Monday, October 01, 2007

Well That Makes Me Feel Better

I picked up Barbara Coloroso's book, Kids Are Worth It! (yeah, I don't like the title either), off my bookshelf today to refresh my memory on some of her ideas. In Chapter 6, she talks about the three typical "rebellious" periods of a child's life: around ages 2, 5, and of course, puberty. These developmental stages of a child's life are absolutely normal and necessary for them to become fully mature and independent human beings. (I repeat to myself over and over and over and. . . !)

As you may or may not know, I have a 2 year old and a 5 year old, so they are double-teaming me in "developmentally appropriate" ways these days. These people are rebelling off of me so often and so vigorously I feel like a tennis racket. Yup, they are right on target. (Hooray for wine!)

I was rather relieved to read this passage on page 103:

The five-year-old takes great glee in publicly contradicting both Mom and Dad when either of them tries to relate an incident to a friend. ("Mom, you've got that wrong. I didn't say that to my brother." "But, Dad, you've got the whole story wrong!")

Yes! Yes! A thousand times YES!

Their behavior is developmentally appropriate and it's driving me appropriately mental. At least my life isn't boring! I'm really not complaining--they are great kids. It's just at the end of the day....I'm tired.

Kids Are Worth It! (I know, I know) is a great book about the discipline method that we employ (or try our hardest to employ) with our children. You may have heard it called positive discipline or positive parenting or even non-punitive discipline. It's not as cheerlead-y as it sounds. Nor is it a big excuse for parents to forego discipline entirely. (I know what you were thinking as you read the words "non-punitive!")

The subtitle to KAWI sums up the entire positive discipline philosophy best: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline. With an emphasis on Inner.

Parenting philosophies often focus too much on controlling the child. Which has its points and temptations, trust me. But I think that if the parent is overly focused on controlling the kid, then ultimately the child is done a disservice because he does gain the absolutely necessary ability to control himself.

For example, I don't think putting a child in "Time Out" really provides him with an opportunity to learn self-control. It tells the child, "If I do X, then I will sit here." Sure, that gets you some peace in the short run, but in the long run, I think I want the child to think, "If I do X, then Y and Z will or will probably happen. I don't like it when Y and Z happen, so I will not do X." Y and Z here are natural or logical consequences to inappropriate behavior. Here's a quick example: "If you throw the book, you lose your turn with the book." (As for time outs, sometimes, yes, it's necessary to remove the child from a heated situation, but in positive discipline, the parent goes with the child and helps the child get back in control of himself. The child is not sent away until he "can behave better.")

I am merely a positive discipline practitioner (on most days), so if you are new to this idea, I suggest you consult the experts for a better (and certainly more concise, as I am verbose-woman lately) explanation. The blurb on the back of KAWI says it nicely: "This bestselling guide . . . focuses on helping kids develop their own self-discipline by owning up to their mistakes, thinking through solutions and correcting their misdeeds while leaving their dignity intact."

I have more to say on this subject, particularly more about how it aligns well with my Objectivist principles and my values, but it will have to be tomorrow, for it is very late, and I need to sleep.

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