As a full-time mom and family daycare provider, I spend a LOT of time around kids of all ages. Does this make me some kind of expert? No, but I think it does qualify me to pass on a few helpful hints.
As we've all heard a thousand times before, consistency is key to discipline. Before you give in this time, take a moment to think about the next time this particular situation arises, and the time after that, and the time after that. Sometimes we get so busy, and so harried, that it is just too easy to "give in" for the sake of restoring peace. The peace is temporary, though, once your child has learned that you can be manipulated through displays of temper or tears.
EXAMPLE: The other day, two of my daycare kids, who also happen to be twins, were fighting over a wooden spoon. Each claimed to have had it first. My home is very busy, and I don't have time to referee these little squables all day, so the kids know that the rule in my home is that the toys belong to ME, and if you fight with them, I will put them away. Consequently, I confiscated the spoon. They returned to their play, but within just a few seconds, they were fighting over a plastic kitchen toy. I held out my hand and said "hand it over". They did. They were obviously quite disgusted with me, but that's okay. They were less angry with each other, I think because of their joint irritation with me. They also learned that this negative behavior has a predictable consequence.
Well, in this area, I admit that I don't always follow my own advice. I must confess, though, that the best thing that has worked for me is a plan I read somewhere in a child care book when my oldest son was an infant. The doctor recommended following a bedtime routine - bath, brush teeth, storytime, then bed - assiduously. If the baby fusses about being left in bed, I go once every 5 to 10 minutes to make sure there is nothing really wrong, try briefly to comfort the child WITHOUT removing him/her from the bed, and leave the room until the next check. Some folks think this is cruel, but I think one of the most important lessons our children can learn is that they have the ability to comfort themselves, that Mom or Dad is nearby and will make sure they are okay, and that bedtime is time for sleep. This lesson brings peace not only to the baby, but to the whole family.
When do I not follow my own advice? Nightmares. I have a hard time looking at a frightened child and sending her alone to her bed with visions of monsters and demons still fresh. My daughter and both of my sons have spent some partial nights snuggled between Mom and Dad after a nightmare.
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