Archive of ‘discipline’ category


My 2yo hit me in the face this afternoon, completely without warning (so it seemed).
I held his hands, “I won’t let you hit me.”
He cried, fought against me, tried to get his hands free.
“I love you, and I won’t let you hit me,” I repeated, with a kind tone of voice while I held his hands firmly, but without hurting him.
He cried a bit more, then yelled, “Mama! I need sleep!”, rolled away from me, and fell asleep almost instantly!

When our kids misbehave, it’s so easy to put the fault on either them or ourselves. It’s much more useful to look for signs of PHALTT – do they need to Potty? Are they Hungry? Anxious? Lonely? Tired? Thirsty? Little ones have an even harder time regulating their behavior when these factors are present than we do, and I know I’ve been irritable and acted unreasonably when I’m feeling one or more of them.

The resulting behaviors don’t call for punishment, but for meeting the needs they indicate while modeling respect for both yourself AND the child, by enforcing boundaries with kind words and gentle hands. Before long, you’ll start to see them regulate their own needs and behaviors: my four year old knows to ask for a snack or a potty break when she starts feeling that way, and even the 2 year old asks for a hug when he’s feeling nervous or lonely.

What questions would you add to the PHALTT checklist?

The BOOP Game

by Allen Goldblatt (click for original)

Siblings Without Rivalry has been on my “to-read” list for months, and I finally sat down with a copy this weekend. The next day (yes, it was that good), I closed the last page of the book, full of new ideas but (as always) some feelings of inadequacy – I see great potential for the principles, but can I implement them?

I didn’t make any specific plans or goals, but found my morning playing out an example of one of the book’s key ideas: “Give children in fantasy what they don’t have in reality.”

My 4 year old daughter threw her smoothie to the floor shortly after breakfast. I asked her to clean it up, and she darted away.

“Ugh!” I groaned, “don’t you just wish you didn’t even have to get a cleaning cloth and wipe it up? You could just yell BOOP and it’d be all clean?”

She giggled as she came back, “yeah, and BOOP and the dishes were in the sink.”

“Yes!” I agreed, “and BOOP, they’re in the dishwasher, clean!”

We shared a laugh, and she ran to the kitchen.

“BOOP!” she exclaimed as she opened the drawer with the cleaning cloths, “BOOP!” as she wet one under the sink, “BOOP” for each and every individual dot of smoothie (yes, by this point I wished I’d chosen a less annoying sound, haha) she rubbed clean.

Our little game lasted another half or or so, the word popping up here and there as she completed tasks she didn’t really want to do (occasionally reminding me SHE wasn’t doing it, the BOOP did it for her). Morning chores were hassle-free, full of laughter instead of nagging.

I love seeing tiny changes in my perspective yield huge ones in her attitude!

Photo courtesy of Allen Goldblatt

Q & A: How do you discipline?

How do I discipline? When I’m asked this question, I wonder if the person asking is feeling desperate with behaviors going on in their own families, and I wonder if they’re hoping for a label: “I use such-and-such patented foolproof parenting solution!”

When I’m asked this question, though, I need to know more. What kind of situation? What age? How do you define “discipline”?

We use positive/gentle discipline, but it rarely mirrors the “discipline” many people seem to expect to see… we focus on proactive connectedness and playfulness, lots and lots of listening, talking through situations and working together as a family to solve problems, setting and maintaining loving boundaries, and modeling how to calm down when our emotions are beginning to overwhelm us.

What guides your parenting choices?