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to be doubting my parenting skills? Too much discipline/going soft?

(56 Posts)
newmummytobe79 Fri 23-Nov-12 09:29:07

Sorry this is long and rambling! But I’m doubting myself after this morning sad

Since day one we’ve been pretty rigid but loving. Set bed times, routine etc and discipline is something we discussed before little one arrived. Baby is 14 months and does try it on quite often – throwing things, little tantrums, grabbing at faces etc and is pulled up firmly but fairly when these occasions occur.

DH usually gets home when I’m getting tired and cranky – and same for baby! I do shout a little and teach baby to pick up items that have been thrown in anger etc – so he mainly sees me disciplining, and sticks by my decisions. When he comes in baby turns back into angel child and just wants cuddles with daddy – rarely with me.

This morning DH was in a bad mood. Baby was playing up and he shouted when there was the usual highchair tantrum (doesn’t want to go in and pushes legs on the top so you have to struggle to push in!) – I said he didn’t need to shout so loud, baby has just woken up etc etc to which he shouts at me that it’s not my place to stop his disciplining as he sticks up for mine. I just thought he was taking his bad mood out on baby ... but I also know what a pain it is trying to cram baby into the highchair for breakfast!

I’m just wondering if I’m being too hard ... and if DH seeing my disciplining makes him think that’s what we should do all the time? He doesn’t get to see the daft games we play in the daytime when baby is giggling and the nice times we have reading books together.

Don’t get me wrong – he’s a fantastic dad, and is great at being the ‘fun’ one, but I’ve seen both sets of Grandparents roll their eyes slightly when I tell baby off for doing something I think is wrong/dangerous.

I just believe if I set rules now, it will pay off in the long run.

I struggled to bond at first and the rule setting/routines were easy for me as I felt slightly detached – but now I’m head over heels ... and wondering if my reaction to stick up for baby over DH’s discipline means I’m going a bit soft without realising it?

Is 14 months too young to discipline so much or is it a good thing?

And yes ... 1st baby! smile

MammaTJ Fri 23-Nov-12 09:44:59

Sticking to the rules that you make is important, though it can be tough if you feel you are the mean one.

It would be unkind to change your rules all the time and more than a little confusing.

Your child will push against the boudaries every now and again, just to check they are there. Once reassured that they are, things will settle down again.

Discipline though, as in what? Smack, time out? Too young for a few more months, I think.

cory Fri 23-Nov-12 09:54:41

I think your expectations are a bit high.

14 months to me would be a time when might I start showing him what he mustn't do, but wouldn't necessarily expect it to have much effect straightaway. Frankly, 14mo babies have the attention span of a gnat. If you tell him something now, even if you shout at him, he won't remember that and make it a rule for his behaviour the next day or even an hour later. At this period, you are in charge of keeping him safe; he is not.

You still have so much time. For me, 2 or even 3 would be the time to start being a bit more firm and expect them to remember what I'd told them.

Mine were older when I started expecting them to remember and getting cross when they didn't. They are well behaved teens and certainly not a danger to anyone.

newmummytobe79 Fri 23-Nov-12 09:55:13

Thanks MammaTJ

No - I don't smack baby and I don't think time out would be understood yet, more a firm telling off which is understood as head goes down/looks away/cries! Also removing items that are thrown or making baby pick them up and bring them back to me - which is then praised when they are returned to me.

newmummytobe79 Fri 23-Nov-12 09:56:49

Thanks Cory - although I do believe baby knows what is naughty as this 'look away from me and swing arms by side' has started - crafty monkey! grin

AlienRefluxLooksLikeSnow Fri 23-Nov-12 09:59:33

14 months sounds very young to me for discipline, mine is 18 months, and I do tell her no, that has the desired effect, but any more than that is too much. Shouting just scares them at that age. And mine always wants cuddles from Dad when he comes in but she hasn't seen him all day, she cuddles me in the day too.

newmummytobe79 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:06:13

I'm feeling really mean now ... and wonder if that's why I don't get many cuddles sad

So how do I deal with face scratching/throwing toys/stamping feet/tantrums if baby can't have something eg cake/magazines to rip up etc

No just doesn't cut it! sad

Journey Fri 23-Nov-12 10:10:39

Your baby is only 14 months old! He's a baby not a child.

I thought your thread was a wind up at first. No wonder his grandparents roll their eyes when you try to discipline your baby.

Your expectations are very unreaslistic. Enjoy your baby for being a baby. He is not a 3 year old child.

newmummytobe79 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:13:54

Journey - I do enjoy my baby. But seriously - would you just let a baby get away with scratching peoples faces until they bleed? And yes nails are cut often.

LiegeAndLief Fri 23-Nov-12 10:14:31

I definitely would not shout at a 14 month old. I try (occasionally unsuccessfully) not to shout at my 6yo! At that age my tactic would be, if he tries to do something dangerous or damaging like ripping things or scratching faces, to say no and move him away. He probably won't repsond to no at first, but I'd keep moving him and if it's something he's dead set on and keeps going back to then try to distract him.

14 months is very young to be remembering rules etc.

newmummytobe79 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:16:39

Ok - I shall go back to saying no ... often ... and see what happens!

newmummytobe79 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:18:22

Also - I'd just like to clarify I am not a screaming banshee all the time and do love my baby very much! smile

I just see so many brats around/mollycoddled kids that I don't want mine to be one of those!

izzyizin Fri 23-Nov-12 10:25:35

Omigod. You are 'disciplining' a baby? shock If you're like this with a dc, I dread to think what you'd be like with animals.

The cold and detached way in which you write about your baby doesn't give any impresssion that you have any love for him whatsoever and, rather than allowing him to express his unique personality, you appear to treat him as an object that has to fit in with your peculiar ideas about child raising.

Your expectations of a 14month old are unrealistic and you're best advised to make contact with your nearest Sure Start centre and entrol on a parenting course before you do irreparable pyschological damage to your child.

Btw, in common with Journey I thought this thread was wind up and, for the sake of a dc who may be being set up to fail from an early age, I'll live in hope that it is.

cory Fri 23-Nov-12 10:30:34

I think you have to accept that what you do to him now won't make any difference to whether he is a molly coddled brat when he is a few years old.

He won't remember and you will have to change your parenting again and again anyway as he grows and develops. I don't parent my 16yo in the same way as when she was 4. No point in parenting a 14mo because you have an idea of what you will want out of him when he's 3. Imo it's more about being aware of what is age appropriate expectations than thinking that if you get things right now that will set everything up forever. It won't. You have to keep adapting.

You don't let him get away with scratching faces: you just put him down or move him so he can't get at them.

Tantrums and foot-stamping don't do him any harm: let him scream away and don't give in to them and eventually he will work out that they don't get him anywhere.

If he breaks something or play with something he shouldn't, just take it away from him.

If something is not safe, then you make sure he can't get at it.

There are two possible approaches to children doing what they shouldn't:

One is making sure they are physically unable to.

The other is teaching them they musn't. And eventually, as they mature even more, trust to their ability to make good decisions.

When they are babies, the focus should be almost 100% on the first approach. As they grow and their sense and ability to remember develops, it should gradually move from the first to the second. Obviously, if I had to keep things locked up to keep my 16yo from swallowing them, I'd have serious problems. But the point is, what is right for her now was not right when she was a baby. My parenting then did not teach her the skills she needs now: that's what my parenting now does.

AutumnMadness Fri 23-Nov-12 10:31:11

newmummytobe79, sorry, but I agree with others that you expectations of a 14 month old are somewhat unrealistic. I seriously doubt that at 14 months children have much brain capacity developed to act in what adults describe as a civilised manner. And tantrums are really completely normal. If there was a recipe for stopping tantrums and turning toddlers into angels there would not be a million threads about them here. It's just a phase. It will surely pass.

*So how do I deal with face scratching/throwing toys/stamping feet/tantrums if baby can't have something eg cake/magazines to rip up etc*:
- Face scratching - gently remove toddler's hands, show toddler how to touch people nicely, praise for nice touching, in extreme circumstances just move yourself away.
- Throwing toys - let them be thrown. Toddler can retrieve them himself if he needs them. Make disapproving noises, but make approving ones when toddler is playing nicely.
- Stamping feet - what's the bother? Let him stamp. It's not like it's going to get him anywhere.
- Cake tantrum - just remove cake and wait for tantrum to pass (it can take a while, but like a raging storm, it will pass). In the future, eat cake yourself after toddler is in bed. It feel silly, but life is easier if cake does not come into toddler's line of vision.
- Magazines to rip - remove magazines.

Seriously, the toddler will tantrum and destroy property just by the nature of being a toddler. No point in twisting knickers about this. Discourage bad behaviour, encourage good behaviour, but don't expect it to work instantly. All the work will show months and even years down the line.

newmummytobe79 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:36:17

izzyizin I would like to let you know that I adore my baby who is my world and in the main a very happy and smiley child. Friends comment that mine is the happiest baby they know - so for me to be having a bad day and come on here for some advice and for you to write that is bloody stupid!

But I refuse to walk around with scratches all over my face - therefore will discipline and by discipline I mean a firm loud no. Not a beating with a bat like you are making out.

I also do not want my baby putting a hand in a fire. Therefore will ensure this doesn't happen.

I am not cold nor detached and spend hour upon hour playing with my baby and 99.9% of the time enjoy it - but I am human and sometimes it's tough. I do apologise for not being as perfect as you so obviously are.

The original question was really about me stopping my husband getting angry with baby - therefore I do have a heart shock horror

Your judgemental attitude is very hurtful and for you to suggest I may cause irreparable pyschological damage is just pathetic.

OxfordBags Fri 23-Nov-12 10:37:57

OP, he won't understand any type of discipline at that age. I'm afraid that all he will do is experience these attempts of yours as being mean to him. If he keeps thinking Mummy is sometimes randomly mean for no reason that he can tell, it will make him insecure. And it's insecurity that makes children play up and be naughty as they get older, because disciplining too early paradoxically makes them unable to judge what is right and wrong well, because their earliest experiences taught them that anything - as they experienced it - could get them told off. And it makes them clingy and it also teaches them that undesirable behaviour gets them attention. That's actually what creates mollycoddled brats, to use your terms (which I find offensive, poor kids). Basically, going in too strong too early will create the type of behaviour in a child that it's trying to prevent, IMO. A firm telling off means nothing to him at his age other than Mummy is upsetting him. His reactions you describe show that he is hurt by how you act, not that he is understanding he's done wrong or feeling remorse - he simply cannot feel those things yet.

It really upset me to read you describing some of his behaviour as 'trying it on'. That's making him sound like he's deliberately doing these thing for naughty motives when he's not. He has no mental or emotional capacities to 'try it on' at his age. He is just being a normal baby and doing what is normal for kids of his age. Throwing things, for example, is actually a very important developmental stage. He needs to be allowed to do this. I'm not saying it's not annoying for you, because I know it is, but you might find that if you just ease up and let him, he'll actually do it less because you're not making it 'forbidden fruit', as it were.

Babies love to touch faces; sadly, their poor motor skills mean that a touch can accidentally be a grab or scratch. You need to just calmly take his hand away and say 'be gentle' or words like that and make his hand gently touch your face or hand. He will eventually get this.

The best two pieces of advice I can offer would be these: ignore, ignore, ignore and distract. You can stip him doing something without telling him off. You an pick up his spoon when he keeps throwing it and not show a reaction. If he wants to keep grabbing your nose, for example, turn your hand into a duck beak and quack to distract him, or offer him a toy, anything like that. Don't place labels and judgements on his behaviour at this age (or any age).

The quicker he gets no reaction for undesirable behaviour, the quicker it will abate. And relax, OP! 14 months is waaaaaay too young for him to be disciplined in this manner. Too many parents ascribe levels of understanding and motive to children that are so far beyond their actual abilities and you're doing that here. I can understand why you are getting some eye-rolling about your approach, sorry. Both you and your OH are being negative towards your son and expecting too much of him and being unfair, even though I am sure you don't mean to be. Sorry if this is harsh, but it's true, IMHO.

AutumnMadness Fri 23-Nov-12 10:39:06

newmummytobe79, I am sure you love your child very much, otherwise you would not be writing about him here and worrying about him so much. But perhaps your view of the world needs to be re-examined a bit. Why do you think that so many children of today are mollycoddled brats? Compared to what kind of children? Where do your expectations come from?

And also, perhaps, from the mollycoddling perspective, trying to control the behaviour of a child may not be a good thing. Let the child to work out how the world works independently not from your words but your reactions and cues in your own behaviour.

newmummytobe79 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:39:22

And thank you to cory and autumn - and I'm pleased to say I do the things you suggest - so I'm not that bad afterall!

Svrider Fri 23-Nov-12 10:40:03

Op you need to listen to izzy
The techniques you are using are strict for a 5/6 yo, and totally inappropriate for a 18 month old
Can you go to some baby groups and see how other parents interact with their babies?

Svrider Fri 23-Nov-12 10:41:04

Oh oxfordbags also has some excellent advice

newmummytobe79 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:42:27

seriously ... is a firm 'no' for scratching (and removing hand) that bad???

And if baby picks up thrown toy, brings it back to me when asked, and then looks proud of oneself when I praise for doing that ... cruel???


Because that's the top and bottom of what I've written.

cory Fri 23-Nov-12 10:44:15

Ime the most bratlike children I know are the ones whose parents wore themselves out with over-much discipline at an age where it wouldn't make any differences and then became worn out and indifferent. Balance is all. Have a gentle chat with your dh and show him some more practical play-like ways of keeping your lo safe.

(Tbh if you need discipline to keep a 14mo safe from the fire, you do need to think about child proofing your house.)

bringmeroses Fri 23-Nov-12 10:47:46

Agree with Cory - if DC is doing something you don't like, don't let them do it. If DC won't sit in the high chair, don't use it. Some babies just don't like them, If scratching is a problem, keep your face out of reach. Etc - Cory puts it all so well.

I know you asked about your husband but please try chilling out on the discipline for a few days. Your child is individual and even though so young, deserves respect and consideration. If you are getting an "I don't want to do this" message then please listen as you would if a friend or parent was telling you the same thing. You don't have to 'make' babies do anything; they will eat when hungry, sleep when tired and kick up a fuss if they're not happy.

Even when your child is 10 or so getting them to pick up after themselves (toys etc) is a challenge. If your child learns to do it at 14 months they will not necessarily be a neat and tidy adult. Your baby is a little person not a robot.

I don't think you should criticise each others parenting skills if you've agreed on a course of action; but I think you need to rethink your approach, it will make you ALL a lot happier if you just ease off the discipline a bit, listen to what your child is telling you and 'coddle' a bit more.

If ripping up magazines makes baby happy, I'm sure there are lots of alternative rippable scrap papery things around that you could both have fun with for example.

WorraLiberty Fri 23-Nov-12 10:47:59

I think a parenting course is an excellent idea.

You seem (imo) to have unrealistic expectations in a way...and you're using the type discipline on a baby, that one would use with a child.

All that's likely to do is stress you, your DH and the baby out but it won't achieve anything.

Oh and if the baby is scratching so hard it's causing you to bleed, cut his fingernails really short when he's sleeping.

Good luck.

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