Thursday, April 2, 2009


With Katie's new Banshee/Godzilla development, I wanted to revisit our discipline strategy so that Jim and I might work together to counter this issue and get through it intact. Both of us discipline Katie, but we don't always do it in a similar enough fashion to give Katie clearly defined boundaries. This is something that I have always struggled with and it starts early on in my marriage while listening to Jim talk about disciplining his younger brother, Jeffrey.

Jeffrey was 10 when his parents divorced, while Jim was 16. In many ways, Jim became Jeffrey's father figure. Since Jim's mom's discipline was often inconsistent, Jim became extremely strict with Jeffrey. Rules were black and white to him. If you break it, nothing can save you from the consequences.

This is how I interpreted Jim's method of discipline before we had children and I always knew we were going to have issues because I don't agree that the rules are always black and white. I think that chances are needed to get things right and the rules can have shades of grey. I've been afraid of one main thing: that I would see Jim's discipline of our child as too strict and subconsciously try to counteract that by swinging to far the other direction and be a pushover who ends up with a terror for a child.

We decided, when Katie turned one, that we would use the 1-2-3 Magic method to discipline Katie. We don't do it the exact way they say to in the book but we have worked out a way that works for us...mostly. I still haven't felt entirely comfortable with the whole process and end up feeling like I've counted to 2 and she doesn't even understand the consequences so how can I not give her another chance? Unfortunately, my discomfort has led to, I think, my being too lenient at times and keeping Katie from responding to my discipline. Then, sometimes, I undermine Jim's attempt at discipline because I feel like he's being unreasonable. Basically, I've turned into my worst fear, or I will if I don't work on my own attitude adjustment.

Jim and I had a good discussion this evening about discipline and how we can deal with Godzilla/Banshee. I mentioned my issues and feeling like she needs more chances because she's not understanding the consequences. Jim reminded me that the point of 1-2-3 magic is that 1 and 2 ARE her chances. If we count correctly and appropriately then 1 and 2 are the chances she has to reform her behavior. If she doesn't listen, she'll figure out the consequences and she'll figure out that we're serious.

This is more of a thought shift for me. As long as I remember that, by counting, I am giving her the chances that I feel are necessary. This will help me hold a firmer line when Godzilla/Banshee comes out.

I think we still need to revisit the idea of start behaviors versus stop behaviors though. Some of the issues we're encountering are Katie's refusal to put her diaper and pajamas on after bath, or wash her hands after going to the bathroom. Counting and putting her in time out just prolongs the bedtime routine and the longer she's up, the worse it gets (and the worse tomorrow will be). As with all parenting issues, discipline is a process. As soon as I figure this stage out, the next one will knock on my door.