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Discipline ... trying to change.

I'm going to try to make a change from today .... a change in the way I discipline my children. I decided to write it down so that it's documented and I have a reminder of why I want to do it. 

Of late, I've become an impatient, shouty, smacking kind of mum and a) it's not working in terms of teaching the boys right from wrong and b) it's not the sort of mum I wanted to be when I envisaged myself with children. Now I know we all have ideals about what sort of parent we will be and frankly many of these go out of the window when we are actually doing it, but this is different. And I know it's not going to be easy. Old habits die hard and when the boys are really being naughty it will be easy to fall back in to the old ways but I'm determined to try.

What got me thinking about this was a post I saw from Bea at Esme Baby , a local company which sells attachment parenting and natural parenting products (www.esmebaby.co.uk). It was this picture about not smacking children. The sentence that stood out for me was this one:

"I am raising a human being who chooses to do right because it's right and not because he's afraid he will get smacked if he doesn't."

Don't get me wrong about smacking, I don't totally disagree with it. I was smacked as a child and it's done me no harm. I don't hate my parents, I don't hit people the minute they upset or argue with me, I do know right from wrong and I choose to do right (most of the time!) because I want to, and I want my children to do the same. But, I've started to smack too often. Not hard, but too frequently for things that are frankly minor and for things where it is totally counter intuitive to discipline with a smack - i.e. when my nearly 3 year old hits his 5 year old brother. It hardly teaches him this is wrong when the discipline is Mummy smacking his bottom does it. He's quite an 'angry' little boy (even in his sleep, he often shouts out 'angry' phrases in his sleep) and I'd really like to help to let go of that.Although we've disciplined both the boys in the same way they are completely different characters, so I do think some of it is to do with nature, but I also don't think that our way of disciplining the boys has helped my youngest's behaviour and emotions.

What's been the hardest thing to admit to as well, is that much of the behaviour I feel I have to discipline could probably be avoided if I wasn't so busy trying to do house and work things all the time (and if I was a bit more organised I would get those things done much quicker), rather than playing with or spending dedicated time with the boys. It's a tough one because I chose to go self employed to be able to be with the boys more and I do spend more time with them now than when I was working full time but as anyone who runs their own business knows, it's hard to switch off and that's what I also need to get better at.

Take this morning for example. Instead of trying to juggle getting everyone dressed, making breakfast and packed lunches with catching up on any emails at the same time, this morning we just concentrated on getting sorted. I got much less stressed, we had much more time, and consequently I didn't end up shouting at the boys for dawdling around because we were running late. We left the house early and had a leisurely stroll to school with no hurrying them along. When my 2 year old did pull his brother's hair, I took a deep breath and calmly told him it wasn't nice or kind and got him to apologise. Now, this doesn't generally deter him from doing it again, so any advice on calm but effective ways to manage his behaviour in this respect would be gratefully received. 

So I'm going to try and be calmer, not raise my voice as often and not smack in anger. With my 5 year old I will try to reason as much as possible, even if it is the 100th time I've told him something. With my 3 year old I may have to adopt a time out approach as I don't feel he is old enough to reason with just yet. I hope that in time, with a calmer approach they will also become calmer and not look back and remember that Mummy was always cross.

So that's a bit of an outpouring but I needed to get it down on 'paper'. I hope I haven't bored you! I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on discipline,especially for younger children.

I'll keep you posted with an honest appraisal of how I've got on.


  1. goodness, I could have written this post myself! it's good to see that it's not just me then - it's so tempting to check emails in the morning but then i get distracted and forget all about lunch boxes and missing school shoes. And before I know it the 5 min school walk has turned into a 2 min shouty run and I spend the rest of the day beating myself up with the bad mummy stick.
    I have 6 yr and 3 yr boys and my youngest is proving to be a challenge too at the moment. I've realised though that most of the flash points come when I unwittingly expect him to behave as well as his brother, rather than as the 3 year old he really is. Sometimes I need to remind myself to give him some slack. Good luck with it all - I look forward to hearing how you're doing.

  2. Hi Helen.

    Sometimes it's good to know it's not just you hey!

    I've not completely succeeded thus far, but I've not completed failed either I don't feel. I have noticed that on the days I am calmer, the boys are too. I have days when I'm able to keep calm, and some when I don't, but I honestly feel more of the calm days than we used to have!

    A friend sent me this link the other day after she'd read this post - you might find it interesting too! http://theorangerhino.com

    Good luck!