmly without emotion! If they can't stop fighting over something I will take it away if that is the only solution. Then the incident is over. If Jesse throws a fit that's his business. I tell him calmly that when he wants to talk or play nicely to let me know and then I go about my business.

The first few days he really threw some impressive fits and tried his hardest to engage me in it. He would try to get me to talk/argue with him. I didn't want to just be completely ignoring him so after a while I would answer him briefly and calmly and tell him that was my answer and I was not going to talk about it anymore. And again tell him to let me know when he wanted to calm down and talk or play nicely. Then I went back to whatever I was doing. If he wanted to push or pull at me I would tell him not to and go walk around, cleaning seemed like a good thing to do because I clearly had something I was doing not simply trying to get away from him :)

His first couple tantrums went on long enough that we went through this routine a few times. It didn't take long for him to see that he got nothing from it and the quicker he settled down, the quicker we could do something fun again. This has been so amazing for both of us and of course makes the house more pleasant for everyone.

Whew, that was a long post.

I tried getting a picture of Jesse and I being happy together before he went to bed and this was the best I got. At least one of us was happy ;)



Mimi-n-Moe's Mom said...

wow! good stuff! think you can move in?? :)

adrienne said...

Maybe this will motivate me to clean.

Maggie said...

Ha ha!
Let me know if anyone tries this. I would love to hear how it goes!

sara said...

gonna try it!!! thanks for the tips!

Francie said...

You are indeed a wise momma, Maggie!

My wee one is really starting the tantrum phase. I am amazed how much less it bothers me than it has with her older sibs. First time around I was very likely to tantrum right along with my child -- ha ha! But your method of "then the incident is over" sounds reminiscent of the 1-2-3 Magic strategy (They might get consequences like time-outs, but the parents should not drag out the problem with ongoing lectures.) I am aware that sometimes I don't let the incident just be over! Ha! I'm thankful that I'm not getting lectured all the time for my mistakes -- I sure do make plenty of them.

I guess in order to keep things in balance I point out to my kids a lot that Mommy makes mistakes. Especially b/c 6-yr-old Oliver has had phases of really getting stuck on being the "bad boy." If he has done something wrong to another child, he often beats himself up emotionally, and I am aware that I need to model for him forgiving ourselves after we admit that we were doing something wrong -- or after we at least stop doing whatever was wrong. Ha! You said you wrote a long post. I enjoyed reading every bit of it, especially since I had only seen your blog once or twice before. Thanks for posting & keep it up! (As a non-blogger, you cool Mommas make me consider whether I should indeed start one.)