I had posted a picture on my Instagram stories about Big Nugget being reunited with her Ipad. Other parents wrote saying they had struggled with knowing what appropriate discipline was for their kids. The preschool age range is challenging because some days they act like big kids and other days they act like big babies. There are so many transitions in this stage for them, read about what works for us at preschool drop off here, that it’s easy to see how they can flip back and forth so easily.
We’ve found what works for us, for our kid. This is by no means a slam on other styles or philosophies or lifestyles. This isn’t a perfect solution. This is just what works for us and maybe something here might help you.
We had really been struggling with bedtimes lately with her using any and all stall tactics to get us to stay in her room with her. She would start to cry and throw a fit…every night…so we took her beloved Ipad away until she could do 3 good bedtimes in a row.
Usually, Big Nugget is a very well behaved kid, I call her the Holy Grail of Children. She doesn’t throw tantrums when she doesn’t get something at the store. She isn’t sassy. She’s pretty emotionally mature and can articulate what she’s feeling which I realize is pretty unusual for a 3 year old. There are still some things that will set her off – hell hath no fury like a Big Nugget who receives a broken Z-bar – but I generally know what sets her off or she will tell me she’s either tired or hungry.
Nature vs Nurture
Some of this is just her natural temperament but some if it is how we treat her.
There are a million resources for parents on parentings and just as many philosophies and techniques. I was raised in a spanking household and my husband and I agreed back when we were still dating that we didn’t want to do that to our kids. For me, it just instilled fear, not respect, and seemed counter intuitive to the lead by example type of parent I wanted to be. We don’t necessarily subscribe to one type of parenting style, it’s mostly just a gut instinct on what works for our kid.
We’ve known from pretty early on that time outs weren’t going to work for her and it also just went against that gut instinct for us. She’s super sensitive and sending her off in the corner just seemed cruel to us. Now, she will tell me if she just wants to be alone. She’ll take a minute then come ask for a hug. Or if she’s really upset, we’ll sit together and both calm down then tackle what the trigger was. Cause let’s face it, there are times when I am the one that needs a time out just as much as she does.
Discipline or Choices
Since she was old enough, we’ve always let her make choices. It started as simple as choosing what clothes she would wear. I would pull out two appropriate shirts and she would choose. Now it’s gotten a little more complicated. She wants to do X, then it means that Y won’t happen later. It’s giving her a consequence for her choice and the ability to choose between the two. We do that as long as the choice is safe and age appropriate. There are plenty of times we tell her no and don’t give her a choice but usually explain our reasons for it.
It’s hard to figure out what punishments are appropriate for this late toddler/early preschool age. Most of the time, that punishment feels like a punishment for me as well. No Ipad for 3 days was torture, for both of us. Since I know her triggers so well and what her pain points are, I exploit them to some small degree. Gosh, that sounds horrible right? She now knows that certain things are privileges, Ipad and dance class for example, and those are earned. It’s working for us though and although she’s come close, she hasn’t lost her Ipad again at bedtime.
I had to learn that I didn’t always have to react with discipline. Sometimes making a silly face was enough to break the tension. When going upstairs for bed was a struggle, making the trip fun would do the trick, avoiding the meltdown. It could be as simple as carrying her upside-down or seeing who could go upstairs the silliest. I’ve often had to check in with myself and see if I was just reacting strictly because I was tired and wanted that hour I have to myself before I go to bed.
Boiling it Down
Here is what I comes down to: know your child and be willing to adapt your parenting to their personality. What works for one child will not always work for another. Then be consistent with it
I have zero judgement if you do time outs or spanking or are completely free range. What works for us, might not work for you and that is perfectly fine! We are all chugging along this parenting journey trying to do the very best we can for our kids.
Here are some of the things that I’ve read that have helped me form my own personal parenting style through the years.
Ahaparenting.com – tons of great articles on this site that address any sort of behavioral issue you might be having by age group.