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Rules, boundaries, and discipline?


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  #1  
May 17th, 2013, 09:18 AM
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I want my girls to be well disciplined and know boundaries and respect rules, etc., but my two year old is struggling with this. I've let her be a free spirited flower child for as long as she's been out of my womb.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if I've just been to lax. Like for example, the word "no." Example, she does something that annoys her aunt and then continues to do it even though she was told "no, I don't want to. I don't like it. Stop." You get the idea.....This normally results in me telling her she can't do that, you're making her (sad, angry, upset) and taking her away and putting her in another spot so she can play with other toys or read or do something with her time, and at most she'll sit on the couch say if she hits someone then she definitely has to sit on the couch. That's the extent of her being disciplined for her actions.
So then my sister, a different aunt, that works with children tells me that it's because I've not taught her boundaries/rules/discipline. And though it sounds like just plain criticism she actually likes that I attachment parent and she helps me with it since we live in the same house and she's very good with my dds. But I've also noticed that DD is a lot more disciplined with her. I also want DD to be able to relate to other children her age, especially later on. A lot of kids learn acceptable social behavior through school but she'll be homeschooled so I need to teach her those social rules, boundaries, and discipline. I want to put her in a dance class but don't want her to struggle socially---like being singled out because she doesn't listen to instructions, or doesn't know how to sit and listen very well, etc. And I know she's only two but I don't want her to keep having these same issues as she grows older.
So my question is: Is it really because I've let her do whatever she wants when she wants (within reason)? And how do I teach her these rules and boundaries? And I want her to be well disciplined, but does this means I need to start making her a schedule of sorts? She has her own schedule and I enjoy her being my little free spirited flower child that does what she wants but I also want her to thrive. I feel so lost today. What do I do? Better yet, what do you do?
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  #2  
May 17th, 2013, 11:41 AM
IronMamma's Avatar -Child Advocate
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I am not quite to this point yet since Drake is only 17 months old but I can offer some input. First of all, in my opinion, kids always act different when they are around other people. Not just anyone, a close family friend, etc. I have noticed that kids will behave better for other adults as well, not all but some. I think it's because it's not the same person they see all the time.

Drake will also be Home Schooled, and I have thought about ways that I can discipline him and socialize him too. We take him to the park a lot which in turn teaches him how to interact with strangers, and he is quite friendly and outgoing but very polite. We also take him to the library, and there is a kids section and there are always kids running around. Do you have something like that around you?

I also think that since she is only two, she is still very young and her behavior seems very normal to me. She is not going to listen, whether at all or not that often. Drake knows that "no" means but he will still do stuff at times. There brain is constantly on high speed and the world is soooooo new to them. It's overwhelming so sometimes I am sure she forgets how to be "nice" and listen. Like for example, Drake is more calm at home, then when we are out he is a monster! He is not bad, he is just full of energy and running around, touching everything, etc.

I do not think you need a strict schedule. I do not have one and that has worked for me, but what works for some does not work for others. That is going to depend on what your day is like.

What would I do? I would not worry about it honestly. She has so much time to thrive and learn discipline. Keep telling her "no" when appropriate and tell her why even though she has no clue what you are talking about. It will take a lot of you repeating yourself, hang in there.
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  #3  
May 17th, 2013, 11:57 AM
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Obviously, this is something you'll have to figure out for yourself for the most part, but hopefully a few of us will be able to give you some ideas.

I really really struggled with setting boundaries for Eliana, she's on the autism spectrum, and still non-verbal, though she was much worse before we started with early intervention. I will say that setting boundaries for her seemed to be a relief. She knows where (most) lines are, and she likes to keep things peaceful and non-confrontational.
One thing that helped me was saying "no, don't do x" the first time (I tried to phase out of saying no, but it comes anyways, so I use it this way) if she doesn't listen I'll ask her to do something specific it could be "instead of that let's do this" or "hold my hand so you can stay safe" or "keep your feet on the floor" simple requests that stop the behaviour. If that doesn't work I say "mommy will help you" and I physically bring her from one place to the next.
It seems complicated, but it's pretty easy, and it's simple enough to be understood. And it's worked for me so far. When they're older I plan to talk to them more about the results of their actions, like how it makes someone feel, and asking them if they know of a way to sooth any hurts caused.
But I think this is good for a toddler level.

She gets so overwhelmed in public places so I can't help you much there. It might be a good idea to keep snacks and a bottle of water in your purse if you think it might happen. If I'm by myself and out I'll pack some treats and give her little bits at a time until we're back somewhere safe.

I think that there's no way to get a perfectly behaved child, but if you show them the boundaries and teach them about them, it might help immensely. And it might have nothing to do with you! But it can't hurt to teach.
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  #4  
May 17th, 2013, 12:01 PM
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I agree with Destiny. All you can really do is try your best and give her the tools she needs. And see how she is, and work with that.
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  #5  
May 17th, 2013, 03:23 PM
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It's really normal at 2, no matter what you do, and kids are always better behaved for other people than their parents.

Putting her in a class could help her learn those social boundaries and rules, so I wouldn't keep her out until she learns the rules but rather put her in to help her learn the rules.

As for teaching her the rules, it's simple. She is free to do as she wishes so long as it doesn't hurt herself or someone else or upset someone else. With that as a guideline, you can help her learn when and where and with who she can do certain things. The rest of the time, you just let her know what she can't do, why she can't do it, and what she can do instead (redirect her).

Then, give it time. A lot of time. Because every 2 year old is a LONG ways away from learning these things.
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  #6  
May 17th, 2013, 04:03 PM
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I guess this is one area where I am not so AP. If my son is told no and continues to do the behavior there will be a consequence. And yes, this did begin at 2. Children need to learn that there are rules and consequences to breaking those rules. Whether or not it harms the child or others is irrelevant.
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  #7  
May 17th, 2013, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Jennifer* View Post
I guess this is one area where I am not so AP. If my son is told no and continues to do the behavior there will be a consequence. And yes, this did begin at 2. Children need to learn that there are rules and consequences to breaking those rules. Whether or not it harms the child or others is irrelevant.

I'd love to hear an example where whether or not it harms the child or someone else or themselves in some way is irrelevant. For example, brushing your teeth after a meal is a rule, because not doing so would be harmful to themselves. Waiting in line is a rule, because cutting in from of someone else would be hurtful to them. I just can't think of a rule we don't have (that anyone else thinks we need) that doesn't come down to being respectful of themselves, others, and their environment (ie, not doing anything that is harmful to themselves, others, or their environment) so I'd love to hear some examples Not to mention, I personally think anything harmful is ALWAYS relevant, but to each their own Still, to me, that is the whole point of having boundaries! If I had boundaries just for the heck of it (ie--you aren't allowed to eat purple food because I said so) then I would just be teaching my children that boundaries are there because other people said so, and so they must listen (no matter what--which is dangerous thinking, IMO), instead of teaching them that boundaries are there for a reason, to keep everyone healthy and safe and feeling respected. I also find it helps my children trust me. They know that if I make a rule, there will be a reason for that rule. I'm not making rules just to exert power. I am trying to envision a situation where that would be healthy.
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Last edited by alittlelost; May 17th, 2013 at 05:42 PM.
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  #8  
May 17th, 2013, 05:39 PM
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2 years old are difficult. Period. Doesn't matter what you have done or haven't done, they're going to frustrate you and not listen. I have found myself the past 6 months really evaluating every month if there are changes we need to make in how we approach his behavior. What works for one child won't necessarily work for the next either. I have no magic solution. Wish I did!
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  #9  
May 18th, 2013, 12:04 PM
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I don't think you are doing anything wrong. It sounds like normal 2 year old behavior to me! And sorry to tell you this but in my experience 3 is much worse of an age. My son is 3 and he is tough. Because he understands more now and tries to reason with me. lol. They are becoming more independent and trying to figure out the world around them and thats ok! That is what they are supposed to do! I am probably not the best person to answer your question because we don't really have rules. (besides no hurting anybody) But other than that I let my kids explore and learn. They don't have boundaries or rooms that they can't go in or anything. They are pretty free to do whatever they want as long as they aren't hurting themselves or each other. Do they do things that annoy me? of course but do I tell them to stop? No because they are exploring and learning. And honestly it works out pretty well.

Don't be afraid to enroll her in some classes if you want. It will probably help her. She will see what the other kids are doing and want to do what they are doing. It will be good for her!

My kids are always way better behaved for other people than me. Bedtime is an hour long fight here most nights. We went out to dinner for our anniversary the other night and hired a babysitter. This was the 3rd time they had met her and she said they went to sleep without a word for her! I couldn't believe it. So don't worry about that it is a normal kids behavior.
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  #10  
May 20th, 2013, 09:03 AM
*Jennifer*'s Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alittlelost View Post
I'd love to hear an example where whether or not it harms the child or someone else or themselves in some way is irrelevant. For example, brushing your teeth after a meal is a rule, because not doing so would be harmful to themselves. Waiting in line is a rule, because cutting in from of someone else would be hurtful to them. I just can't think of a rule we don't have (that anyone else thinks we need) that doesn't come down to being respectful of themselves, others, and their environment (ie, not doing anything that is harmful to themselves, others, or their environment) so I'd love to hear some examples Not to mention, I personally think anything harmful is ALWAYS relevant, but to each their own Still, to me, that is the whole point of having boundaries! If I had boundaries just for the heck of it (ie--you aren't allowed to eat purple food because I said so) then I would just be teaching my children that boundaries are there because other people said so, and so they must listen (no matter what--which is dangerous thinking, IMO), instead of teaching them that boundaries are there for a reason, to keep everyone healthy and safe and feeling respected. I also find it helps my children trust me. They know that if I make a rule, there will be a reason for that rule. I'm not making rules just to exert power. I am trying to envision a situation where that would be healthy.
Sorry if my post sounded snarky. I do apologize. A rule would be something like coloring on the floor. While it is not harming others or himself and it is easy as pie to clean, it is not acceptable. Of course I try redirection first and if he continues to color on the floor he gets a times out. I will say though that it did backfire on me once when he colored on the floor and walked himself to timeout. I could just see what was going on in his head..."Yeah Mom, I know...time out, but this is sooo worth it."

Also, wanted to add in that my Mom and MIL take care of Billy while I work, so I have to enforce rules I know they would have at their house too. I know coloring on the floors would be unacceptable there and it would be confusing to him if he could do it at home, but not at those places.
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  #11  
May 20th, 2013, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Jennifer* View Post
Sorry if my post sounded snarky. I do apologize. A rule would be something like coloring on the floor. While it is not harming others or himself and it is easy as pie to clean, it is not acceptable. Of course I try redirection first and if he continues to color on the floor he gets a times out. I will say though that it did backfire on me once when he colored on the floor and walked himself to timeout. I could just see what was going on in his head..."Yeah Mom, I know...time out, but this is sooo worth it."

Also, wanted to add in that my Mom and MIL take care of Billy while I work, so I have to enforce rules I know they would have at their house too. I know coloring on the floors would be unacceptable there and it would be confusing to him if he could do it at home, but not at those places.
See, to me, coloring on the floor is harmful of property. We wouldn't allow it either, especially because they can just color on paper. We did, however, paint their walls with chalkboard paint so they could use chalk on the walls in their room. They were interested for a week and then lost interest, not only in drawing in those walls but on drawing on things they shouldn't in general lol

As I see it, all rules stem from respect of self, respect of others, and respect of property. So, coloring on the floor is hurtful towards property and toward others (because even if it's easy to clean, it is upsetting to me to see it). I see it the same as teasing someone. Words don't physically hurt anyone, but if it's bothering the other person, it's still hurting them, so we wouldn't allow that.

That said, there are some things my kids are allowed to do at home that I wouldn't want them to do outside of home, but I think part of growing up is learning "time and place". Yes, it's a hard concept for a child to learn, but eventually they do learn that different places have different rules, and part of being a well-behaved/respectful person is learning to follow rules somewhere even if those rules differ from the rules at home.
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  #12  
May 20th, 2013, 01:08 PM
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I never even thought of something being hurtful to property. I do get what you mean about things being acceptable at home that aren't acceptable elsewhere. For example, Billy is not required to sit at the table for dinner when at home. However, that is not acceptable at a restaurant.
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  #13  
May 20th, 2013, 01:51 PM
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I agree with Jennifer. Drake does not sit at the table for every meal. Sometimes we all lounge in the living room, he will sit in high chair while we sit on the couch. Sometimes if he is just not eating at all I will put his grilled cheese (something non messy) on his play area and he will eat as he wants. But if we were out he would sit at the table. I think there are things you can do at home, but not outside the home.
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  #14  
May 20th, 2013, 02:35 PM
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^^ I agree. There are lots of things that my kids do at home that they can't do at home. Although even at restaurants they don't like to sit still and it doesn't really bother me. Kellsey rarely sits in a high chair anymore.
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  #15  
May 20th, 2013, 02:36 PM
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We do not go out to eat that much because Drake just does NOT want to sit. Maybe in like 6 months or so he will? I don't know.
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  #16  
May 20th, 2013, 03:48 PM
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Hubby and I usually go to restaurants in 2 cars. Actually he goes first and orders the food and Billy and I go after. If Billy is acting up, he and I leave. I have hubby stay and enjoy his meal. Some people think it is a bit weird we do this, but it works for us.
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  #17  
May 20th, 2013, 04:53 PM
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That's a good idea. I just can't expect my 21 month old and 3 year old to sit still in a noisy environment with so much going on.

Jess Drake might get better soon. Callen isn't too bad as long as he has food or a drink. But Kellsey doesn't sit still at all.
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  #18  
May 20th, 2013, 05:37 PM
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It also does not help that Drake is not an eater so when we go he just sits there and is sooo bored and wants to run around.
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  #19  
May 20th, 2013, 07:12 PM
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Yeah that probably doesn't help at all. My kids LOVE food. Lol. Does he color?
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  #20  
May 20th, 2013, 08:06 PM
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My kids are always on their best behavior in restaurants. I don't know why that is. I think we got lucky with that one.

Oh, and the reason we consider destruction of property as hurtful is 1) because we want our kids to have the overall message that their living space is kind of like a person, too. That might sound weird to some people...but I just want them to respect the planet because it needs to be here for them and their kids in the long run . . . so part of teaching that message begins at home and 2) some people really care about their property and so it hurts PEOPLE when their property is ruined, and anything that hurts others is something we try to avoid.
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