Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lesson #1: Discipline is Easy!

(Until it's fun . . .)

You're standing in the cookie aisle at the grocery store when suddenly you hear it from down near the Oreos: "Mommy, I want those ones!" This is quickly followed by, "No, honey, not this time," and you cringe, waiting for what might come next; and sure enough, here it comes. "But I want Oreos!"

Before you know it, there's a screaming child and an embarrassed mother just a few feet away from you. Then, just as quickly, it's quiet again and two packages of Oreos have been hastily shoved into the buggy to bring back peace on earth and goodwill toward Mom. But the thought now running through every adult mind within earshot is: "Did she seriously just give that brat what he wanted?! I could have that kid straightened out in half a day!"

I think it's fairly safe to say that at least 90% of us have experienced something like this, and sworn that any child of our own will never behave like that in public. I know I have on numerous occasions. And once I became a nanny I started doing my homework to make absolutely sure I knew the ins and outs of discipline and would never have bratty children. I read books. I watched Supernanny. I talked to other moms. Most importantly, I observed both good and bad discipline in action on a daily basis and took notes for future reference.

Then, I got to practice. Current job being a prime example of my experiences, I shall use it to illustrate.

Miss Byrd starts a new job. Two year old Bee Bug has never had real discipline, but is a fairly well-behaved child despite that. He is beginning to be a bit of a handful, however, so Miss Byrd immediately discusses the proper use of Timeout with Bug's parents. They voice their approval and the training begins.

At first, Bug is shocked that someone has dared to thwart his will, and each Timeout is a battle of epic proportions. At last he learns that running away is futile, disobedience will be punished, and Miss Byrd means business. Timeout is working.

At the same time, he's learning that tantrums are ignored. (This is the easiest part of discipline.) Bug can be having a full-out fit with screaming and tears and flailing around on the floor, and Miss Byrd is across the room reading a book, or washing dishes, or playing with the baby. After a few weeks, his tantrums last all of five seconds, or fail to appear all together.

Yes, sirree, this discipline thing is easy peasy!

Then, suddenly, Bug discovers that he can thwart the system and make Timeout fun! Now Miss Byrd is grasping at straws, trying to make it work!! None of the books cover the issue. Supernanny never dealt with these kinds of mini masterminds. And other mothers say, "Spank 'em!" which is expressly forbidden by Miss Byrd's contract.

Timeout began on the entryway rug. . . . Ever heard the phrase: "snug as a bug in a rug?" Yeah. Apparently it's great fun to roll oneself up in a rug.

Timeout was therefore moved to a chair. Now Bug has learned that when he stands up in the chair and tries to climb over the back of it, Miss Byrd heads his direction and an awesome game ensues.

Other possible Timeout locations have been tried or considered and rejected one by one. Bug has learned that Timeout is no big deal and Miss Byrd has learned a valuable lesson: Discipline is easy . . . until it's fun.

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