Discipline - Babies and Toddlers
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24
I have been trying to figure out over the last eight years the best way to discipline my children. Now that I have three, ranging from 2 through 7, it's really important that Stephen and I have a set way of discipline. Having structure, no matter what that structure may be is a necessary part of a child's life. They will thrive with structure.
Over the years we have used a few different forms of punishment/discipline. One of the first was counting until three. If we said the number three the child would then be appropriately disciplined.
This starts as young as an infant/toddler who is just beginning to stretch their limits and see where the boundaries lie. They will begin with throwing a toy off their high chair. The child throws the toy and someone picks it up. The third time is the limit in our house. Always has been and always will.
So what does it look like? Well in our home, we have a baby pen which we place in the middle of our living room which has lots and lots of their toys in it, but none of the easily broken items. We do not allow the toddler to climb out. If they throw toys out the "Rule of Three" is still followed. Older siblings are allowed to play in the area also, just not allowed to climb (so we don't give ideas to the younger ones.)
During this stage we use time out primarily. Stephen and I have tried other ways for disciplining at this age, but none seem quite as effective. So each year the child is old is how long their time out lasts. For instance, Seanan is 1 (almost 2) so he has been getting 1 minute. However, since his birthday is next month I have been increasing the time out a little bit at a time over the last 2-3 months so there won't be as much of a shock when he turns two and is now required to stand in the corner for 2 minutes.
In the beginning of administering time outs one of the parents would usually stand behind the child until they learn which corner (or corners) are the time out spots. Also since they are a toddler and they do have little attention spans the parent becomes a barrier disallowing the toddler to escape back to play before their punishment has elapsed. In our house we require our children to face the corner with their hands behind their backs. That way they are not "included" in whatever the family is doing at the time and they don't "play" with their hands. (My middle child has a great imagination and will begin telling stories from one hand to another so time out isn't as much of a deterrence for bad behavior.)
So after time out is completed we have Seanan come to whomever put him in time out. We then help him to look at us, directly, and remind him of the behavior or actions which were wrong and ask him to say sorry. If his behavior was hitting one of his sisters (which is an every day occurrence almost) then he is to go kiss them and tell them sorry for hitting.
The act of disciplining at this early age is more about training what behavior is acceptable and what behaviors are not acceptable. Next week I'll be writing about how we discipline the next stage, ages 3-4 ... preschoolers.
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