Saturday, April 7, 2012


Everyone says that toddlers go through the "terrible twos." I always assumed that this started when the kid was around two years old. Asha, on the other hand, seems to have started her tantrums at around 13 months. At first we tried placating her. Then some gentle scolding. But it did not work. Finally, we took to reading everything we found on whining and tantrums. In the last couple of weeks, our discipline method seems to be working - finally!!

This is what we do. Unless she is doing something that can hurt her, we try not to raise our voice. We firmly say "no" but without yelling. Often this requires us to get down to her level and force her to look at us while we say it, otherwise she would just ignore us and keep going. When she is at the "throw myself on the ground and cry" stage of a tantrum, we merely walk away. If this happens in public, we remove her from the situation immediately. And if she insists on repeating the bad behavior more than three times, we put her in timeout - for about a minute. All of this without yelling. After she calms down, we try to sit her down and explain the reasons for our actions.

Consistency seems to be key here. Repeat, repeat, repeat!!! We also let her make her own choices on things which are not important to us and we have Asha-proofed the house in a way that minimizes conflict (as Gregg says, there is baby-proofing and then there is Asha-proofing). This includes removing almost all furniture except a couch from our living room.

This style has been working (we think and hope). But it is exhausting. It requires constant attention and certainly cannot be done while looking up from a book or from making dinner. At the end of even a good day, I wish there was an easier way. But Gregg has been reading a book called Bringing Up Bebe (I just started it) and we do like some of the precepts in it very much - some, not all!! I will write more about it when I am done with it but one of the main points it makes is that children have to be family-centric instead of parents being kid-centric. In other words, if children are taught that they are the center of the universe (not in the emotional sense but in the sense that everyone will drop everything for their momentary gratification), they will behave accordingly. If they are taught that they are all part of a mutually supportive family, they will also tailor their behavior to that expectation. Therefore, the French apparently think less about "discipline" and more about "education" broadly conceived.

Do your kids whine or throw tantrums? How often? How do you handle it?


Faith said...

Well, the word "discipline" comes from the word "disciple" - meaning, to teach. So, yes, it is meant to teach, not punish. Our culture gets it all wrong. OMG, Jackson has tantrums multiple times a day. Especially when he is very tired. It's often at transition times that he doesn't like (and he's tired usually) - like yesterday morning he wanted to go to the back yard but we were going to go for a walk. We could have quit our plan and went with his, but I felt it was important that 1) he doesn't get his way when he behaves that way and 2) he goes along with family plans even when he doesn't want to. Addy rarely tantrums, only when she is over-tired and just needs to go down for a nap. Each child is different. With Jax, we try to pick him up and calm him, but if he becomes violent, which he does often, then he goes in for a time out. We take him out and tell him why he went to time out and sometimes he can calm down with time. If not, he goes back into time out. We try hard not to get mad, but he pushes buttons sometimes with the kicking, hitting, spitting, etc. He is a very emotional kid! Sounds like you are doing great with Asha, keep it up!

Kathleen said...

Andrew throws full-blown tantrums maybe 2-3 times a week right now. We try to distract and usually that works; barring that we ignore. We try to head it off before it starts by knowing what things might set him off, though of course this isn't always predictable is it?! We have attempted time-outs when he misbehaves (throwing the remote for example) but he doesn't seem to really mind it and I'm not sure he gets the lesson. Maybe that will change over time.

J. said...

I want to read that Bringing up Bebe book. Maybe this summer?