Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Moment of Reflection

Eloise is two, and like other two year olds her behaviour at times can be a challenge. Refusal to listen, tantrums, not sharing and hitting are a few of the interesting changes we've seen in Eloise since she became a full-blown toddler. I know these behaviours are all part of her development as she learns to verbalize and communicate how she's feeling, but the hitting concerns me a bit. We've noticed she hits mostly out of frustration, but it's still not acceptable around here.

When it comes to discipline I'll admit I'm a little lost. I know children respond to clear boundaries and discipline, I just don't like time outs. I think gussied up 'time out chairs' are gross and forcing a child to face a corner is basically shaming. I think my problem with time outs is that they are negative and don't really solve the problem, especially when the problem can't be aptly communicated. I'm not saying I don't agree with a child taking a few quiet minutes to themselves when they're acting up, but it's our job as parents to help them understand why and how their behaviour is unacceptable. By sending a child to sit on a chair or face a wall without explanation is not going to help them learn how to change their behaviour next time.

When I misbehaved as a child I was sent to my room to think or had privileges taken away, or both, neither of which scarred me or require what my Mom calls 'couch time'. My parents explained the why when I was in trouble and, as far as I'm concerned, that makes all the difference. (Keep in mind this was at a time when most parents were still spanking.) As a younger child privileges were taken away in the form of toys which my Mom kept in a basket on the top of the fridge, in sight but far out of reach. Good behaviour earned the toys back and my mom used this technique well into my teens when privileges revoked meant my cellphone or car. I still think the loss of privileges is a brilliant method of discipline.

In the process of learning to discipline Eloise I've coined my own very new age-y parenting term: Moment of Reflection. Go ahead and laugh, but it makes perfect sense to me: when Eloise misbehaves we talk about it, then I ask her to take a moment to herself in her room to reflect on how she could have behaved differently and why it made me upset. After her moment she apologizes, we hug and then it's done. There is no point in having a moment of reflection when Eloise is mid-tantrum, so at these times we just hug until she is able to explain what she needs and we find a resolve (which may be a moment of reflection).

Eloise hit Chris today and right after asked for a 'moment' then walked herself into her room. I'm not sure if this means she really gets the fact that this gives her time to clear her head and think about her behaviour or if she is just in the process of outsmarting me. We'll see, this is only the beginning.

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