Cesca’s age is beautiful to witness. Her tiny being is starting to understand more and more the happenings around her and is slowly starting to use words to express what she wants to say. She cuddles her favourite soft-toy, she calls out for Elmo who happens to be her latest obsession, she loves animals and their sounds, she runs and jumps on A when he comes back from work – all in all it’s a fun phase.
But there is also a darker side to this age. Along with all this new realization of the world, she has also found out that there are ways to get what she wants. She is perfecting her screaming voice upon hearing the word ‘no’, she is privy to throw things around whenever she is refused something and she is learning that the more public the place, the more louder the yells and the more desperate mama’ and papa’ become to quiet her down.
Take last Sunday for instance. I was sick and exhausted from blowing my nose and sneezing all the time – all in all a bit less patient and more on edge than usual. We went out and after a couple of minutes in her push-chair she wanted to get out (I have to remind myself about how much I wanted her to walk a couple of weeks ago!). We relented and she was off and about – running like an escaped convict, dashing in between people and crowds, A running after her and me trying to catch up with the push-chair in one hand and a Kleenex in the other. Then came the mammoth task of trying to put her back in the push-chair. I doubt very much whether Canterbury City has ever heard those types of screams and cries – she even managed to outdo two adults and escape again! When eventually put and locked into her push-chair she was whimpering for quite a time, and started to scream again each and every time we stopped somewhere.
My question is: How do you discipline a 19-month old? Whenever I use the word ‘no’, she ends up repeating it back to me and kicks and throws things within her reach. I remain as serious as possible and explain to her the reason why she’s in the wrong, she will quiet down and then bury her head in my lap and say ‘mama’ and start giggling. And I try and keep a straight face. Her latest thing is bringing things over to me – books for me to read to her, the iPad to watch Elmo again or fruit for me to peel for her, and if I refuse her answer is running around the house for at least ten minutes, screaming, becoming purple in the face and screaming till she then stops and starts laughing. I’ve read about tantrums and I’ve read about the terrible-twos and while I break out in a sweat, I think we’re in the midst of it all.
So we’ve started using The Corner for when she’s misbehaved. Since she won’t stay still in one place, I put her in her highchair (another enemy of hers) and turn her around to face a corner. I’m not sure if it works but I’ll keep doing it. I have to pinch myself at times to keep calm and consistent. Whenever she’s at the midst of a loud and painful-to-watch tantrum, I have to curb the urge to give her a small smack on her hands, mostly because I’m scared of trying it out and I know that her noisy episodes are just that – an episode, and they phase out with time. I try and reason it all out by saying that if she’s crying and screaming, a smack definitely won’t calm her down. So I’m stuck in a rut.
Child-smacking is buzzing at the moment here in England because an MP came out and confessed that he smacked his children when they were younger. I was given the occasional smack when younger whenever I deserved it and I turned out reasonably well and with a high level respect for my parents and elders. However smacking children may send out the message that violence is okay and acceptable, and it may also instill feelings of anger and revenge. And those are feelings I do not want C exposed to, not ever.
In an ideal world it would take an entire village to raise a child. Whenever C would act up, I would hand her to a relative who would distract her, have her behave better, and ultimately be helping her as a child and support me as a mother. But not everyone has that village to fall back on. At most times, you have to take decisions there and then and hope for the best result. Motherhood can be tinged with feelings of inadequateness and guilt, the feeling that you’re not doing enough, that just by getting angry at your child you are lacking her, and then the awful feeling of guilt you get after being angry at your child.
I have this way I would like my daughter to grow up. There are certain values I want her to appreciate and be thankful for. I would like for her to grow up to be a beautiful being with attractive characteristics and a positive attitude. When still childless I would at times judge other people’s actions and say that I would never do that with my own children. I have now learnt how selfish and easy it is to do just that. At the end of the day it’s just about learning to live with the result of your actions. So now I do what I think (and hope and pray) is best with Cesca, and I will let the rest take its natural course.
While reading books and internet articles on the matter, I came across this post from The Hippie Housewife, one I think should be read. My favourite piece of advice – teach children what they should do instead of telling them what they should not do.
Are you going through something similar? What ways of disciplining your child have you found work best? Please, do share!