Moving right along...
Parenting is hard. By no means do I consider myself an expert when it comes to parenting. But I do feel like Garrison is a really well behaved kid (so far) and hopefully Ethan will be too. I completely understand that all kids are different. I also think some kids are more responsive to one type of discipline over another (for example, timeouts vs. spanking). I don't think there is one perfect way to raise a well behaved child. But I do think many parents out there are lazy and give up on disciplining their kids because they assume that is "just the way they are" or that it's "just their personality". Guess what?! They won't be able to use that excuse when they are 30 and living/working in the real world.
Here are some things I have learned along the way that I want to share with y'all!
- Get off the phone! We are all guilty (including me) of wanting to be on our phones all the time and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But when I go to the store and hear a kid yelling and screaming from two aisles over I am not the least bit surprised when I get to that aisle and see the mom with her back to the kid playing on her phone. I don't even think it's always a matter of them misbehaving as much as it is them wanting your attention.
- Co-parenting is ridiculously important. Discussions about how to raise or discipline your kid should be held behind closed doors, never in front of them. Garett and I try really hard to make sure we don't contradict each other in front of Garrison. That doesn't mean I haven't had to bite my tongue (literally) from time to time. If you were constantly fighting about your kid in front of them I imagine this is what they would feel like.
- Displine is a necessity. I think timeout is very beneficial as long as you are consistent with it. I agree with the minute/age rule (2 year old gets 2 minutes, 3 year old gets 3 minutes, etc.). I have heard so many parents say their kids will not stay in timeout. Have you ever watched Super Nanny? If they get up, put them back. If they get up again, put them back again. If they get up again, put them back again. Don't be lazy with this. I promise you are helping yourself in the long run by being firm and consistent.
- Physical Discipline - I realize not everyone agrees with spanking but I did this with Garrison from the ages of about 2-4. My rule with spanking was I NEVER spank out of anger. I only resorted to it after timeout and several warnings or if he put himself in a very dangerous situation. For example, when Garrison was about 3 he yanked his hand out of mine and ran into the street. You can bet your ass he got a spanking for that. It was a moment I didn't want him to forget and I wanted him to understand the seriousness of the situation.
- Don't turn discipline into a game. I know it's hard to try and discipline a child after the tears start falling or that sweet little mouth turns into a frown. But you have to stay firm and consistent. Don't try to make timeout or discipline fun. That will only result in your child acting out more frequently to get more attention/fun time from mom and dad.
- Independence - You have to let go of the leash a little more with each passing year and let them learn things and experience things on their own. You are not always going to be there to do things for them. I think this is a better method than just pushing them out into the world at 18 and hoping they do well.
- Don't give them everything they want when they want it. Garrison started telling me he wanted a DS two years ago. He just got one for his 7th birthday. I wanted to make him wait a little so he would appreciate it more. Also, it is very rare that I let Garrison get a toy when we go to the store. And if he does, he typically uses his own money to buy it.
- Tantrums - I remember this being big when Garrison was 2 and 3. He would throw a tantrum and I soon realized that ignoring him was the best option. He would literally throw himself on the ground and start screaming. I would say something like, "I am not going to talk to you when you act like that" and I would walk away. He would end up following me around the house screaming and I would just completely ignore him. It works, I promise. This is one of the funniest videos I have seen of a kid throwing a tantrum.
- Follow Through - I have blogged about this before so I will keep it brief. It is SO important that if you threaten something you follow through. For example, "If you don't stop we are leaving the store." If they don't stop, LEAVE!
- Unconditional love - Tell your kids every day, multiple times a day, how much you love them. I smother Garrison with hugs and love all the time. It is a healthy balance to show them discipline, consistency, boundaries and love. It's funny because if I ever get on to him for something he usually comes back with something like, "I'm sorry Mommy. I love you." Melts my heart and makes the yucky discipline part worthwhile.
Like I said I'm no expert but I hope this is helpful advice for those of you who are just starting out as parents or feel like you can't get your kids to behave. You are molding and shaping them into the adults you want them to become. That may seem like a big job... because it is! You have to have confidence in your ability as a parent and have high hopes and expectations for your kiddos. You've got this!!!