Originally Posted by ajane
We discipline our children by teaching them. That is, the definition of discipline after all. We start when they are babies, b/c they weren't born into this world knowing what is right from wrong, having manners, and having a general sense of what is expected. The teaching continues throughtout their entire childhood and even through their teenage years as different ages/situations come into their life. Through the learning process, mistakes will be made, accidents happen, and testing limits/boundaries will occur. It is all normal and part of the process. You can't expect a child to learn and abide........that isn't normal. They need to experience success, failure, learn how to deal with consequences of their actions, and how to recover from accidents. They need to be able to apologize, forgive, understand, and think of others.
When they are babies, they learn simple expectations. Providing a warm, loving, comfortable atmosphere is important for us as parents. They need to begin to trust and have someone they can count on to be there for them, as babies and as adults. When ours were babies, we took out the dangers related to health and safety. They are just too young to be able to grasp that idea and it wasn't worth their health and safety to use it as a learning experience. They still have plenty of time for that. So we would put safety plugs in the outlets, all cleaning & medicine was way out of reach, if I was cooking in the kitchen, they were kept clear and I was very aware of where they were, etc. Breakables or objects that could really hurt them were put away. We still had most things out for them to learn from. It was a lot of talking...."no, we don't touch that, it is not our toy. Here is a toy to play with." And a lot of redirection. At this age, time is unlimited for them. They could and would try to grab the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over again, and another 20 times just to see if anything has changed. It isn't them being bad or purposely doing opposite of what you say, it is the way in which they learn.
As they get into the toddler years, they begin to realize they have thoughts, feelings, and wants that they can express. But, this is the rudimentary phase of expression and sometimes they totally goof it up. Again, it is a learning process for them and we need to guide them through it. There will be a lot of frustration on both sides, but it is imperative to utilize communication and make them comfortable talking and listening. As a parent explaining WHY is very important, b/c they just don't know. You can't expect someone not to do something when they don't know why they can't. Again, at this age time is forever, so they will be very persistant and curious to see if they will get the same outcome the 80th time they do something.
As for safety, when they are of age to be able to walk on their own it was mandatory they either held our hand or were carried in a parking lot. We did this until age 4 or when they could walk properly through (off to one side, staying pace with me....i.e....not running ahead, and being alert/aware of cars). EVERY time we were in the parking lot we talked about cars and how dangerous it can be and that they are too little to be seen by drivers at times. When they were old enough to understand why drivers can't see them then I would put them next to the back of the car and show how their heads didn't even go over the trunk of the car and if they are shorter than the trunk, the driver can't even see them in the mirrors. We teach them that if they hear a car running, to be very careful , if they see red lights they need to stop and back up a bit, if they see white lights then they must stop immediately and back way up.
In regards to streets it is similar. They know that only cars should be in streets and going into a street is a big NO. We teach them the immediate danger voice or the absolute not voice, which is loud and stern and usually only has one word, STOP or NO.
As they get into the preschool and schoolage years the teaching continues as it grows to fit what they are going through. We teach them about tolerance, differences, reminding them to think of others and put them into their shoes, to be helpful, to believe in themselves, to be confident in what they want/like, to be remorseful, understanding, etc. As parents we model behaviour we want. Children learn quicker through seeing and example. When Dh or I make a mistake we admit and apologize and explain. If one of them is "acting up" we sit down and try to figure out why and where they are coming from. Then we work together for a solution.
It is important for us to instill trust, honesty, open communication, and empathy in our children.
If anyone of them misbehaves, then there will be a consequence. The consequence depends on what happened and who was affected. Most times the offender will have to go to a quiet area (this is not similar to time outs or being banished, it merely provides a quiet place where they can sit and think about what they did and what they should/could have done differently.) It is VERY normal for children to act before they think so I don't think an immediate punishment is deserved. Now, if they do a severe act that they KNOW they shouldn't then that is different. I will go and join them and talk to them and try to figure out what they were thinking and why they did what they did. We talk about it and figure out a better solution and resolution. For us it isn't about "punishing them", but working with them to figure out how to be a better individual.
We respect them as individuals and we want them to know that and to respect themselves along with respecting others. If we don't respect them then we can't expect them to respect anyone else, most importantly themselves.
Going back to trust, we don't promise them anything we aren't 100% sure of. Say we were thinking of going to the movie this weekend. If I am not certain we can go, then I will say "I'm pretty sure we can go as long as......" OR "We will try to make it work, but it may not b/c of....." I want them to know that if I say something I will follow through with it so they can learn the same importance.