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Moms Talk Q&A: How Do You Handle Discipline?

Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences in our comments section below!

Each week, we offer a new topic for parents to discuss in our Moms Talk Q&A. Our Newton Moms Council experts will share their insight and we want you to do the same in the comments section below!

This week's question: How do you handle discipline? It can be a touchy subject or some, especially new parents. What is effective when saying "no"?

Kristine Munroe April 27, 2011 at 03:19 PM
My son is only 17 months, so I don't really have anything figured out, discipline-wise. I say "no" if my son is doing something he shouldn't. If he still doesn't listen (usually the case), I relocate him, removing him from whatever he's doing. He usually ends up in frustrated tears, but he gets over it pretty quickly.
Megan McGrory-Massaro April 27, 2011 at 03:30 PM
I read the book Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Cohen and it blew my mind. Instead of focusing on discipline, the book emphasizes connection. I haven't had to try much out with my 12 month old, so it's really just theory now. But I'm hoping I will be able to use some of the tools from the book, rather than relying on time outs and yelling - the ways I was disciplined!
Wendy Schapiro April 27, 2011 at 03:53 PM
With teenagers, saying "no" really HAS to be accompanied by some sort of explanation. I actually had an issue with my son being on Facebook while doing homework the other day, and though I started off with a very calm, logical explanation of why this was a bad idea...it quickly devolved into me saying, "I am the parent, and you're going to do this BECAUSE I SAID SO!" Ugh ugh ugh. "Because I said so" doesn't work for ME (quite the opposite, in fact), so why would I use that with my child? Bad parenting there, Wendy. But when my kids were younger, I *did* find that a balance of firm guidelines and age-appropriate explanation led them to be able to make a lot of decisions for themselves, thus avoiding MY having to say "no" as much. It is a lot more effort-intesive at first, but well worth it in the long run.
Joan Koffman April 27, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Wendy: It's always tricky with teenagers, I think. The way we deal with our 17-yr old is this: Here's what needs to get done. You can choose when and how to do it. If it gets done, great. If it doesn't, there will be consequences. Much like real life, we've learned that stating the rules clearly up front....and always being united in our approach...really works, for the most part. There are always exceptions, like when we do lose our tempers. But, mostly, we now live with a smart young man who understands that his actions have results...and his lack of action has consequences. That's a GREAT deal for parents to impart to their teens....especially once they start driving! And did I mention how important it is to be united? Two parents....one act....that's how we roll.
Melanie Graham (Editor) April 27, 2011 at 11:10 PM
Here is a comment from one of our council members, Andrea, who could not log on today: "Without a doubt discipline has been the issue that has driven me to read the most parenting books, look for support groups, get advice and even make an appointment with our pediatrician (who is also a behavioral pediatrician). Whatever I do it might work great a few times and then I need a new trick or technique. At 21 months, my youngest boy is beginning to respond to short firm sentences combined with a physical action (like coming down to meet his eyes and holding his shoulders). I could go on and on about different tricks and advice but I will try to be brief: 1) Trust your gut. If you don't like what you are doing, you can find a better way. 2) Talk frankly to other parents and share experiences. This can give the strength you need to be firm and options for when you need other ideas. 3) Never underestimate how much your kids will understand. If you speak clearly and use gestures even a one and a half year old will understand they did something wrong. 4) Model the behavior you want. If you want your kids to say please and thank you and not hit, you need to do the same which is sometimes difficult when they are pushing all your buttons and you are running on two cylinders because you only slept three hours the night before."
Melanie Graham (Editor) April 27, 2011 at 11:11 PM
...and the rest of Andrea's comment: "The book I am currently reading and really liking is "How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I am also a big fan of Mary Kurcinka's books: "Raising your spirited child" and "Kids, Parents and Power Struggles". I didn't think my child was spirited but it turned out to be a very helpful book not just to help understand my son but it helped me understand myself. Which in the end is the greatest challenge in parenting."
andrea_z April 28, 2011 at 02:04 PM
To Joan and Wendy: I am still reading "How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish and it has some great advice on how to connect with kids (preteens and teens too). I don't have teenagers but I think it could be useful. I too want to avoid the "because I said so" moments and it is not easy.
Wendy Schapiro April 28, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Joan, Word up! My ex-husband and I are divorced (quite amicably, thankfully), so we also deal with not only somewhat different "acceptable levels" in parenting but two entirely different households! Ironically, now that we don't have to co-parent under one roof we are much more able to hold up that all-important united front though. And the kids know that there is no point in going to one or the other with hopes of a different approach or response. Andrea, I have heard great things about that book! As a teacher, I know it's been recommended to parents who are struggling. And reading it NOW, before you have teenagers- very wise :)
andrea_z April 28, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Wendy - the book has been very helpful in dealing with my 4 year old and I am only half way through. It was recommended by our pediatrician. Kudos to you and your ex for being able to work together after a divorce.

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