Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Disclaimer: This post represents my feelings only. It is not meant to serve as judgment of those who choose to use corporal punishment in a loving, restrained, and consistent manner. We all must decide how to discipline our children, and I have learned that judging others for their decisions is unproductive, unnecessary, and not at all loving. That being said, open discussion is encouraged in the comments section- I’d love to hear from both Gentle Discipline/Attachment Parenting mamas and those who practice corporal punishment (I’m sorry I’m not familiar with all the terms here).
I was raised by parents who did not (regularly, anyway) spank. I can count on one hand the number of times I was physically struck by my parents, and it was always by their hand on my bottom.
Brett, on the other hand, was (according to him, anyway) spanked much more regularly. Apparently the belt was an option, too.
So when Lucy became old enough that we needed to discuss discipline in more detail, we found ourselves somewhat divided. I am squarely in the “hands-and-other-objects-off” zone. Brett is in the “time-outs-don’t-work” and “I was spanked and I turned out great” arenas. After much discussion, Brett has finally agreed that our home will be spanking-free until Lucy is at least 3, or when we judge that she is capable of fully understanding what she is being punished for and why. Admittedly, I see this concession as a window of time in which to convert Brett to my way of thinking. However, there are times when I question my own convictions.
Like when Lucy throws food from her high chair. It drives me absolutely crazy! For months she was a dream- we could take her anywhere without making a huge mess. Then, out of the blue, she started throwing food. It began with her feeding the dogs, and now, even if they are kenneled or not around, she does it anyway- it’s become her way of telling me she’s done eating. What’s especially frustrating is that she KNOWS that sign for “all-done” and will do it. I truly don’t understand why she’d rather throw food than just tell me she’s done.
I did read a piece by Dr. Sears that addressed this type of behavior. According to him, children of this age love our reactions, and will continue to do a specific action to see ours. In other words, it’s not a case of “mommy told me not to, but I’m going to do it anyway;” he argues that children are not mentally capable of this. Rather, Lucy is thinking, “when I throw food, Mama makes a funny face and talks in a funny voice.” She actually enjoys seeing my frustration, because she is emotionally incapable of empathy at this point- she doesn’t understand that I am angry or sad. So, for the time being, I’m working on not giving her the reaction she’s looking for. I will walk away from the table and do the dishes. I’ll tell her in a quiet, regular tone to stop- making sure to keep my face composed and neutral. If it continues, I’ll ask her (and sign) if she’s “all-done,” and then remove her from the high chair.
But it’s so hard! I occasionally worry that I’m spoiling Lucy. I wonder if a smack of the hand would help her better understand what I’m trying to convey. I fear raising a child that doesn’t understand or respect boundaries, or that I cannot take out in public because she cannot behave properly. I fear being judged by other parents for not disciplining enough.
Then again, I worry about the implications of teaching my daughter that there is room for physical pain in a loving relationship. I’ve read studies indicating that little girls who are punished physically are more likely to experience abusive relationships. I also am concerned with teaching immediate obedience, mainly because I want my children to know that there are times when they should NOT obey an adult- namely when an adult asks to touch them inappropriately, or be touched inappropriately, or, in the case of a stranger, to get into a car with them. Finally, I worry that spanking sends the message that hitting, even when done with a greater goal in mind, is appropriate.
In just a few words, I want my children to behave out of a genuine desire to do the right thing, not out of fear of being reprimanded. And, believe me, I know that sounds like a lofty goal. To be honest, I’m still not exactly sure how we’ll get there. I know that I want my children to be compassionate and honest and trustworthy and to live lives that are solidly grounded in Christian moral values.
For the time being, I’ll keep reading, and talking to other moms and dads making the same sorts of decisions.
I’ll continue to speak respectfully to my daughter, to illustrate how I expect to be spoken to.
I’ll view this phase as an opportunity to work on my own character, particularly my patience.
And I’ll work on demonstrating the same grace towards my daughter that our Heavenly Father does to His.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Lucy has recently learned how to pinch. Hard. It’s just one of a string of recent developments that has her acting like less of a “baby” and more of a “little person.” One moment I was playing with her on the couch, the next she made a grab for my knitting needles. When I hastily pried them from her fingers, she looked up at me, yelled, and, that’s right, started pinching my thigh.
Where do kids learn this stuff? Admittedly, Lucy gets much less peer interaction than most kids her age. To my knowledge, she’s never been pinched by anyone else. And with the exception of her Baby Signs and Classical Baby dvds, she doesn’t watch tv- and I KNOW there’s no pinching on there. I am at such a loss! Clearly she’s not aware that it hurts, and she finds my reaction hilarious- it’s only slightly different from the one I have when she isn’t careful with her teeth when nursing or chucks food on the floor from her high chair. It seems as though Lucy is constantly researching how her behavior affects ours. If I had to name this stage, I would call it, “Let’s see what I can do to make Mama and Daddy make funny faces and funny sounds.”
Some of Lucy’s other recent developments/favorite activities:
- She LOVES to give hugs- to her stuffed animals, us, the dogs….
- Although she’s still not speaking many words, she has so many associations! I can ask her, “Lucy, can you please go in your room and get Tugs (her stuffed puppy) and bring it to Daddy?” And she’ll do it! I can ask her to hand me things I drop (handy when you’re super-preggo) and she will.
- In that vein, Lucy is obsessed with opening and closing drawers and doors, as well as moving items from one area to another. What’s worked for us: if I catch her opening a drawer, I’ll ask her to close it, please. Usually she does- then I make a big deal of it, saying, “THANK YOU, Lucy! Thank you for closing the drawer!” She gets very excited that she is doing what Mama wants and it generally distracts her from what she was doing- which is usually preparing to dump everything on the floor and move it somewhere else. I’ve found socks in the kitchen drawers, and once discovered she’s dumped the wet wipes from the wipe warmer in her room, only to replace them with dry ones from another basket.
- She loves to open the clothes hamper in her room and shove *clean* clothing and diapers into it.
- The girl is crazy about animals! In the last week, she’s managed to grab a lizard (a green anole), and has had two near-snake experiences. And no, she wasn’t scared. Lucy pets and gives her puppies hugs constantly, and is constantly trying to catch the neighbors’ dogs and cats.
- Lucy is still taking two/three bottles a day- one in the morning (she wakes up around 5 am, then I nurse her, she has a bottle, and goes back to sleep), one at naptime, and one at night. As soon as the Deuce is born and my supply comes back, I’m planning on exclusively nursing her morning and night, which will easily cut out those bottles, and she’ll be on a cup for her naptime milk. The rest of the day she uses a sippy. She still takes her pacifier, but only at night, and I’m not in a big rush to drop it. I know that she still has a need to suck, especially with still being breastfed.
- Can you say hissy fit? Lucy is the queen of throwing a tantrum. Last weekend in Best Buy, Lucy wanted to climb the lower merchandise shelves. As soon as I told her “No” and pulled her away, she threw herself on the floor, yelling and kicking her arms and legs. The kid is quite the actress! I’ve also seen her throw fits over having items taken away and for not being allowed outside. What does Mama do in moments like this? Ignore, ignore, ignore. I’ll walk a step or two away, and pretend to be very interested in something else. If we’re at home, I’ll walk out of the room. That usually does the trick.Overall, I’m amazed at what a little person my daughter is becoming! She is starting to really show her personality and her own preferences and dislikes, which can definitely lead to parenting challenges. However, I’m loving how interactive she is, and how independently she’ll play now. Brett and I both agree that many kids these days have too much schedule and form in their lives in terms of early education- classes, routines, pressure to develop a certain way, etc. Our focus is on independent, creative play. I’m also starting to look into what type of home-schooling we’ll be pursuing (Waldorf? Classical?), but that’s another post for another day.