My son has been having a temper tantrum for the last half hour because he doesn’t want to rinse his mouth after brushing his teeth. And no matter what I say, he absolutely refuses. I’m at my wits end, what am I supposed to do?
Do I continue to hold him hostage until he finally gives in. That could take hours. Is it really worth it?
So many of us parents go through this daily and find all of our methods to discipline to be completely ineffective. Fortunately, I have been given the chance to work with ZERO TO THREE, an organization that provides resources for parents of babies and toddlers. They understand that parents don’t always have the answers on the best ways to discipline our kids.
From their national Parent Survey, Tuning In, ZERO TO THREE found that over half of parents said their biggest challenge was handling their kids when they misbehave. The parents felt the discipline methods they were using were not effective and struggled to find a better way. ZERO TO THREE has created guiding principles for parents to use when developing a plan to curb The Discipline Dilemma.
I’m not going to go over all of them because I want you to check out ZERO TO THREE and see how many wonderful resources they have. I will tell you, however, how we have been using them to help our son work through his emotions so that he will misbehave less often.
My son is 3 years old, but he’s the size of some Kindergartners so it becomes easy to forget that his behavior is age-appropriate. He won’t start developing self-control until he is closer to 4 and expecting him to realize he is acting as if he is hopped up on bath salts is as irrational as he is. We can’t hope our children will act like adults when their brains aren’t as developed as one.
Allow your children to work through their emotions, instead of stifling them. We need to provide an environment in which they can learn how to express themselves in a manner that doesn’t force them to lash out. Not force them to stifle their feelings for “appropriate behavior.” The purpose of discipline is so they can learn what their feelings are that cause them to misbehave and eventually gain control over them.
Imagine how it would feel if your roles were reversed and you were unable to explain how you felt. You might get frustrated and lash out, too. It is not our job to punish their age-appropriate behavior. We are here to help them learn how to define and express their feelings so they can gain control over them. Once we can learn for ourselves that they are truly just children who are growing and learning too, we can all take a step back and maybe rinse our mouth out after brushing our teeth.