Sunday, March 28, 2010

Limit Setting

Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. ~Proverbs 29:17

Since Carson suddenly became a toddler (it seriously happened overnight)I had a hard time adjusting from baby angelic behavior to all the sudden testing the limits. He developed a new look that he would give me when he was being mischievous and he started hitting me when he felt like he wasn't getting the attention he deserved. It was a shock and took me a couple of months to adjust. During that time I was reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. I had read his book The Happiest Baby on the Block and loved it so I thought for a book on disciplining toddlers, I would start with an author I trusted. He had some good ideas in his book and over the last month or so I have putting them into practice. I went from feeling out of control to feeling like now there is a healthy balance. In his book, Dr. Karp, mostly encourages you to prevent the bad behavior in the fist place by spending adequate time with your child and praising wanted behavior and doing what's called "filling the meter." He also has some other great tips that help, but it's not going to prevent everything.

Things I had been putting up with because Carson was only a toddler with no self-control, I realized could be stopped. It was a marvelous feeling! Dr. Karp suggests that hitting and biting should be instant consequences, no warnings for those behaviors and pick one other family rule that is an instant consequence. Well our family rule quickly became no throwing gravel into the yard. This had been an issue where I was constantly saying no and then picking up the gravel as he threw it and getting frustrated. Then I stopped, did a quick head smack, and said "what the heck am I doing?" I picked up Carson took him inside, closed the slider glass door and went back outside myself. He had a melt down, but it only lasted a minute and once he calmed down, I let him outside to play again and he hasn't thrown the gravel since. That was three weeks ago! Not everything is going to go that smoothly, but I realized for the benefit of both of us, I really needed to set limits and I could do it without getting angry or spanking. It just hit me like a ton of bricks that someday he's going to be a man and I want him to be a responsible man, a loving husband, and a good father, and that process starts now.

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