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How do you *do* discipline?

(6 Posts)
RedCrab Sat 13-Aug-16 20:11:12

Recent visit to my family and their criticism has left me with no confidence in how I parent! If you have a three/ nearly four year old - how to you set boundaries and enforce them?

Looking for ideas but also looking for reassurance, I guess. That it's normal to have to repeatedly tell a three year old something. What is normal boundary pushing - but annoying! - three year old behaviour. What's really bad behaviour - hitting etc.

Feel like I've really lost my way.

MoonlightandMusic Sat 13-Aug-16 22:09:06

Well, they all vary, but completely normal to have to repeatedly tell a 3yo something (they're known as "threenagers" for a reason).

The majority of, if not all, behaviour at this stage is still boundary pushing/exploratory. Main thing is you're consistent in your approach to managing the behaviour (so if you say 'no', and then when it happens again 'no, if you do it again xx will happen' and then they do it yet again and xx happens as specified then it will, eventually, work). The only challenge is figuring out what strategy works for your particular child and not swapping too soon from one strategy to another.

Basically it's a long winded way of saying it sounds as though your family are judging on a snapshot when they shouldn't be and you need to ignore them and keep on with what you find to work, even if it's madly different to what they've told you to do 'advised'. Often people forget each child is different and so don't suit a one size fits all model. Might have worked for their children, doesn't mean it will work for yours.

In terms of specifics, I found the 'counting to three' strategy worked well with mine - started off with "If I count to three and you haven't stopped then xx will happen" and was able to progress (after about a year) to "I'm going to count to three" (no specific 'or else' action mentioned grin) - generally I can get as far as two now and they behave.

That said, it's only what worked for mine, might not for yours. I have friends who've found success with the naughty step, others who do the 'finding things to praise' one and anything in between. The only similarity is that it took a while to find out what does work.

Good luck and please don't get too down from snippy comments. You are doing your best (and probably succeeding more than you realise too!).

MoonlightandMusic Sat 13-Aug-16 22:14:12

Oh, and to add to the essay - I'm also very clear with them as to why what they did wasn't acceptable (that also needs to be repeated more than once when small child (now five) is kicking off about me being 'unfair' to tell them off/make them apologise/clean up etc.,).

Cguk81 Sat 13-Aug-16 22:22:44

I'm so glad you posted this as I was thinking about posting something similar so now I can just hijack yours for ideas grin. My DS has just turned 3 and is generally awesome. No trouble at all out the house but when we are at home he is literally all over his younger sister (11months). He takes toys off her, climbs on top of her etc. It's usually well intentioned (e.g to show her how a toy works) but it drives her and me mad. I must tell him about 100 times a day not to do this, that and the next thing but he seems to have glue ears when it suits him and just doesn't listen. I try offering rewards, removing toys, putting him in his room but nothing seems to stop him doing it again a few minutes later. Thankfully I've never had to tell him off for hitting anyone, he is generally very gentle natured but if he ever did hit someone then that would be a whole other ball game and totally unacceptable. He has been hit by other children a couple of times and I thought it was just awful. The parents were quite blaise about it but that behaviour is not okay in my eyes.

lougle Sat 13-Aug-16 22:52:30

I think you need to decide in advance what your absolute non-negotiable boundaries are - things that you will pull your child up on regardless of circumstances. For example hitting/scratching/biting....stuff you just can't let go no matter how awful the scene gets.

Then you work out what you can practically implement in what circumstance. There's no point forming a beautifully executed 'naughty step' routine if it will all fall apart because you can't find a step grin So it may be that you need a variety of strategies that you can turn to. Sitting in a certain place, leaving the venue, spending a few minutes with you to calm down, removing the toy that is causing the strife....they all have their place.

Then you just need to be consistent and have the energy and will to see through your discipline. The key is that your 'no' means 'no', your 'yes' means 'yes' and that no amount of whinging will change that (caveat, if you genuinely reconsider and think 'crap I've made the wrong decision', I think it's a really good thing to act upon that and tell your child that you've reconsidered). But in general, no going back. A bit of pain in the beginning will make your life so much easier later.

Next, don't be afraid to 'loud parent' (i.e. talk to the child but have a message for the adults who sit and judge you). Say 'I'm going to ignore your behaviour because you're tired and hungry and lunch is taking much longer than I thought it would, but once we have had lunch in expecting much better behaviour!' I used to do this with DD1 when she was younger. People would give me looks as she bucked and writhed in her buggy and I would say 'DD1, I know you have SN and it's far too busy here, but that doesn't mean you can yell and scream. Calm down please.' DD1 had no idea what I was talking about but a few of the judgey faces turned to embarrassed and judgey faces, which was good enough for me.

Lastly...know when you're expecting miracles. If you misjudge timings and you end up in a really busy place, just before dinner, in big queues and your kids kick off....don't beat yourself up.

corythatwas Sun 14-Aug-16 11:21:26

Added to the wise words of pp, I think when in the company of extended family or friends, some of your parenting actually needs to be "for show", in the sense that it might not make an instant change in the behaviour of your 3yo but still reassures the people who are being affected that you are on the case. Things like instantly removing a child who is pushing other children or snatching toys off them. Or if your child is holding everybody up and potentially making them miss an activity, simply picking her up and bringing her. The calmer you can stay, the better it works.

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