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Monday
Jun132011

NOT MY LITTLE ANGEL?: DISCIPLINE AND YOUR TODDLER - WHEN IT'S NOT YOUR JOB, WHOSE IS IT?

You know the punch line to the old joke: "Ward, quit being so hard on the Beaver." And that's how the world used to work- Dad was  the one who called all the shots in both the bedroom with Mom and when it came to "educating" the kids. When they were "bad," albeit for different reasons, Mom and the kids both got spanked.  But, things change, and today not only is Mom a dominatrix (when she's not too tired) in the bedroom- and domineering with you when it comes to how to handle your duties as a father- but she also has no problem playing the role of disciplinarian with the kids.

I mean, let's be honest, she's always been in control, but now she's no longer content to pull the strings from behind the scenes; she's out in front, taking the lead. I remember being a kid, watching a show called "Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home," and the whole idea was if you didn't behave you were going to get "it", whatever that was, from your dad. But that no longer holds true, and fathers no longer want that role.  Dads always been happiest to play the role of the good guy, and now that Mom has no problem taking off her boomerang shoe and letting it fly (Ala Eddie Murphy "Delirious"), we can do what we do best- play video games with our kids and watch cartoons.

I mean, who can really discipline a toddler? I can't say no to that face, even if there's a devilish smile on it. In my mind, my daughter can do no wrong. Sure, I try to teach her to play nice with the dogs, and not to pick her nose, but until she's tall enough to put her hand on the stove, rob a liquor store, or date, I'm not inclined to impede her natural curiosity or her need to do stupid sh*@ that isn't really hurting anybody. If she not bullying the kid next to her in day care, I say let the Duplo Blocks fall where they may. Live, and let live- we all get our turn to play with the Tickle Me Elmo doll.

For now, I want my daughter to feel like the world is her oyster to ravage as she sees fit....There's plenty of time to break it to her that the world we live in is made up of rules and most of them suck. There's plenty of time to pull back the curtain and show her that the wizard is nothing more than some weasly old guy who has no real magic left in him. I don't want to be the one to tell her that Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, was about as socially inappropriate as a pedophile (or, to a more accurate extent, Jerry Lee Lewis).

Childhood is about fantasy- not reality. And discipline is part of the reality I don't want to expose my daughter to, as yet. So that means no corporal punishment (for one it's been outlawed- speaking of rules- and two it doesn't work, especially now that your kids know how to throw child services in your face and/or threaten legal or civil action against you). That also means no time-outs - the lesser of two evils, but still not a pleasant prospect for the father who wants to be perceived as the "good guy." And this also means not threatening to take stuff away or remove her from her favorite things because if I did that I'd be robbed of the joy of watching my daughter find her calling as either an electrician ("don't touch the socket"), a veterinarian ("No, honey, we don't stick our fingers in the sleeping dog's bum"), or a demolition specialist ("F*#@! I just put all of that away!"). She'll be an escape artist ("Where's Dylan? Oh, crap...Who left the door open to the basement?").  She'll start her fair share of food fights (my dogs already love her for it), and she'll push my buttons in each and every way she can, but I just can't bring myself to discipline her for it- yet.

For now, I'm happy to let my wife be the bad guy. It's not like my kid can really win- after all, it's hard to hate your Mommy and have Mommy-itis at the same time. So I'm just going to bide my time and be the playmate for now- but the second she goes through that Raven Simone/Tina Yothers not-so-cute phase I'm calling Super Nanny to show me what to do. (I bet she looks hot in a dominatrix get up... Or a french maid's outfit?
What? Like you weren't thinking it)?

Here's some helpful links on appropriate ways to discipline your kids- from infant to toddler and beyond:

http://www.babycenter.com/baby-discipline
http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/discipline.html
http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/discipline-behavior/8-tools-toddler-discipline
http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/discipline/tips/7-tips-for-disciplining-your-toddler/
http://babycarejournals.com/184/disciplining-your-toddler
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVFt7Ahs8gw
http://www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca/family/Preschool/BehaviourAndDiscipline.htm

Your wife (who can now be as hard on the Beaver as she wants- in most states) should find them very useful.

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Reader Comments (3)

Spot on! When my kids were toddlers I'd get scolded by adults for letting them say 'hi' to anyone they felt like saying 'hi' to. 'Stranger danger' don't you know??? As long as I'm there to watch those mean and terrible strangers I thought it was great that my kids were trusting and viewed people as kind. Most people are that way and it's the few whacko's who have tarnished mankinds image. As my kids have grown I've had to break the terrible news to them that there are some people to avoid but I let them stay as innocent as possible for as long as possible. You're right - there's plenty of time to introduce them to the real world.

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Ya. Im going through that whole say "hi" to everyone phase with my daughter right now. Funny thing is she's like an ambassador, putting smiles on people's faces and brightening even the gloomiest of days. Who would want to impede that? I like that she's outgoing...

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Dolgin

Always have had the policy that my children say "Hi" to a stranger. When I'm there nothing can go wrong and it teaches children to be comfortable in the world around them, not to be scared of it. I always taught them to listen to their gut instincts and most importantly follow them. These days, my older children are very confident & wordly, one son travels around the world, which involves talking to a lot of strangers. He is very successful, because strangers don't phase him.

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSjorcha Daynes

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