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Is there any point in punishing a 2.8 yr old? (bit long, sorry)

(12 Posts)
coolbeans Sun 21-Sep-08 11:58:30

He has just broken the TV by throwing a metal toy train at it. I gave him a strict "no throwing", and took the train away, but don't really feel that there is much more I can do that would work better.

However, having just spent two weeks with stern French in-laws, who have made it clear that they think I am bringing up a future delinquent with my half-assed hippy parenting, I'm not sure anymore if I shouldn't be doing something a bit more effective.

He wouldn't sit still at the table for their interminable 3hr family lunches, and so played up by running around but I thought that was asking a bit much of him and so would take him off to do something else. Cue raised eyebrows at his inability to concentrate. He was also very overexcited to see his much older cousins and so did whatever he could to get their attention (leading to lots of "no hitting" comments from me). He also found out how to spit last week, which I'm trying to pay no attention to, but which they were horrified at. He's also prone to huge tantrums. I don't know, he's my only one and I don't know if this is normal behaviour or if he has got some sort of problem caused by me.

I think he's funny and bright and loving, but a pretty spirited little boy. I didn't have a "normal" upbringing myself (mother with "issues") so I'm starting from scratch here but I've clued myself up as much as I can and I'm really trying to be consistent, clear and firm. But perhaps I am fucking him up. What would you have done about the television? Is it really a result of rubbish parenting?

Overmydeadbody Sun 21-Sep-08 12:08:34

At that age they are learning what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

Your job is to guide them gently, not punish them.

I think he sounds like a normal child of this age and you sound like you are parenting him just fine.

He didn't know the tv would break if he threw a train at it. It sounds like you handled the situation just fine.

Overmydeadbody Sun 21-Sep-08 12:11:02

What I mean is, they don't know what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour until they have done it and seen the reaction it gets.

Your reaction will either re-enforce the behaviour, or make him think the behaviour isn't worth doing again in the future.

Remember at this age, any reaction (positive or negative) is still attention, which they like, and will often re-enforce the bahaviour.

morningpaper Sun 21-Sep-08 12:12:21

Your post sounds like you are doing fine but PERSONALLY I would be cracking down on the spitting - I think it is utterly vile to see toddlers spitting and I would go bananas if my children did this. I would use one of the boring-to-death methods of punishment such as time-out (and a good telling-off) if confronted with this sort of behaviour, rather than ignoring it.

Elibean Sun 21-Sep-08 12:53:18

Agree, and trust yourself...I can relate to your last sentence, and tbh, so far I've learnt that the biggest legacy from my lack of adequate parenting is lack of self-trust. If I take time/space to reflect, I know what I feel right/wrong with most of the time...and I bet you do too smile

As for 3 hour French meals, I am half-French and none of my French family expect kids to sit through those! They are hot on manners though, so I take the good bits - lots of please and thank you in our family - and ignore the overkill.

Elibean Sun 21-Sep-08 12:55:29

meant I agree with you are doing fine on parenting - x-post.

I think 2.8 is about the age dd1 started needing firmer enforcement of boundaries and rules, though, so if you - not your ILs - feel at a bit of a loss as to what next (other than guidance) thats probably a reflection of your ds's development: MN great source of inspiration for those times wink

pudding25 Sun 21-Sep-08 13:01:55

I would get bored sitting at a table for 3 hrs...never mind a 2yr old!

Oblomov Sun 21-Sep-08 13:02:02

Agree with deadbody, at 2.8 he is capable of just about understanding that something is 'unacceptable'.
" I was really upset that you ...."

Also, if he is spirited and loving, attention withdrawl " mummy is going to .... so that you can ...." can hit home, more than just about anything else.

I THINK it was about this time, that I told ds that mummy was very upset, and going, so that he could think about. I tell you, he came running, after not long. The attenmtion withdrawl method can be VERY effective.

MrsMattie Sun 21-Sep-08 13:08:45

Sounds to me like you are doing fine. At such a young age I see little point in making everything into a battle. I think that having high expectations (like your ILs expecting him to sit at the table and behave nicely, for example) just sets up conflict.

FWIW, I would have dealt with the TV breakage incident in exactly the same way (possibly reinforced by no TV for today so that you can remind him that he broke the TV so can't watch it).

wahwah Sun 21-Sep-08 14:57:32

You sound as if you're doing a great job. Ignore them, they've clearly forgotten what children of this age are like, or have rewritten history.

coolbeans Sun 21-Sep-08 14:57:35

Thank you all for taking the time to reply -you made me cry, but in a good way.
I was (am) having an "inadequate parent" day, but I need to keep things in some sort of perspective. Any criticism (esp by my MIL) of my parenting tends to have a direct and disproportionate effect on me. I kind of need to remember s/they are not automatically right. It probably is time to be enforce boundaries with him, and I like the idea that it is my job to guide, rather than punish him. Frankly, I had enough punishment to last two lifetimes and I'm just not going down that road.
He is a lovely little boy and I just don't want to get it wrong, so thanks again.

babyinbelly Sun 21-Sep-08 14:58:38

There is not much else you can do to be honest. As long as you confront the issues that you feel are bad behaviour he will learn what is unacceptable. I personally believe that a smack is fine if well timed but if you disagree with this you are doing everything that you can.

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