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10 to Twins

By Jessica T

About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manag...  (More)

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How we discipline our own

Uploaded: Nov 7, 2013
I took the twins to mom and baby yoga two months after they were born - something I can barely believe I did after so many years working wondering WHO attends those classes. It's a luxury only ample maternity leave affords - getting me and the twins out of the house to enjoy some exercise and social time with other moms and babies.

One mother confessed to me that they had put their two-year old daughter on a new disciplinary program with the coming of the second baby. They went from a positive disciplinary style to a more punitive counting 1-2-3 "Time Out" style. We never had my daughter on any sort of program, in part due to the instinctive way we've always parented. That said, we erred on the more punitive style...

As the women in my class talked, I sheepishly remembered the time a neighbor caught me cursing my daughter on the street. I was sleep-deprived and stressed out from pursuing an MBA full-time with a two year old (barely an excuse...I also used to play a game where I'd let my daughter say a bad word in my presence alone to test her vocabulary - it wasn't pretty). Instinctive parenting, indeed! One woman in the class remarked that she resented her mother counting when she grew up, because it never gave her a chance to explain herself. Another woman said her dad used to say she'd die with a nasty expression frozen on her face.

I expressed my support of a more punitive disciplinary style, citing my sister's chaotic household as what can happen with the notion of 'Time Ins' rather than 'Time Outs'. 'Time In' being a "cuddle corner" where children are invited, not sent, to have a nurturing conversation with their parents about their feelings instead of being disciplined.

While I don't believe that two-year olds can discuss their behavior logically, the discussion made me wonder if we parent by emulation (my father STILL curses loudly at his kids when they piss him off) or by rejecting what disciplinary styles we hated. I regretted never having asked my sister whether there were things about our own parents' disciplinary style that she disliked and therefore was trying not to do with her kids.

My husband and I certainly have a list of things from our parents that we don't want to repeat, but on balance, we also understand that their parenting philosophy instilled order in our homes and established the parents as the authorities - something that we value in our home.

What's your philosophy around disciplining your kids? Do you parent by instinctively copying (and perhaps cringing at) your parents' own disciplinary methods? Or have you adopted disciplinary methods that fly in the face of what was done in your family?
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Posted by sigh, a resident of another community,
on Nov 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Don't ever tell your kid you are "disappointed". "Disappointed in you" is catastrophic, but even "disappointed with your behavior" is horrible. "Disappointed" is just too tragic a word with too much weight: it's a sadness that comes from an unmet wish. Don't ever let your kid think they are a source of disappointment.

Be an angry and all-powerful god to your kids when you have to be, but don't ever be a disappointed god.

Posted by sigh, a resident of another community,
on Nov 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

(To be clear, I didn't mean you use the word "disappointed". I'm sure you don't. I was just naming what I think is one of the most terrible discipline techniques: expressing disappointment.)

Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Dear Sigh - Specific words definitely carry weight - in parenting as in management! I try not to use the word "concerned" when I'm talking to my team members. And I just learned the tough lesson of not calling my very sweet sister's home "chaotic." Touche.

Posted by Vicky S, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Nov 11, 2013 at 5:59 am

I tried a token system in which the kids started with 5 points and lost/earned them depending on their behavior. At 0, they would get a time out. For this to work, I had to be on the lookout for good behavior and praise it. It worked great. In fact, the kids never got to 0. They always ended up with more than 5 points. One day it occurred to me to try just looking for the good and praise it, nothing else. I didn't tell the kids the point system was in effect. It was only in my head. It worked just as well.

Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 11, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Vicky - Excellent point. My daughter always responded better to positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement. We have used "star charts" during difficult periods, which always worked really well.

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