Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Discipline Dilemma

When you’re a parent, especially the parent of a young child, every moment is a teaching moment. Which is a real pain in the derriere, if you know what I mean. The fact is that there’s never really a time when you can just let go and ease up on your kid. At least, not for very long.  
A few months ago, I was all about discipline and trying to teach my son about manners and good behaviour. I had created a sticker chart and we were actively teaching him at any chance that we got. If he misbehaved, he was put in time out. If he did something great, he was rewarded with stickers and praise. It worked great. He was behaving nicely, and the discipline appeared to function. As things were going well, we eased up on him.
Like many things in life, the novelty wore off for my son, as it did for us. The stickers were being awarded less and less and the time outs were being met with whining and escape attempts. I began enforcing fewer time outs and my attempts to teach my son came across as nagging, at least to my ears. The nagging was filled with empty threats that I didn’t act upon. I started resorting to yelling at my son.  Let’s face it; it’s hard to always be “on.”   
We’ve also loosened up a bit on scheduling. Bedtimes have gotten later and sometimes much later on weekends. It’s summer, the sun is out longer and it’s harder to get him to sleep as early as we used to. Naptimes are often shorter or taken in the car or his stroller. So the little guy is more tired and crankier.
Bad behaviour has started to creep back into his daily life. He is more vocal now when he wants to do something so he whines loudly or has tantrums. Or else finds a way to do what he wants despite what he is told. We’re getting more reports of misbehaving at daycare. Yesterday he even bit a friend – twice!
So it’s time to get back on top of disciplining and enforcing a regular schedule. Unfortunately, you can’t just say “job done” and move on to the next thing. As parents we must be consistent and as they say, “keep on keeping on.”  
Groan…here we go again.

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