EofK and other young parents,
I was spanked as a child but I don't really consider it an effective form of discipline. Most children are very bright and spanking isn't really much of a deterant if your little ones are a trouble-makers like I was. All spanking taught me to do was to be more devious as a child
. In fact, it was a challenge for me to see what I could get away with without getting caught.
But before you use any form of discipline first check the three basic necessities, food/drink, rest, and health. Sometimes bad behavior will stem from being hungry/thirsty, tired or sick. Sudden crankiness or foul moods might mean a little one is getting sick or teething. And a full tummy and good nap puts everyone in a better mood, including mommy!
So then, the first form of discipline I used was distraction. It works really well when children are under the age of two.
Example: baby stands on the rocking chair and rocks it surfer dude style with hands in the air while yelling, "wee, mama lookee me!"
grab baby off rocker and say,"yeah, baby, you're cool, let's go upstairs and see what daddy is doing!"
As distraction became less effective I would use forceful removal from the situation (ie: stop crying right now or else we will go home.) Taking a child away from their friends at the park, pool or party one or two times really gets the point across like no spanking ever could. By the third time, all I had to say was,"Do you want to go home now so you can continue to cry or do you want to behave and stay so you can play?" "No, mommy, I don't want to go. I will be good!!"
This form of discipline was also a perfect lead into consequences. By the time a child is five or six, consequences works really well. A perfect example I can think of is my older son was constantly forgetting jackets, toys or other personal items at school, parks, friend's homes, etc. The second time he lost his baseball glove I told him he would have to find a way to buy a new one himself. So when our city had their annual garage sale, my small-fry business man set up shop with his little wooden table and sold his homemade blueberry muffins to hungry shoppers. By lunch time, we counted up his earnings and he was very excited to see he had made $30.00! Wow, he had made some hard cash all by himself but we then reminded him he had enough money to replace the missing glove. Somehow, in all the excitement of selling the muffins, he had forgotten about the glove and he became very upset that he would have to use his money
he earned to buy a new one but that was the deal. The next day he took HIS money and went down to the store and purchased the new glove. After that experience we noticed he no longer left behind his belongings.
I think the reason I like disciplining with consequences is because it has the added benefit of teaching your child how to think. Every time you give them a choice to behave or not, they have to use their minds to think about the situation and decide what they are going to do. Decision making is a part of what we have to teach our children to do so this form of discipline works right along with it. And the nice thing about it is they can make mistakes when the consequences for bad decisions are small.
Now, my little guy is as big as his dad and we are still learning what works and doesn't work. He is 15 and he has, at this point, not done anything too horrendous to lose my trust. I told him he is like a kite flying in the air and with each new life challenge he successfully accomplishes I will let the string out little more so he can soar higher. Next year will be interesting because he will get his driver's license so I will check back in and let you know how it is going.