Thursday, August 11, 2011

Discipline: The dirty little word

I can still remember when caring for my son meant simply meeting his day-to-day needs. But somewhere along the way he developed something called a WILL and OPINION about every aspect of life.

Suddenly, my cherbic offspring went from following direction and being easy to passify to an entirely different little human. This child tells me where to sit, what he wants to eat, says 'no' and then changes his mind in a fit of tears, tests my direction (such as "come here", "don't touch", and "be nice to the dogs"), and sometimes decides that our errands for the day are not part of HIS agenda. Some days, the slightest bump in the road will send him spiraling into a meltdown. And yesterday for the first time, he ran in the opposite direction when I tried to steer him to the car. Fortunately, he was not in danger but could have been if we were not in Pat's yard.

And with this new trial and test of my limits comes a new descent into discipline. At home, of course, it's easier. I have two time-out spots, safety, and shelter from the prying eye of the public. And if the situation calls for it, a spatula to use for a swat.

But now that tantrums and outright disobedience is trickling into our public outings, the issue is more complicated. It's not always easy to remove my son from a public place to discipline in private, and sometimes he's crying too hard to talk to. In those times, all I can do is leave where we are and deal with it when we get to the car-- if that's an option.

I do understand that sometimes a meltdown is the result of badly needing a nap. It's every parent's challenge to find their balance between when a tired child's crankiness should be overlooked or faced head-on. I hate being that parent/child in a store that's causing a scene. But I also don't believe in giving into a bad attitude by offering candy or impulsively buying a new toy to try and quiet my unhappy little one.

I know that this is just a time we're going through, and some days I feel more or less capable of handling what he throws my way. But at least I understand that being two means coming to terms with new emotions he's experiencing and trying to find the words to express his thoughts and feelings. I know it's frustrating and I know he understands that no matter what, I love him. And at the end of the day, he's still my best buddy who says goodnight with not one but TWO hugs and a kiss.

And I know that everything will be allright.

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