Jumping into the parenting discussions here....because you know I needed a bit more excitement in my life and what better way to add excitement then to blog about parenting. Right? Kendra at Catholic All Year and Delaflute at Diapers and Driver have both recently posted about parenting toddlers...and more specifically one-year-old children.so I'm jumping into the mix with my thoughts on the matter.
I totally respect that everyone parents differently and has different expectations for behavior and discipline. I've known many different families with many different parenting philosophies and I do believe that most parents are trying really hard to do their best. For our part, we generally practice gentle discipline. That's basically how I was raised and is the parenting philosophy that resonates most closely with me. Why? There are several reasons, but mainly because I believe that parenting and discipline require both justice and mercy, but if you are going to err....better to err on the side of mercy. Why? Because I believe that unjust punishments are a grave injustice. As a parent, it's hard to know what is really just and what isn't. I'm sure just about everyone can remember a time when they were unfairly punished. I know I can, and the memory still stings. I can also remember times when I deserved punishment, but was shown mercy...and I'm still grateful for those times and despite the lack of punishment, I still learned right from wrong and have not repeated the offense.
But enough about me...this post is about one-year-old children....and while my one-year old is newly minted.....I've raised three other kids through that 2nd year of life without using spanking or time-outs. Why not time-out, you might ask? Well, one-year-old children tend to find separation quite difficult. I really think that they don't have the cognitive ability (especially a child that is closer to 1 than 2) to understand that Mom still exists, even if I can't see her. With my own young toddler, if I so much as dare to go into the bathroom and shut the door, she stands outside crying as if she is really thinking.
Oh no, my mommy was eaten by the toilet monster,,,help me, help me, I'm all alone, abandoned out here, the toilet monster will get me next, Waaahh!
It's been a long-time since I was a one-year old...so I can't really say how a one-year old feels....but I suspect they might experience a time-out as abandonment, and I don't want my kids to ever feel abandoned...that is a terrifying feeling for a child. We do occasionally use time-out for older children who have a better cognitive understanding of the whole thing, but I prefer to avoid it for kids who are basically still totally pre-verbal. Again nothing against those who do use time-out with younger kids, I can respect that others do things differently, but this is how we do things..and it works for us.
So then, if we don't do time-outs or spanking (not going to get into the whole spanking debate, other than to say that we don't do it)...what do we do?
Well, here are my 7 tips for Parenting a One-Year Old without punishment.
Baby Proof. This should go without saying...but babyproofing can make a huge difference. We have baby locks on the cleaning supplies and try to keep any dangerous or harmful items out of reach. Just makes life easier. And, if we had fancy nick-knacky stuff, we'd put it out of reach...but we don't, because in all honestly I, being a super klutz, am just as likely to break it as a baby would. Plus, I hate fancy nick-knacky stuff.
Redirection. I find this is be especially helpful with young toddlers, who are easily distracted. Plus I believe that young toddlers really do have a NEED to explore....so if they are trying to explore something they shouldn't, redirecting them to something they can is very useful I find this to be especially helpful when we are doing school. When we are doing school the resident one-year old tends to screech and cry and try to grab everyone's pencils and paper, but if we give her her own pencil and paper and say "Here baby, here's your school, do your school." and spend about 5 seconds "helping" her "write" she's happy and content that is being included and stops the annoying, screeching/grabbing behavior and goes on to play by herself for a little bit.
Be Pro-active. Toddlers and babies get more difficult when they are tired or hungry or lonely or overstimulated so being pro-active about that can make a big difference. If they're hungry feed them, if they're tired, give them a nap, if they're lonely...cuddle or carry or sling or hold them.
Baby-wear. Even in the toddler years. Especially in the toddler years. I wear my toddlers in stores and at the zoo or museums. A good sling that can be worn on the back is a real back-saver (I love my Kozy or Beco) and my toddlers have all been super happy to chill out back there and just take the world in . No tantrums in stores. No asking for things. No touching yucky germy grocery carts. Plus, our family eats so much food, that we need the space in the top of the cart for groceries, so I don't have have room to sit a toddler up there anyway.
Be routine. I know that is just general parenting stuff, but for us, having a routine really helps. To avoid baby'fighting diaper changes, I always change the diaper in the same place (on my bed) and if they try to get up in the middle of a diaper change, I just gently lay them back down. Repeatedly if necessary, but it usually doesn't take much repeating because they figure out pretty soon that if they get up, they'll just be put back down, so they might as well just lie down, until all done.
Don't Chase 'Em. Obviously, this doesn't hold if they are heading for a something really dangerous like a busy street or a pool of hot lava. Furthermore, all my kids are neurotypical, so I have no clue about kids with autism or other special needs. But with all my kids, even as very young toddlers, they seemed to have an inner "leash" or "line" or sense of "I'm only comfortable getting this far away from Mommy or Daddy." So, if we were at the park, or outside in the yard, I would sit/stay in my spot and my toddlers all naturally sorta of played around/near me...never allowing themselves to get more than 10 or 15 feet away (or so...I'm not good at estimating distances). That's just what they did naturally. The only child I ever had run it the street was my oldest and that's because she was my first and I made the mistake of chasing her around and following her around instead of just doing my own thing and making her follow me. Because, generally, like a bunch of little ducklings, if we are walking someplace, my kids just naturally follow along behind or stay around me. I expect them to stay with me, and they seem to naturally do so (after all who would want to be by themselves in the big, big world?)
Tame the tantrum. I generally deal with temper tantrums the same way I deal with other forms of crying...by offering comfort and consolation. Nursing is always an easy way to calm tantrums and stop crying fast. Some might say that comforting a tantrum child rewards the tantrum, but I really think that something is very wrong in the parent-child relationship if a child feels the need to throw themselves on the floor screaming so they can get picked up and cuddled. And, I really don't think most young toddlers actively choose to have a temper tantrum....any more than I actively choose to lose my temper and yell at my kids. We all get frustrated and lose control of our emotions at times...and how much harder it is for toddlers who can't yet talk or communicate effectively. So, I really try to be very gentle with tantrums (especially with very young toddlers) who have limited skills or other ways of communication and comfort them through their frustration,, rather than ignoring them (which in my experience seems to make it worse). And, for what it's worth, my kids have never had a really epic tantrum;...with kicking, screaming, throwing themselves on the floor, etc. With all my toddlers, a tantrum basically consists of a little bit of crying/screaming that they were easily comforted out of, and went on their merry way.
So, there you have it folks...my seven tips for parenting one-years old. My toddlers have all been reasonably happy and content and we've generally been able to take them lots of places and somehow managed to survive the toddler years without too much difficulty and stress. And somehow they've all managed to learn not to touch hot stoves or run in the street, even without punishment.
And, since there just happens to be 7 tips, I'm linking up with Jen for 7 Quick takes Friday!.