I saw an episode of Supernanny not too long ago where parents were letting their child play with a dull machete. Yes, a machete. While watching, Husband and I were appalled. Who lets their kids play with machetes? (We don't own one, so it wouldn't be an issue with us, of course.)
The show got me thinking, though. Am I going to be the parent who gives in to the child? Or am I going to be firm and lovingly show authority. Or am I going to be a combination of those?
We've finally come to the point where we seem to be saying no to Baby quite a lot. She's in the adventurous stage where she wants to get into everything.
I think I've done a pretty fair job of babyproofing, but there are some things that I just can't fix. Plus, I've read a lot that kids need to learn boundaries early on (does Baby count as a kid?).
The cat food is the first tantalizing temptation. It lies there in a little bowl, the same size as her Gerber Puffs, but with multiple colors calling her name. She knows she is not supposed to touch it (I think that was the first time we told her no). Each time she crawls around the floor she will look longingly at it, and scoot a little closer. Eventually, though she tries to resist, she starts to reach out.
Immediately Husband or I will say,"no." Depending on her mood, she may back off. Other times she will sit there and stare at it. Or if she's feeling rambunctious, she will reach out and grab it. We will take it out of her hand (or her mouth if she was quick), tell her no, and put her somewhere else. She will promptly crawl back to it as fast as her little hands and knees will take her.
About this point I just pick up the food dishes and stick them on the counter top. Situation over.
Baby also has a fascination with electrical outlets. These I don't have the luxury of moving. We have the plugs in them, but Baby still likes to go over to them and try to play with them. Not something we encourage. We tell her no, distract her, and depending on her mood she will perhaps stop. Or perhaps she will look at us like we are crazy and go right back to trying to eat the outlet plug or pry the little plastic piece out (she's pretty sneaky). Usually a fit ensues.
Baby is much better at listening to Husband than listening to me. He will tell her no (more like he yells NO at her), and she will sit there with her little bottom lip quivering. She will glance at me, to see my reaction, and I will give her a stern face as well. Then she will get sad and crawl over to me to pick her up.
When Husband isn't home, it's up to me to tell her no. I do, but she doesn't seem to listen.
For example, when she torments the cat (who is so dumb he refuses to run away and instead lets his fur get ripped out), I will tell her no. She will do it again. I tell her no again. I try to be stern and make my face seem serious (I learned this from Supernanny). Sometimes I will have to physically move her away. Then she might cry. Here is where I am lost. Do I pick her up and comfort her? Do I let her cry? For how long? Five seconds? A minute?
Maybe I need to find a good discipline book to help answer these questions.
I never thought I would have to deal with this issue. As a teacher, I tell my students the rules up front. When they break them, they receive a consequence. Sometimes the consequence is a phone call home where I tell the parents what happened and they give a consequence.
I am Baby's parent. Aren't I supposed to know what to do?
But I don't.
Maybe it's a phase and we'll be able to communicate a little better when she's a little older.
Can babies do time-out?
In the meantime, I'm going to try not to be the machete parent. Really.