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Early discipline: how to get co-operation when there are no consequences?

(24 Posts)
munumunu Sat 14-May-05 18:54:17

DD is 15m and I can deal ok with e.g. when she touches something she shouldn't - I just say 'no' and then remove her/the object if she carries on. But what about things like throwing food on the floor? I've tolerated this up till now because I wanted mealtimes to be fun and she wasn't old enough to understand that she was making a mess, but she's more than old enough to understand that it's not on (and I'm hoping that if she starts learning to behave at the table, we will eventually be able to leave cafes without having to apologise profusely!). Thing is, if I say 'NO' when she throws food on the floor, and then she still does it (sometimes apparently thinking it's a game, in spite of my tone of voice and expression), there is no equivalent to removing the dangerous object or whatever. I could terminate the meal of course, but sometimes she does it at the start of the meal and I'm not quite ready to starve her! And there are other situations where the same problem arises: taking her nappy off for instance - all I can do is say 'NO' and put it back on, but then she'll just try and take it off again.

I feel like I'm in a bit of a no-man's land between total tolerance (as with a newborn) and full-blown discipline with punishments etc (as with an older toddler). I'm sure it's just a phase, like everything else, but any wisdom would be welcome.

Mud Sat 14-May-05 18:55:23

take the food away for a minute with a firm no then hand it back - if she moves to do it again - do it again - ad nauseum

WideWebWitch Sat 14-May-05 18:57:38

Agree, it's boring, but eventually it'll sink in. She doesn't even know it's wrong yet, you have to teach her that, kindly.

myermay Sat 14-May-05 18:58:38

Message withdrawn

munumunu Sat 14-May-05 18:59:59

I know what you mean munumunu - that's good advice Mud but I tend only to give my DD (same age) one or two pieces of food at a time so once that's on the floor, there's nothing to confiscate! DD does the nappy-removing thing too - it is infuriating at times!

Mud Sat 14-May-05 19:02:40

my youngest has had a whole plate in front of her since she was just under a year have you tried putting a full plate in front of her?

my yongest is a gannet by the way and there is no way the food would go anywhere but in the vast hoover that is her mouth

mummum Sat 14-May-05 19:02:59

Sorry munumunu, entered your name instead of mine (doh) - shouldn't have worked tho, unless you've changed your name since posting?! Confused!

Papillon Sat 14-May-05 19:11:10

I avoid using the word NO as much as possible. I find it too general and repetitive to use for everything and feel that it loses its value. In fact even though I use it sparely, dd seems to listen to me more if I use other words - like for plants.. ´gently´, ´carefully´ - ´nice plant´. I give them value and feeling - stroke the plant and show that I like the plant and is my friend.

They understand alot of words so explaining ´leave nappy on please´could make for more comprehension than ´no´

They are really starting to learn about their willpower and personality and so No to me means a battle of wills which they will 99.9% of time find to be a game and/or something to resist.

I explain the same with food on the floor - it took awhile for her to get it.. so I broke it down... told her the word for floor so she began to see the association.

Rarrie Sat 14-May-05 20:37:02

I let my DD feed herself. When she messes around and starts throwing food. I take the plate from her, and I feed her. WHen she complains, I tell her she can only have the plat eback if she eats nicely. It seems to work for me!

ionesmum Sat 14-May-05 20:48:34

Also they have such short memories at this time, you just have to keep on reminding them over and over. I agree with Papillon to some extent, that keeping 'no' for really bad things is a good idea. There will be times when you need your child to take notice of you and stop immediately, and reserving a stern 'no' for that works for us. Otherwise we try to say the positive rather than the negative. Little children do understand a huge amount.

moondog Sat 14-May-05 20:54:42

I think that talking about disciplining 15 month old babies is very worrying myself. A lot of what she is doing is normal experimentation. Dealing with it patiently is at the core of what it is to be a parent.

ionesmum Sat 14-May-05 21:02:48

Yes, moondog, I think the food dropping is all a part of learning about their environment and how the world works. But I do have to try and teach dd2 not to stick her fingers in the dvd player or in my eyes! My friend is very big on the idea that you leave everything out and then teach your children not to touch. I spend hours watching her telling her ds not to touch, and of course cringe as my dd1 goes digging through her pot plants, but I was really upset when my dd1 found a huge big piece of sharp kindling and was running around with it - she may as well have had a knife! I just think it's so much better to remove everything that is dangerous/breakable until a bit later, and then relax - so you don't have to keep on at them all the time.

moondog Sat 14-May-05 21:05:16

Agree ionesmum,point being that the things you mention are dangerous. Throwing food and removing your nappy isn't. Tedious for the parent but nothing more.

ionesmum Sat 14-May-05 21:08:36

Absolutely, moondog. I'm agreeing with you but probably putting it badly!

franch Sun 15-May-05 11:56:25

moondog, I also have a 15mo baby. At what age did you start saying no, or whatever your method was for teaching good behaviour? (Genuine question btw.)

franch Sun 15-May-05 12:00:29

PS: Don't be too hard on munumunu - I think she's new here - and the word 'discipline' can be interpreted in different ways - it can have very negative associations for some, but I do know what munumunu means about this stage, where your child is beginning to test boundaries and you want to make it clear that there are some in place. There is nothing wrong with boundaries as long as they're demonstrated with love, surely?

Fran1 Sun 15-May-05 12:32:40

Agree with www's first post about teaching kindly. My dd did this but now at 2.5 tells me if she has dropped a bit to make sure i pick it up!
I also agree with the slow down on the NO's, i saved the stern 'no's' for when there was a real danger around.

Nappy taking off - if we were at home i used to let dd take it off if she wanted to, cos i know i wouldn't want one on all day! DD didn't really do this when out as there was normally too much distraction so wasn't a problem.
Yes we had a few accidents on floor, but so what! I kept a potty near by so if she started to wee i'd sit her on it quick. This unintentionally resulted in her being potty trained at 2 with no real effort from my part so an added bonus!

FairyMum Sun 15-May-05 12:42:03

For my children the throwing food on the floor-phase was just a phase. I never showed any reactions and it sort of stopped by itself. I think they have to go through a food in the hair and on the floor-phase. I never took them to realy nice restaurants, but in places like Starbucks and Cafe Rouge I just cleaned up after them. I can't remember what age mine stopped throwing food on the floor, but 15 months still sounds quite early I think. It's important for mealtimes to be relaxed. Does she go to nursery? I find that just eating with other people (family and in nursery) they naturally pick up how to behave around the table. Now my DS1 is almost 4, I let him make a mess, but he has to pick it up afterwards which means he understands consequences. At 15 months they don't really.....

I think it's nice to let them go without nappy. My friends who have had children who wanted to take their nappies off all the time, also had them potty trained much earlier. So perhaps it's a good sign your daughter will potty train herself quite early?

morocco Sun 15-May-05 14:42:21

stupid though this may sound, have you tried cause and effect yet - eg ds sometimes won't wear his sunhat and I think it's an important issue, so I tell him that if he isn't wearing his hat we will have to go inside. When he throws it on the floor again, I say 'hat on or inside' like it's a choice (nice voice etc) and he lets me put his hat on and leaves it on. so I guess from this that he understands the choices. I do the same with sandpit 'games' when he starts chucking sand everywhere. ds is 14 months old and I started doing this a month or so ago already.
I haven't bothered using this with his food - I'm not sure if it would work except maybe to ask in a nice voice if he has finished already and does he want to get down. He'll soon let you know if he hasn't so I wouldn't worry about him starving . On th other hand, as others have said, it doesn't really bother me that much either, we have a dog on hand!! Once he's seen her scoff his delicious dinner, less of it ends up on the floor, I can tell you

moondog Sun 15-May-05 18:41:55

franch...seem to recall thinking vaguely a bout discipline at about two...
Sorry,munumunu if I sounded short. Just seem to have been a lot of odd threads recently asking for help with ridiculous things like how to deal with 'clingy' 3 week olds. FGS!!

Morocco, ah yes a dog! Some days I hardly had to feed mine at all as dd made such a mess.

franch Sun 15-May-05 19:07:30

clingy 3wk-olds!

moondog Sun 15-May-05 19:10:29

Well,that sort of thing....

vess Sun 15-May-05 20:32:41

Can't you take the food away and start feeding her instead - every time she throws food on the floor? That way you won't be starving her but you'll let her know that she can feed herself only if she does it without throwing the food.
The nappy thing - I think maybe to do with them wanting to experiment with their bodily functions and get to know more about themselves - first step towards potty-training! Plus, it's uncomfortable - how would you feel if you had to wear a nappy all the time?

californiagirl Mon 16-May-05 19:03:46

We started to get DD not to throw food immediately (like at 10 months) which is also what they do at nursery. We just didn't expect it to work very rapidly. We use the basic theory:
1) Say what you want, not what you don't want ("Food stays on the plate", not "No throwing food").
2) Consequences must be immediate, consistent, and logical. She behaves better at nursery because they are better at 2).
3) She doesn't do it to be bad, she does it because she has a reason. Usually the reason is that she doesn't want the food, or playing is more interesting than food. If she doesn't appear to be interested in eating, we show her how to say "All done" in words and signs (which she does now at 14 months, it's sooo cute). If she's just ditching things she doesn't want at the moment, we have her hand them to us. If she's just more interested in gravity than food right now, we take the food, and our attention, away, and wait a bit. When she starts to fuss, we give it back. If she doesn't eat it then, well, she's not hungry, sometimes she eats like a horse and sometimes she eats like a toddler, she'll eat something later.

For us, the consequence is that we take the food away, and don't replace it with anything for maybe a minute. If she hands it to us we make a fuss and if appropriate replace it with other food. If she says "All done", again, we make a fuss and get her down/provide her with toys as fast as humanly possible. But throwing food is boring, boring, boring. It just goes away and things are dull.

Alas, she almost never drops food on purpose in restaurants, and she wears a bib with a big pocket, and we still have to apologize for the mess every time...

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