Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm Supposed to Know

In a couple more weeks, I'll be graduating with my bachelor's in Elementary Education, along with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education.  That part is absolutely thrilling, can't come soon enough!  But that's not the point of this post.  The point of this post is for me to tell you that my (not-quite) two-year-old is giving me a run for my money!  I feel a bit like the auto-mechanic who can't fix her own car or the computer tech who can't fix his own hard drive lately.  Caring for and disciplining young children is what I do.  In some form or another, it's what I've always done.  I know children naturally give their parents more grief than they give others.  I know they test their limits at home more than any other place but wow...I never imagined being the parent of a toddler would be this challenging at times! 

Our son is still the most precious and adorable bundle of joy I've ever laid eyes on but he is going through a n.a.u.g.h.t.y phase right now.  When he was a baby, my younger sister said, "He's got a dimple.  You know toddlers with dimples are always making trouble, right?"  I wasn't expecting her to be correct quite so soon!  His behavior is especially challenging for me because, in his typical all-boy style, he seems to actually enjoy getting into trouble.  For example, he knows he's not supposed to eat crayons and yet every time we give him one, he puts it up to his mouth and grins mischievously.  When I take the crayons away, he laughs.  Given that, it's clear that the best plan of attack would be for me to ignore the unwanted behavior.  That does work some of the time, but then he will intentionally do things he knows I can't ignore, such as standing up in his chair at the dinner table.  The other night he was doing that and when I asked him to, "sit down or get down," he looked at me, grinned, and raised both of his little hands into the air.  OK seriously??  It was all I could do not to burst out laughing but of course I had to maintain my composure.

I've been reading about discipline lately and I have found some techniques (more rules of thumb really) that I'd like to try to implement.  The two that come to mind are, "The three C's - calm, caring and consistent" as well as the "90:10 ratio," which states that interactions with your child should be 90 parts positive and 10 parts negative or better.  The thing is...these articles do not say anything I don't already know.  My experience with theories is that they work wonderfully in a book, with the ideal child in mind.  In practice, however, things are a bit more complicated.  Interactions with real children are often more complex than the books can portray.  It's frustrating to read or know something, then try it out and end up with a different outcome than you expected.

Consistency between caregivers is the other huge factor.  For the most part, Michael and I do pretty well in this department; however, our little smarty has already figured out which parent to ask for which item.  He knows, for example, that Daddy is more likely to turn on the TV than Mommy, or that Mommy is more likely to let him practice flushing the potty than Daddy.  Did I mention he's not even two yet?  He is definitely socially motivated.  He picks up on our moods and our tones of voice quickly, probably even more so than we realize.  He also dislikes being separated or withdrawn from others.  These are things I'm trying to fit into the grand schema of our disciplinary plan for him.  We're still navigating the waters and figuring it all out one day at a time but I'm trying to get it together. 

In writing this post, I've just come up with the idea that I should try to think of myself as a parent in my classroom.  What advice would i give myself if I could be on the outside?  Hmmm...that's going to require more thought on my part but it's an interesting idea.  For now, I think it also bears mentioning that as naughty as he can be, our little one is also still quite sweet.  Every time I cough or sneeze he says, "besh ooo Mommy" and just about melts my heart.  It's all really about balancing between and navigating the (often abrupt) changes in his demeanor.  He's definitely a smart, strong-willed, funny, strong, sweet little boy.  The key is  helping him (which will inadvertently help us) to become the best he can be.  A tall order but I'm trying...





Tracey... said...

We are in the same boat....Sam is in a naughty phase too....does the naughty and smile....I'm with you girl. Not sure if you want the suggestion...I tell Sam...if you do it again I take it away....and I do and then later when he gets the thing back I remind him that is he does the naughty I'll take it away.....and he remembers and it works a lot of the time.

Anonymous said...

See, from where I am standing, you've got it easy (not really, but you know). Riley is doing the same things, only instead of grinning when I take the crayons away, I get a swing towards the face and red-faced screaming at the top of her lungs for 15 minutes. We're working on it.

I don't have advice other that I need some.


alicia said...

ohh we are soo here!! i try to remind myself of the CRAZY amount of learning and self shaping they are doing right now. I tell myself she is not purposely pushing my buttons (most of the time!) she is just figuring out herself and boundaries and what not. patience....oh I could use some more :)

this all sounds like good advice to me! i like the 90:10 thing, I will think about that more :)

good luck!! 2's are fun :)

M's mama said...

miraculously my own-- i'm strangely comforted to read that i'm not the only one getting "beat up" by my baby!

Kelly said...

OH I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!! Two was not bad for our little one, but three...OMG! I did not sign up for this!! Hang in there momma, you're doing a great job! (I will pray for you too!)

hope548 said...

I remember my kiddo going through a very naughty phase around that age. They come and go as you work on your discipline techniques. In our house, the naughty phases usually coincide with me relaxing on discipline. I read a book that I've used quite a bit and it really does work. Here is the link to it on Amazon:

One of the best techniques we use is short time-outs. He goes to time-out (any corner in our house) for certain types of behavior, but only for about 10 or 15 seconds. Then when he comes out, we explain to him why he was in time out and give him an affirming hug. It's been effective with him, but I'm sure it wouldn't work with all kids. I just like that the book says that all that's necessary is a short time out to re-set their thinking.

Anyway, you will figure out the best way to discipline for your son. And just as you start to feel like mom of the year, he'll challenge you again. Good luck!!

Richele said...

We are all full-up on naughty in these parts, too! I'm glad to read that you're at least supposed to know ... because I know nothing!

We do short time outs, removal of object (oh, you should see my garage because I just open the door and throw whatever out ... toys, crayons, plates, whatever.), lots of kissing, hugs, and saying sorry. I just have to remind myself ... they are only two, they are only two ... this is normal.

I also find myself being regularly thankful that Jess hasn't entered into the naughty (yet) because these boys are doing me in!

Rebekah said...

You are doing beautifully, M. This journey is so learn-as-you-go, isn't it? Keep leading with a blend of your heart, head, and gut and you won't go wrong.

Congratulations on graduation. I'm so proud of you! I KNOW how difficult finishing is while being a parent. I'm about pulling my hair out as I finish my MBA. Only five more months....

REVEL in your new found time! :)

happymomof2 said...

Okay, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for writing this post:) I am right there with you! I have my degree in Early Childhood Education and Early Elementary Edu. however when it comes to my son, he is a HANDFUL. My hubby of course looks to me because of my education however I don't know everything and wow my son is proving that. My hubby is often asking me if something is wrong with our son, because if there is it would be easier to understand. I tell him no he is just a very energetic boy- and that is the bottom line he is a BOY! He knows how to push our buttons and often does. My daughter is and angel compared to him- although now that she has hit 5 yrs of age the ATTITUDE is coming out- WOW-WEE!
Nothing and I mean NOTHING fazes my son. We did go out and get a book about Raising Boys and after reading the first couple pages I showed my hubby that our son is a normal BOY! LOL!
THINKING of you!

Meeghan said...

I have been feeling the exact same way but with a 5 yr old. I actually wrote a post about it this morning and referrenced your post (hope thats okay :) Just take it a day at a time...your doing great!!

Congrats on being almost done!!! Great job

Jamie said...

oh melba ~ as you can see from all the comments you are SOOO not alone! :) as comforting as that is, it probably doesn't help in the midst of the naughtiness when you're about ready to pull you're hair out! :)i can completely relate and our little one has finally hit the stage of taking a swing when he doesn't get his way (like bri's post). time-outs don't work for us....i usually end up telling him if he does that one more time his (truck, crayons, etc) goes bye bye and of course then i have to follow through.
like you said everything is theory sounds WONDERFUL and you think (before you have children) "THIS is how my child is going to behave" all goes out the window when that child comes to you and actually has his/her OWN ideas about it all! haha! :)
my dad once asked me what i was most surprised about regarding motherhood....i told him 1) how deeply i could love another human being 2) how shocked i was that m had his own ideas on how things should go that are so different from mine! ;)
hang in there!! thankfully it's a phase! :)

Anonymous said...

We're there too! The terrible 2's are exactly what they're decribed as.

Debbie said...

Feel free to post a lot more on this topic. While it took me a month to finally read it I appreciate hearing how others, especially the professionals, do it.
I like the 3 C's and will have to remember those.
Shortly before Isabel turned 3 she started plating one of us against the other. You know ask one parent, they say no so you ask the other. Thankfully she hasn't learned to do this in the other room yet. But I had no idea that started this young.