As you may know by now, throughout this week, Fort Worth Moms Blog has been in the midst of a series on discipline. We’ve talked about methods such as love and logic, peaceful parenting, spanking (or not), conscious discipline, and time outs. Parenting wisdom at its best, right?
Now, I’d like to let you in on a little secret: I have no idea what I’m doing.
That’s right. I admit it. My 3.5 year old has me at a total loss most days.
(Sidenote: a fellow FWMB contributor recently referred to her similarly-aged daughter on Facebook as a “volatile threenager,” and I couldn’t agree with that perfect description more.)
I have read parenting book after parenting book: Love & Logic, Peaceful Parent Happy Kids (one of my personal favorites), Parenting the Strong Willed Child, Setting Limits with Your Strong Willed Child, Raising Your Spirited Child, Simplicity Parenting, 1-2-3 Magic, No-Drama Discipline, Positive Discipline for Preschoolers, The Gentle Parent, Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules (a surprisingly good read from the Super Nanny herself) . . . and those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. Thank goodness for the library.
(I definitely lean toward a peaceful parenting approach . . . but that doesn’t always work, and frankly, sometimes I can’t keep myself peaceful.)
I’ve tried strategy after strategy: I’ve empathized, counted, spanked, spoken calmly, yelled, hugged, taken away, and timed-out. I’ve set limits, handed out consequences, given in, and been consistent. I’ve taken classes, asked opinions, and asked for help.
Yet, I still can’t figure out the magic formula that works with my child.
I struggle daily with getting her to listen and do what she is asked. (I am the quintessential oldest child –read Rule Follower and People Pleaser Extraordinaire — therefore this does not compute).
I use different approaches depending on the offense and how I feel her day is going (how much sleep she’s gotten, how well she’s eaten, how many tantrums she’s thrown so far, etc.). All of the books listed above (and those I haven’t read . . . yet) have well-researched, varying strategies that I call upon often. Sometimes, I feel successful. Other times, we just have to take time away from each other because nothing is working for either of us. Most of the time an epic battle of the wills ends with a hug and “I love you.”
All that said, I realize this is a phase. Our discipline system is a bit of a (melodramatic) disaster waiting to happen, but it won’t be forever. I know there are bigger battles waiting down the road, and we’ll have a better idea of how to handle those situations — and her — when we get there. Regardless of how well any specific discipline methods may work at this moment, I’m confident that we are raising a great kid.
I know deep down that she feels truly loved and knows that my husband and I are there for her always. I know that while I want her to obey, I also want her to question everything and stand up for herself; I don’t want to squelch that in her. I also know that she is learning right and wrong (mostly because she looks right at me with an evil grin and side-eye before doing something she’s not supposed to).
I try to remind myself that I’m having trouble because she is confident, creative, and smart . . . and because she’s a preschooler.
Which reminds me: somebody check on me when she’s a teenager.