Yeah, I'm just going to focus on my toddler today. But first let me add a little background. I used to be pro-spanking. Until my oldest was 3.5, and I decided I needed to find something better. I never felt that spanking was appropriate. I never felt like I was doing the right thing, and I didn't think that it was biblical. I mean, how could a loving Jesus possibly tell me it was okay to hit my child? Never made sense to me. The problem was, I didn't know any other way of disciplining. I had always been taught that children who we not spanked grew up spoiled, horrible brats. Turns out, it was the permissive parenting that caused that. Not lack of spanking, but lack of discipline completely. So, when Cias was 3.5, I found a wonderful message board that introduced me to the wonders of gentle/positive discipline. Meaning, I could discipline my child with out spanking. With out fear. With out shame. Without humiliation. I was skeptical at first. I said 'right, you all have easy, compliant kids who listen all the time. This wouldn't work for MY kid.' How wrong I was. God softened my heart and made me see that it would, in fact, work for my "strong-willed" son. So I began to put it into practice.
Fortunately, I had time to learn more by the time my 2nd child came along. He is more "strong-willed", spirited, and stubborn than my oldest ever was. And he is fiercely independent. He's just like me. I call him my clone. My poor parents...... :)
Background over: I realized recently that I have a choice in disciplining my 2.5 year old. I can force my will on him and spank him for not doing things exactly how and when I say, or I can teach him and guide him to do what is right.
An example: Sammy, acting as a typical 2.5 year old, dumps cereal on the floor. Age expected, but not okay. So the conversation goes as follows-
Mommy: Sammy, you may not throw cereal on the floor. Please pick it up.
Sammy: *does nothing*
Mommy: Sammy, can you do it yourself, or do you need mommy to help?
Sammy: I do it myself!!!! *and proceeds to pick up the cereal*
Sammy: Mama help me! *and we pick up the cereal together*
He learns that throwing cereal on the floor is not okay, and that he has to clean it up. He also learns that mommy is willing to help him and mommy is there for him.
The phrase "can you do it yourself, or do you need mama's help?" has been wonderful. We use it when we are leaving places. When we need to clean up. When we need to buckle into the car seat.
So, choices in discipling my toddler? I'll choose gentle discipline, and give him the opportunity to make choices.