As a teacher, I know a thing or two about discipline. Unfortunately though, I only seem to be good at disciplining other people’s children. When it comes to my own child I feel pretty helpless. Maybe that’s just because I don’t know if she is old enough to discipline. And if she is old enough, I just don’t feel sure about how to approach it. She is certainly too young for the behavior chart and refocus desk that work so well for me at school. I watch Supernanny religiously, and I know all about the time-out method, but would that really work for a one year old? I’m sure the fact that I’ve always let her sit in her time-out chair for fun won’t help things.
The books say that you should only use the word no sparingly and when you really mean it, such as in situations where your child might come to harm. It is probably not in anyone’s best interest then that in my house we play the “No, no, no” game. Emmalee thinks that it is hilarious when you tell her no. She will smile wide and shake her head right back at you, which is adorable at the moment. So her Grammy and I sing-song “no, no, no” to her when she does something mostly harmless, like sticking a toy in her mouth, just to see this response. It has gotten to the point now where she will reach for something she is not supposed to touch, like her nightlight, and look at me with delightful expectation wanting to hear a cheerful reprimand. If I change my tone and say no sternly, I either get ignored or I inspire a tantrum. So far discipline is not going so well.
The books also say that when it comes to a one year old, the key to discipline is to play defense. Meaning that I should do what I can to avoid situations where Emmalee can do something wrong in the first place by removing dangerous objects and items she shouldn’t have. When that fails, I should move to redirecting her attention to something more appropriate. For instance, when Emmalee decides that she absolutely must pull up on the unsecured shelf holding several framed pictures, rather than reprimanding her I should remove her from the situation and try to interest her in something else. The first part of this plan I have down relatively well. The area that Emmalee plays in is mostly childproofed and harmless. But I don’t see how someone could ever make their home 100% safe so that a one year old can have free reign. My problems come in when Emmalee gets past my defense and I have to deflect. I have been blessed with an exceptionally stubborn child who has a well-developed flair for theatrics. When I remove Emma from the previously mentioned shelf and try to interest her in something else, she immediately goes for the shelf again. She has a great attention span and is very determined, which might be a good thing someday, but when trying to distract her it can be very unfortunate. Once I remove her from the shelf a couple of times, a wailing tantrum ensues. This same scenario replays itself no matter what it is that Emmalee has decided she must do and that I have decided she must not do. We seem to be at an impasse.
What I would like is for Emmalee to calmly except it when I tell her no and to move on to something else without hysterics. Perhaps this is asking too much of a one year old?
I am not really overly concerned about discipline right now. I know that Emma has just barely left the baby stage of her life and is only just beginning to understand the world. What I am concerned about is giving in and doing what is easier now and setting a bad precedent for the future. I am also worried about whether or not I will recognize the appropriate time to start implementing discipline and respond appropriately. Or will I always be a push over when it comes to my daughter? I love watching Supernanny, but I am not interested in being a candidate for the show someday. Though Nanny Jo is retiring, which is really too bad. What I wouldn’t give to have that woman on speed dial just in case…