Wobbling Our Way Through

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. Β 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!

Most of the time she's a real sweetheart, but on some days I find myself unable to understand her outbursts!

Most of the time she’s a real sweetheart, but on some days I find myself unable to understand her outbursts!


8 thoughts on “Wobbling Our Way Through

  1. I don’t have a child; however, one school of psychology teaches that children don’t respond well to the negative, so phrases need to be re-phrased. e.g. ‘Don’t spill your juice’ would be re-phrased to ‘keep your juice in your cup’. It’s difficult to talk this way because we’re so used to saying ‘don’t do this and don’t do that’, but apparently the positive phrasing resonates more with children. Also because if you remove the word ‘don’t’ the phrase becomes ‘spill your juice’ – which is the opposite of what you want you want them to do! With positive phrasing, this is unlikely to happen. Again, it takes mental training, which isn’t something that comes naturally when you have a screaming two-year-old, but it might be worth trying out. Even in just regular speech when she’s behaving, not necessarily in stressful moments.

    Good luck! x

    • Thanks G for your words! It is hard keeping your calm and minding your language when C is in one of her moods, but I do like the idea of injecting more positive phrases in everyday speech. I will definitely keep this in mind – thank you x

  2. Nice blog. It was a good read. Being a mom is hard especially in the toddler years where your child is full of “NOs”. You can try giving your child options instead of letting him answer with just “YES” or “NO”. And when you let him/her choose, make sure that the options that you give him/her is there. Like, “What do you like eat? Donuts or a cupcake?” instead of “Do you want to eat a cupcake?”. You will hear “NOs” most of the time, it’s just normal for their age so don’t take it personally. Don’t be too hard on yourself. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much for your advice Janet! It’s so easy falling into a rut and blaming yourself as a mum for everything that happens, but I’m planning to change that attitude. I have to remind myself that these are phases of childhood that will pass! In the meantime, I definitely will start asking questions where ‘no’ is not an option πŸ™‚

    • If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that once this phase is over, another one will immediately start! It’s a beautiful age, don’t get me wrong. It’s just tiresome on so many levels, and you have to remind yourself to focus on the positive! Don’t worry though, the good outweighs the bad and ugly πŸ™‚

  3. I definitely think that keeping things simple at that age is the way to go. I used to explain everything to my first child, and by the time I’d finished, she’d forgotten why we’d gotten to that point.

    Rewards and/or praise for good behaviour can sometimes work, e.g. “If you sit in a stroller, mummy will give you your dolly.” Sometimes “no” is necessary. When they’re a bit older, a choice between two things helps, e.g. “Do you want to wear the white pants or the blue pants?” (and they’re the only options – too much choice is overwhelming).

    Children this age will scream, they will physically try to fight you off, they will not rationalise. The big thing to remember is not to give in. You are kind, you love your child, you give them choices when it is appropriate but your one-year-old does not get a lolly if they scream for one at the supermarket. If bad behaviour gets them more attention than good behaviour, then naturally they will behave badly more often. Sometimes a public tantrum will happen. But we’ve all been there and most people are sympathetic. I blogged about my three-year-old having one a while back: http://francescawriteshere.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/public-tantrum.html

    All the best! And thank you for linking up at Francesca’s Festa of Favourites for February πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much for your advice! She’s going through the tantrum phase at the moment and I know the worst is yet to come. I try and keep myself as calm as possible, often blocking out her screams. Sometimes it works, other times not so much! But like you said, everyone’s been there πŸ™‚ Thanks again x

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