Dare to Discipline

So I come downstairs tonight after making it home from a visit with the Andersons. I have an armload of laundry as I make my way through the obstacle course that is my living room floor, catching glimpses of the dirty high-chairs in my kitchen. Gilbert's on the computer and this is his statement to me: "Kate, you're slacking on your blog these days." So, here I am, with clinched teeth, creating a new post.

Knox-sitting is going well. I've reached the end of week three and the boys have become like brothers in every sense of the word. In the last two weeks, Cole has chosen to take Tuesday and Thursday as his feisty days. Knox has taken Wednesday. Today I decided that I might like them to take the same day every once in a while so they'll start taking up for themselves. Today, Cole, believe or not, was "mean and rotten to the core," as my Mom used to say. I think he waited for Knox to start playing nicely on his own so he could come over and ruin it. Poor Knox would just look at him. I secretly hoped Knox would deck him a time or two, just to give him a taste of his own medicine.

To tell the truth, since they started behaving this way, I have really, really struggled with how to handle it. I guess I'm still struggling, but after talking to some ladies who have dealt with boys of their own, I'm coming to terms with the idea that I must remember that they are boys and they are almost 17 months old. Just because they are behaving this way now doesn't necessarily mean that they will behave the same way as adults. I should also not feel the need to nip every single occurrence in the bud or fight every battle for them. So sometimes when they look at me for intersession, I just say, "You're gonna have to handle this one on your own." As long as no one is getting injured, I think it might be wise to let a few slide and teach them to stick up for themselves as well as they can. Bad idea? Got a better one? Your feedback is welcome, especially from you who have dealt with boys.

Cole is completely unresponsive to time-out these days. It used to make an impact. Not anymore. He used to sit in the corner, face the wall, and cry. Now he gets up, comes over to me, and calls my name as if to say nonchalantly, "Hey Mom. You forgot me in that corner over there, but don't worry. It's no big deal." So I've been putting him in my lap and sitting with him in the corner. When I do that, he puts that chin up and peeks at me and grins like I've just made up a new game, so I stare up at the ceiling and pin his arms to his sides, hoping at least for a whine of discomfort. Does this make me evil? Today we tried this after he hit Knox. When time was up, I turned him around, gave him a brief talking-to, told him to say sorry and hug his "opponent" (he does this eagerly every time, as if that's his favorite part). And, seriously, as soon as he released Knox from the hug, he smacked him in the head. I think time-out will be much easier when I can lock him in the basement without food or water for a couple of days. But seriously, when I can put him in his room to think about his behavior, I hope it will improve. Until then, is time-out worthless? Is it acceptable for me just sternly say NO every once in a while? I mean, if I used time-out for every incident, there would be a spot worn in the floor after a week. I will also say that I did spank once this week and was completely riddled with guilt and felt the need to beg for his forgiveness afterward. Is that what parents mean when they say, "This will hurt me more than it hurts you?" Keeping in mind that every kid, every parent, and every situation is different, I say again: ideas and feedback welcomed.

So seriously, things are going okay. Some bumpy spots, some definite eye-opening experiences for me (and probably for both boys) but overall, all's well. Thanks for letting me vent, and thanks in advance for your ideas.

Oh. Thought I'd share a picture of Cole's attempt at a hiding place when he has something Knox might want. As you can see, the hiding isn't usually a success.


Mandy said...

Oh Kate, I adore you and your honesty. I laughed while reading your story because I am very familiar with this kind of situation. Knox and Cole probably consider themselves brothers because they are with eachother so much. They fight but they also love on eachother (like brothers do). This is normal. But I think that when you have to hold Cole in timeout, then he is getting your attention. Since you say that this isn't working, you may try putting in in timeout by himself (like he used to do) and if he gets out, tell him that is not okay and put him right back in timeout and start the clock over again. Keep doing this and see how it works. Make sure he doesn't make a game out of it. And remeber, this is just a STAGE, he will outgrow it. He is a very precious little boy. And Knox is at HIS house, playing with HIS toys,and getting attention from HIS mommy. You are doing a GREAT job. Love you, Mandy

Scott Burton said...

Dealing with the litle ones can be tough. Ally is such a terror. She takes spells where she won't mind at all and totally terrorizes her brother and sister. Only advice I can give is be patient and consistent. Of course you can always watch that Nanny show on TV. She seems to have it all figured out?

Holly Cooper said...

You are doing a great job, Kate! Something fun they both can play. . . when T was nearing 2, one of his favorite things was an old paper towel roll. Tape a piece of wax paper on the end--instant kazoo! Once he figured out how to make the sound, he would crack himself up! Added bonus, the "music" wasn't annoying or high-pitched, and if he crunched it, no big deal. It might buy you a few minutes! :)

Mommy of Boys said...

Poor Kate! I can completely feel your pain. With two little boys, it is always hopping at our house. We decided a long time ago not to spank, so it's hard to think of other ways to punish.

Brad's big thing from his master's program is "logical consequences." This has worked really well at times and not as effective at other times. That's when you take away something based on what they did wrong...fighting with a sword, put the sword up. I don't know if that would work in any of your situations.

I think a time-out spot is good. They always use it on the Nanny shows. I agree with Mandy, you have to just keep doing it. And I also agree with her not to sit with him. He's getting attention, even if it's negative.

The main thing, which I think you said, is to be consistent.

Sorry this got to be so long!

Lee Fowlkes said...

Hannah is in that testing phase when you tell her not to do something, and she acts like she is going to do it again just to see what happens. I agree with previous comments about attention - the goal of time-out is to remove attention and just continuing to enforce the time-out. When it takes longer and longer to get out, eventually he will learn. Right now it is just a game and he may not recognize that it is a punishment. I am not against spanking on principle, but I know that the times we have used spanking, especially on Jaycie, it has been more out of frustration and anger than a premeditated attempt to teach her something. My parents were great about letting us know up front that certain behaviors would result in a spanking, and it wasn't out of anger. Not that I ever found out, of course...

And I am trying to imagine Ally being a terror.

Deaton, party of 5 said...

I have NO advice in this situation. I'm still trying to figure out what works with my 3 kids AND the children at preschool. Each child is SO different and responds different to each of the disciplines. I think discipline at Cole's age is especially HARD. I would find a way to "trap" the instigator--in a high chair or activity center. That's really the only way I can contain Miles these days and prevent further CHAOS/DESTRUCTION/ETC. It, however, does not divert his attention and he will go right back to his torturing once he is freed. Again, no advice. Like the others said, it's a stage and it, too, will pass. Don't feel guilty for the decisions you make--it's your job to decide what battles you're willing to deal with. Let the other ones slide and do another load of laundry.

Carla said...

I love reading your blogs. Even with an 11 and a 9, I am clueless some days on how to handle the differences of children. However next you place Cole in the corner instead of you sitting there holding him, which keeps you from doing what you may need to do, try putting him in his highchair in the corner. Its worth a try. Good LUCK.