Tag Archives: discipline

Busby Family Rules

Drafted these tonight for Family Home Evening. My kids were so excited to have input on the rules, and to get the rules written down so they know what they are! Georgie has been going nuts because he feels like he never knows when he’s going to get in trouble, even though it seems obvious to me. But I guess not to him. Anyway, there are two sets, general rules and the table rules.

Busby Table Rules
1. No robots (or toys) at the table! – Robots in this context means anything with a screen that turns you into a robot instead of a real, present human being.
2. Try one happy bite of everything before you leave the table. – You don’t have to swallow if you don’t want to, but everyone tastes everything. Everyone also must have everything on their plate.
3. If you want seconds, eat your firsts (all of them). – If you want seconds of a favorite food, you have to eat your veggies. But otherwise, you can choose to eat however much you want to. Or not at all. But no short order cooking here.
4. No crazy noises at the table. – A necessary rule in a family of boys.
5. No interrupting, no talking with your mouth full of food. – We’re working on the basics of conversation here.
6. Leave the table with your plate (or to go potty). – Even a two-year-old can clear his dishes. It’s not that hard.

Busby Rules of Conduct
1. If someone is going to be hurt or something is going to be broken, tell Mom or Dad.
2. Otherwise, use nice words and voices to solve your own problems. – Yup, I don’t make my kids share.
3. If you try two solutions that don’t work, you can come ask Mom or Dad for help. – I will think of ideas for you, or give suggestions, but I will not solve your problem.
4. No screaming at anyone (especially parents at kids!). – This one is especially for me. Guilty, 100%. My kids get to send me to time out for this.
5. No hitting ever. – Rough housing is okay though.
6. Everyone does their chores. – I tried to add “with a smile,” but my hubby said that was pushing it.
7. Everyone gets an opinion, but Mom and Dad get final say. – I want my kids to know I will listen to their complaints about the rules and consider them politely.
8. Love each other. – This covers pretty much everything else, right?
9. Laugh. – About good times, about horrible times, always.

What are your family rules? Anything important we missed?

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Filed under Discipline, Early Elementary (6-9), Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Theory Thursday: Transitioning away from “Distraction Discipline”

Today’s Theory Thursday is a little pet theory of mine about the best way to teach toddlers to stay away from stuff you don’t want them to have.  I know, it’s not the most profound subject, but it certainly is a time consuming one for SAHMs.  I’d be willing to bet that a mother of a 1-3 year old spends at least 90 minutes every day shooing their child away from dangerous or breakable things.

Of course, the best way to deal with the problem of not-touchable-by-toddlers stuff is to get rid of it or put it out of reach.  But for some things–major appliances, the toilet, computers, DVDs, mommy’s knitting–that strategy isn’t feasible.  You could just keep your baby in a gated room that is baby safe; indeed, I think this is a good practice for at least some of the day to allow a baby/toddler some independence.  However, sometimes you have to cook dinner or brush Baby’s teeth.  Toddlers, with their new-found mobility, are especially likely to encounter forbidden object.

For new babies, there can be no real discipline to keep them away from things, just a re-direction of energy and attention elsewhere, what I call “distraction discipline.”  But on some sad day, this stops working on your toddler and you have to start saying no and dealing with the ensuing tantrums.  As Monkey grew up, I noticed a progression in the discipline I used for dealing with these situations, which I have codified for your convenience.  Basically, I stuck at the lowest level possible until it no longer worked, then gradually transitioned to the next level.  The levels are:

  1. Make the object physically inaccessible, if possible.
  2. Distract, distract, distract.
  3. Say “No” and try to teach them not to touch it, perhaps with a simple reason.  (If you can’t think of a reason, perhaps you’re just freaking out about a new behavior.  Let your toddler experiment a bit.)  But remember, true logic doesn’t kick in until about 3 years old, so don’t expect this to hold from actual understanding so much as from repetition of a key phrase.  Repeat your phrase calmly until the child realizes you won’t give in and gives up himself.
  4. Offer a comparable activity.  If your toddler wants to pour out all of the cereal from the box, chances are that he or she is just interested in how pouring works.  Provide a plastic pitcher and some beans or rice to pour on top of a blanket or cookie sheet.  If he or she wants to drag something against the fireplace grating and create a horrible racket, take the grate somewhere safe and let them experiment with noise, or use cheese graters and metal sieves as a substitute.
  5. Instruct in nature and correct use of the item.  At some point, you’ll have to give into your toddler’s curiosity and teach them how to use the dishwasher, a knife, the sink, the television, etc. etc.  You’ll be surprised to find out how learning to use an item will stick with a toddler.  They very much like to know how things work and how to use them like a grown-up.  (If you’re unsure if a toddler can learn to do something (like use a knife, or put away dishes), I’d suggest checking out a Montessori book from your local library.  Kids can be a lot more self sufficient than we think.)

Viewing Monkey’s curiosity as a progression in discipline and understanding, rather than an act of disobedience, helps us to have a positive relationship about what he’s allow to do.  After all, it’s unreasonable to expect a 2-year-old to hold to the same boundaries as a 1-year-old.  Think how much they’ve learned in that year!  Once he becomes interested in an item we’d previously settled, I know it’s time to move on to the next level.  And once we’ve reached the last level, it’s no longer a problem because he knows the acceptable uses for that object.  For example, here’s how our discipline progression with the toilet looked.

  1. Keep the bathroom door closed.
  2. If the baby wanders into the bathroom, take him out and do something else with him.
  3. Explain “No, the toilet is dangerous.”  Repeat every time Monkey attempts to touch the toilet.
  4. Once Monkey realized the toilet meant open water play, I provided lots of substitute play by filling a large basin with water and setting it on the kitchen floor.  Bring towels.
  5. Explain how to raise and lower the lids gently.  Practice flushing.  Show how toilet paper flushes.  Explain about not drinking the water.  (Eventually, real potty training. :D)

This form of discipline applies mostly to things that children aren’t supposed to touch–stoves, toilets, cabinets, large boxes full of small parts.  But I suppose you could apply this method to social discipline as well.  At first, sharing and turn taking is beyond them.  Swift distraction is the only way to prevent fights.  After a while, distraction no longer works and you can begin to say “no.”  If the child is simply enjoying the act of taking, you could offer comparable activities by playing give and take with the child yourself, or perhaps a tug-of-war type game.  Finally, when the child is old enough to really understand, you can explain the motivations behind good social behavior and expect them to apply them.

Anyway, this though pattern is useful to me, so hopefully, it can help you!

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Discipline, Infant (0 - 9 mos), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Parenting Book Review: Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect

After reading some interesting posts on Janet Lansbury’s blog, Elevating Child Care, I was inspired to read the book her philosophy of child care is based on: Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect by Magda Gerber.  I actually read the book about a month ago, but I’ve been holding onto my review because of vacations and visitors.  The delay has given me extra time to try out some of the methods in the book and think about their effectiveness.  Overall, my reaction to this book, and my personal implementation of it, has been quite mixed.

My main gripe was that the book contains a lot of mental coaching on how to think about a situation, but was somewhat lacking in how such a mindset might lead to concrete actions.  As I’m a person who demands implementable results, this wishy-washy mindset talk drove me crazy.  It’s all fine and dandy to say that you have to adapt to new developments in your child’s behavior, but how about some concrete suggestions on how to adapt to stranger anxiety or toilet training?  Where there were concrete suggestions, they were brilliant for the most part. Continue reading

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Discipline, Infant (0 - 9 mos), Magda Gerber, Parenting Book Reviews

Saturday Links – Family Heritage and Alphabet Rocks

Theory Links

Going Against a Toddler’s Will – Can I just say that I am so happy that someone linked me up with this blog?  Her writing in consistently on par.  Excellent points about necessities vs. like-to’s and being willing to make your kid cry if necessary.  More about that later this week when I review the book on which her philosophy is based, Dear Parent.

10 Ideas for Creating a Sense of Family Heritage – I have totally been thinking about doing #7 for a while.  (And I thought I was so unique for thinking of it.)  Guess this is another hint that I should get cracking writing these books.  Plus they’ll make great Christmas gifts for cousins.

Activity Links

Spaghetti and Play-doh = A Very Fun Match – When I first saw the title, I thought about cooked spaghetti.  Totally wouldn’t work.

Activities for Melissa and Doug Lacing Beads

Alphabet Rocks – Hello!  Totally cute, nature-y, and educational?  100% there.

Footprint Painting

Icy Play on a Very Hot Day

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Filed under Discipline, Family Culture, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Saturday Links – Dealing with No and New Painting Ideas

Theory Links

What To Do When Toddlers Say No – I’ve had good success with this method of offering choices.  Another tip that goes hand in hand with this is don’t ask a question with a wrong answer.  (ie “Do you want to go now?” (NO!) should be “Do you want to walk to the car or should I carry you?”)  I enjoyed an older, related post on toddler discipline as well, except that I do believe time out can be a connected, rather than arbitrary, punishment.  But more on that another time.

How to Be a Professional (Mom) – I loved this post on SimpleMom this week.  The more I think of motherhood as an actual occupation, the more the idea works for me.

Activity Links

Tall Painting, Tall Town – I’d have to be really brave and put together to try this, but it looks like fun.

Slide Drawing – As in playground, not old folks’ pictures.  This is more my style.  I’ll probably be hitting up the local elementary school playground sometime to do it.

Painting with Q-tips – Simple and effective.  And cheap!

6 Fun Beach Ball Games for Preschoolers – Some are overcomplicated for Monkey, but who doesn’t need more ball play ideas.

Number Playdough Mats – Monkey was crazy for these, since he’s not much into creating actual objects yet.  I predict the alphabet ones will hit our table soon.

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Filed under Discipline, Parental Motivators, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Saturday Links – The HALT Method & Weapon Play

Theory Links

Applying the HALT Method: A Checklist for Proactive Parenting – Gives a great concrete form to a strategy I always employ.  Remember to lower your standards for good behavior when any of these four apply, and things go so much more smoothly.

Weapon Play and Young Children – A great topic, one I mean to address in the future.  I’m on the side that says it’s important to let boys play fight and teach them responsibilty over it.

Activity Links

Squeezable Homemade Finger Paint – Always a good recipe to know, and much cheaper than from the store.

Homemade Water Table – I add this not so much for the table, but for the unique water play ideas.  Monkey does love him some water, and as soon as July comes, it’ll finally be hot enough to get wet all the time.

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Filed under Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)