Ah, the art and science of disciplining children. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for many years, long before marriage and Lucy. As an education major, we talked about different “classroom management” and discipline approaches quite a bit. I nannied a ton for about five years, and then of course taught in the classroom for four. But really, parenting and practicing discipline? It takes the cake. You don’t have the luxury of choosing the age you feel most able to discipline effectively…you’ve got all the ages and all the stages. You can’t defer to their parents or hand them off at the end of the day because…you are the parent.
So I thought I’d pull together a few resources on discipline that I’ve been pondering over the past year, particularly now that Lucy is rearing her little will more than ever, and this is only 14.5 months of life. I fully realize there are as many shades of parenting styles and disciplining as there are personalities. I’m not here to laud one over the rest or condemn any; I’m just sharing what has helped me to see child-rearing as a bigger picture rather than getting bogged down by the moments and the crazy amounts of patience required.
I’ve talked briefly before about our research into the philosophy and ideas behind Montessori and their discipline approach. I like a lot of it, but it still leaves a lot of practical holes for me. I’d love to sit in a toddler Montessori classroom in action and actually see what the teachers do to respond to tantrums, non-compliance, disregard for safety, hitting/any form of aggression, etc.. This Montessori teacher had some super helpful hints about daily discipline. I especially liked her advice to not tack on “ok?” to the end of requests or commands (e.g. “It’s time to put your toys away, ok?”).
This may sound ineffective, but isn’t it really the approach God takes with his sinful human creations? It’s similar to Montessori in that it’s based on logical consequences to misbehavior. This post has some good ideas and advice about how to use it with your kids. It also involves no spanking. Big debate in the parenting world, right? Tom and I have had several conversations about this over the past couple years, and we both agree that we don’t want spanking as part of our regular arsenal of discipline techniques. We were both spanked as children, and while not at all scarred by the experience, we both firmly remember not learning anything about correcting our behavior, just being angry and ashamed by the spanking. Plus, most parents tend to spank as a reaction, out of impatience or anger, and that’s not a teaching moment. It’s a tough choice. I know many parents who occasionally spank and don’t do it angrily, they actually wait and do it calmly. But it still seems like such an illogical answer to the misbehavior, like, “Ok, so ten minutes ago you pulled half the hair out of your sister’s head. So now I’m going to take a wooden spoon and swat your bum.” Not much of a connection, especially for little ones who can’t reason yet anyway.
I have liked lots of posts by Leila Lawler about child-rearing on her blog, especially this one. (Maybe not the spanking…I don’t know…see above). She has a very no-nonsense approach yet isn’t harsh. She gives some great, practical tips, and actual things to do and say in given situations. I always find examples like that helpful.
I’ve leafed through Greg Popcak’s Parenting with Grace, and would like to read the whole thing. As a psychologist, he has down-to-earth tips, and as a devout Catholic, adds parenting with the faith in mind.
Tom and I skimmed through Simplicity Parenting last fall, and there are some solid ideas there about parenting with a back to basics style (i.e. get rid of so much junk! Play with your kids and let them be kids!).
Tom’s dad sent us several of Jim Stenson’s easily readable little books on parenting a while ago. They were helpful in thinking about parenting and discipline as a personal family philosophy (the why behind all the whats of parenting).
So that’s what we’ve been thinking and reading about so far, but we have lots to learn! What are your favorite resources on discipline?