K.S. asks from New Berlin, WI on July 21, 2009
I Need Discipline Advice!!
Hello, I am looking for some opinions and advice from all the wonderful mommies out there. My kids are 3 1/2 and almost 2. It is becoming very difficult for me to go in public with them alone. My 3 y-o is pretty good at staying close but we're stuggling with listening and my almost 2 y-o is impossible. He wants to run constantly and touch everything. I'm not sure how to disciipline them in public without making a scene. I don't know what to do but I feel like they're starting to run my life! I'm so tired of looks from other people and I feel like my son is becoming out of control. Is this a phase? Should I be disciplining in public? What can I do to not make such a scene? I'd love to hear any tips or tricks, but I don't know how I feel about a "leash".
So What Happened?™
Thanks so much for all the advice. I've been thinking about this a ton in the last 24 hours and I've realized that I've been slowly letting too much go so I've pulled out the "iron fist" today and hopefully within the week I'll have my darlings back. I really like the bathroom idea since I don't think timeouts would work in the aisle since my son would only stay if I held him down...too much of a scene for me. I really do appreciate all your words of advice, I think I just needed a little push to raise my expectations of them. It's too easy to think that I'm expecting too much when I know they both understand way more than I'm letting them. You guys are great!
S.C. answers from Des Moines on July 22, 2009
I know you've had a ton of responses, but I just wanted to say that in a world of automatic doors a "leash" can LITERALLY be a life saver! I have one of those Monkey back packs and my son loves it-- he brings it to me when he wants to go out!
A.H. answers from Omaha on July 22, 2009
I used to think a "kid leash" was cruel until I had my own toddler that runs amok! I am seriously considering one myself and have come to the point that if people want to throw dirty looks my way, then so be it. I welcome them if it is going to keep my child out of harm's way.
Also look at Jim Fay's book Parenting with Love and Logic. I believe he also has one specifically for very young children too. The books are a quick read and very useful. If you get the opportunity to participate in one of his workshops and here him speak...do it. He is a wonderful speaker. He tells stories of his own experiences with children as an educator and parent. Good luck!
T.O. answers from Minneapolis on July 22, 2009
It is a phase. It is kind of a long phase. I am just recently comfertable taking my 4 1/2 year old to restaraunts. My oldest, 9 yrs old, was easier at the toddler age, but I think that is because there was just one of her. You have 2 toddlers!!! I think it is ok to dicipline your kids in public. I think it teaches them that you are not going to accept different behavior in public. If people give you looks, IGNORE THEM. They obviously have never been in your shoes. I used to tell my kids that every where we went, there was a time out spot. I would say, "Do I have to find the time out spot in Target?" It would work most of the time.
I think you should cut yourself some slack, and if possible, get a babysitter for the necessities, like the grocery store. As they get older and are able to understand more, you can tell them on the way to your destination, how you expect them to act. That works well for me, if I remember to do it! When I tell my kids exactly how I want them to act, they usually do pretty good.
It is a hard phase you are in now. I remember not wanting to go anywhere with todddlers! It gets easier, hang in there.
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H.B. answers from Minneapolis on July 22, 2009
I have read everything posted and don't feel that I have much that is different to add. I would like to give cudos to what I believe are the three best responses and say congrats to all parents out there who don't let their kids rule their lives:
1. Set the expectation. My husband and I talk to our children on the way to an event or outing about our expectation for behavior and consequences for inappropriate behavior. There is no question in our children's minds what we expect of them at any time.
2. Discipline at the time of the offense (this does include spanking if necessary.) I do not wait to discipline a child, nor do I give up what I am there to do. I will interrput at anytime to handout the consequence, usually after 1 warning. I also do not yell at my child. I have found that when I am really angry or very serious, whispering in a deep tone and maintaining eye contact until they look away does better than yelling. They are usually already yelling, so that just makes the situation louder. Generally I will pull them close, get down to their eye level and tell them what I expect...
3. Leashes: Available at Target and most stores that carry baby/toddler items. Really, for me, this is just a matter of safety. I'd like to believe that after 1 and 2, there is not an issue, but I am not willing to sacrifice my child's saftey to test it. In public places (lots of people) or parking lots, these are a BACK UP to hand holding, not a "run at the end of the leash and pull me" mechanism.
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L.L. answers from Appleton on July 22, 2009
Ignore the people looking at you. If you feel you need to discipline, do so. I usually tell my 2 y-o that I am leaving and turn around. So far, she follows. Other things to try are discussions before you go out and maybe see about a small reward for good behavior. They'll pick up on it. If you are shopping, cart them...no matter what! If not, invest in a double stroller to keep them with you. It will save you heartache and hair pulling. Never let a stranger decide what actions you should take in public (as I ramble;) They may not have kids and never seem to understand what you are going through. Others will send a knowing glance your way as if to say "I know where you are mommy, good luck!"
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L.S. answers from Omaha on July 22, 2009
Yes, its a phase and yes, they are running your life! But it will get better. You might want to try taking the 3 yo out without the 2 yo and practice staying with mommy. Its easier to teach to him and praise him for listening on shorter trips. The 2 year old running behavior could be a phase, but I would limit the number and length of times you take him out with the 3 year old. 2 year olds do best with redirection, and a firm no, but often its just like herding cats (especially if your cats are active ones). In even 6 more months, your 4 year old will be even a more reliable listener and you'll be able to respond better to your little one out in public. For your sanity, plan your shopping with another adult, leave the kids at home, and/or make time for yourself by hiring a sitter or taking advantage of a local church's mommy's day out program.
Amen for naptime!
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T.M. answers from Des Moines on July 22, 2009
I will give you the same sage wisdom I give all of the parents whose children I watch. If you do not discipline constantly, consistently and firmly, you will have children who behave like this all the time. You cannot tell a child wait til we get home and expect them to be scared.
Time outs can be done everywhere. I have 8 children (the oldest 25 and the youngest 1) and have done time outs in store bathrooms, theatre hallways, by the side of the road facing the door of the car etc...
In addition, pre planning is key. If you are going out to dinner with small children, pack a small pac with snack food for the wait, a book, crayons, paper and a small toy or two. Make sure you give them a drink and snack before you go so they are not starving.
I would much rather see a mom disciplining her child in public than just letting them run around climbing things, which could end in an injury. I applaud you for your efforts. You just have to think of parenting in the long term. Society has expectations of your child, and if you don't help him understand that, you are setting him up to fail. So don't be shy about planting your child facing whatever wall is handy until he gets the idea that no means no.
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E.K. answers from Milwaukee on July 22, 2009
I have a four year old who is just getting to the point where he doesn't run every chance he gets, although he still does on occasion. I think it is more of a personality thing than a discipline thing. I am not a spanker and all the talking and preparing in the world didn't seem to help. If I could rewind time I would get a leash or a harness. They make cute ones now. I also opted to get babysitters when I went shopping every chance I got. AND if I had to take him with me...I would put him in the cart if he ran. But sitting in the cart would lead to wanting to get out...so I would give him another chance so on and so forth. Good luck. You are not alone with this. We also ended up building a fence in our back yard from all the running. We just took it down. I think growing older helps the most.
G.W. answers from Minneapolis on July 22, 2009
When it works, I put my 3 year old in the back of the cart and my 1 year old in the front part of the cart, that way they are secure.
If my son ever acts up in public, which he has a lot, I just find a spot and put him in a time out for 2 minutes. We are just getting over a difficult patch with him as he used to scream at the top of his lungs and hit a lot. Very frustrating and embarassing in public. I learned to just ignore the dumb people who looked at me like I was the dummy and smiled at the people who gave me the "been there look"
Another thing we did was to put his favorite cars in time out. Now, he is great in public.
J.W. answers from Minneapolis on July 22, 2009
I completely agree that consistent and firm (but not mean) discipline is necessary any where and at any time. Your ultimate consequence is "we will go home right now" - and follow up on it. It may be inconvenient for you a few times to have to leave somewhere before *you* are ready, but it'll only take a few times, and then it won't happen anymore. Also, this may seem obvious, but think about the double umbrella stroller. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get one (although you can) - and if you're someplace where they're going to be bored (and so more likely to do inappropriate things) you can provide snacks and toys etc much more easily if they're trapped. Not that this is a substitute for learning boundaries and rules, but your two-year-old is young to be expecting him not to run and touch everything he sees - that's still totally developmentally appropriate for him, and I think if you expect him not to (especially in situations where he's likely to be bored) you're just setting yourself and him up for a lot of frustration. Not that you don't enforce the boundary, but be compassionate when he can't follow through - he's just very little and still naturally very impulsive. Even your three-year-old is developmentally still just learning to govern her impulses. So, yes, firm boundaries, but also avoid and/or prevent situations where they're going to be bored and tempted to follow their impulses in ways that will be inappropriate for the situation.