everyone in my family thinks i'm too strict with kayla. i guess in some ways, they're sort of right but i have my reasons. i'm a firm believer that if you start early at teaching acceptable behavior and setting boundaries, you're less likely to have behavioral issues later on.... except when they're teens - at that point, you're better off running for the hills, cowering in fear.
around 14 months, when kayla began to understand basic (verbal) instructions, i started setting boundaries. no hitting, no pushing, no head-butting (yes, she did this too), no throwing toys, no kicking. although i knew it was a right of passage that every toddler must go through, i wanted to teach her about acceptable behaviour. during that time, i never established "punishment" in the form of time-outs because i knew she was too young to understand the concept; instead, i would show her by (gently) holding her hands to her sides and saying "no, that hurts. no hitting/biting/kicking" etc. it wasn't until she was just over 2 years old that i established time-outs and The Countdown; i use it to this day. kayla gets a warning (counting to three) and if she continues, it's time-out. if she continues to be cheeky during time-out, another minute is tacked on with a favorite privilege taken away for the day. if she hits or bites, there's no warning (except for a "ohnoyoudidnt" look), it's an automatic time-out and a privilege taken away.
i'll also admit that kayla crying when she's being disciplined doesn't phase me in the least. call me tiger mother or whatever, but if kayla does something wrong (and she's old enough to know when she's misbehaved), she can cry as hard or as long as she wants, she will still get a privlege taken away and will sit in time-out until time-out is over. kayla's tried some wet-noodle tactics on me in an attempt to change my mind about a time-out - which means going all limp and falling/flailing on the floor - however, i will pick her up and bring her to time-out with a stern warning that any movement on her part will result in her [insert favorite toy here] being taken away. her favorite things will continue to be taken away if she continues. i make it clear that if all of her favorite things get taken away, it was because she was misbehaving.
sounds harsh, right? perhaps.
although i feel like a mean mommy after she's apologized for being silly and politely asks me for her stuff back (and i say no), i know i have to stick to my guns because children must learn actions and consequences in order to learn about boundaries and grow into respectful adults. and it doesn't matter where where we are - the mall, at a restaurant, at someone's house - a time-out is a time-out. i'm not embarassed to have kayla sit by the wall in the corner at a mall in time-out, wailing the entire time as people walk by and cast judgemental looks my way. she must wait until her 3 mintues is up before she can even move. before you judge me, know that because of this, kayla rarely acts up when we're out. i know she's a kid and of course she has her moments but because i've always been consistent with discipline, she's fully aware of what is acceptable vs. unacceptable behavour and that i always follow through so her antics are usually short-lived.
kayla can walk into a toy store, see a bunch of things she wants - asks and i say no - and walks right out without having a meltdown. in many cases, she'll ask to hold whatever toy she likes as we walk throughout the store but as we're leaving, i'll ask her to put down the toy and she'll place it on a shelf, wave goodbye to it and leave without making a fuss, without whining or crying.
if she's playing somewhere or with something and we have to go, she'll stop what she's doing and gets ready to leave without throwing a tantrum.
this certainly isn't saying kayla's a perfect kid. she has her moments when all she does is cry and freak out but that's usually because she's tired, hungry or both. in some cases, it's because she really is pissed so i take these things into consideration however, i never falter at discipline if she's done something that she knows is wrong. she's still learning and i know this. she will always test limits; this i know as well. but i believe that it's my job to keep those boundaries consistent or she'll never learn what is right from wrong.
kayla is getting better at using her manners and these days, she's trying to exert her independence but adding a touch of cheekiness and a bit of attitude, which we're working on. however, kayla isn't the only one that's learning along the way; i'm learning too - how to be a good parent, how to be a strong parent but more importantly, how to be a fair parent; something that i'm not sure can be mastered.
...and of course, after i wrote this, kayla has the mother of all tantrums to prove me wrong .... go figure.