Disclaimer: Before you read this please know that I am not here to judge your views on parenting. My goal is to support those who have similar views as I do and not to condemn those who don’t.
Isn’t that so hard to differentiate as mothers? It’s hard not to take another’s choices personally if they are not in line with our own. But I hope to foster a different kind of environment within this blog. I’ve actually been a little afraid to write this post or any “parenting” posts for that matter but it’s time.
Just over the past few months my role as a mother has changed. I no longer have a little baby who listens to every word I say with wide, happy eyes. I have a willful toddler with the same happy yet now very mischievous and independent eyes. It’s been a shock. This new phase has been tough for both of us. Some days it’s a battle to just get pants on Henri and all day I’m constantly asking myself “how should I deal with this?”
Since I’m in the battle and it’s all so fresh I have some approaches I’m taking that seem to be working. Oddly enough it’s more about ME than about him. I’m going to go over one approach today and turn this into a little series called “Taming the Willful Toddler”.
Discipline vs. Education:
Before I had Henri I read the book Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. It’s an American author writing about her experience raising children in France. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend the book. It’s both entertaining and educational. I don’t agree with many of her approaches but some really resonate with me while offering a fresh new perspective. She talks about how French parents don’t even use the word “discipline” when they talk about their children instead they talk about “education.” This idea has HELPED ME SO MUCH. In the moments where I want to bark at Henri, spank him (we don’t spank) or give him a time out (no time outs just yet and unsure about them) I stop myself. The truth is, Henri is a tiny human who is new to this world. HE DOESN’T KNOW THE RULES and it’s my job to teach him. When he breaks a rule It’s a little hasty to punish him, don’t you think? He’s still trying to learn that I’m the one in charge. Disciple requires an action but education FIRST requires a thorough explanation.
Heres an example: Henri has started running away from me at the park. A common problem a lot of parents with toddlers have. When he does this I retrieve him and it goes like this:
“Running away from Mama is not for Henri. Mama needs you to stay close because you are small and I’m here to protect you. If you run away from me again we are going to have to leave the park because I need to keep you safe.”
This little talk works best at eye level with your child and if your child darts again YOU MUST FOLLOW THROUGH AND LEAVE. No need to scold or shame (more on the topic of shame in another post) your child but just restate what you already told them.
“We need to leave now because you didn’t listen when I asked you not to run away. It’s not safe to have you run away from me.”
What do you think about this approach? Do you think the discipline vs. education idea matters? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!