Toddler discipline

This is the new artwork on my dining room wall.

At one point with the oldest girl there was green crayon scribbled on a living room wall but it was faint, easily removable. We told her not to do it again and she didn’t. I think we may have giggled at its cuteness. New parents, you know, certain the cuteness would remain. Aw, look, she wrote I hate you in red lipstick on the mirror. How precious. Or, my goodness, is that black spray paint on the new red sofa? She’s so artistic!

This boy, however, is a boy of a different color. The buckets of pens, pencils, crayons, and markers fascinate him. He makes a dot with an orange marker on a single sheet of paper and points to it. “Look,” he says. “I see. Very good,” we say. He makes a few lines. “Look,” he says. “Uh huh,” we say. Clearly, we were not exuberant enough at his apparently overdeveloped skills because he chooses to make more of a statement, using a bigger canvas. Can you see the different colors in this picture? This means he either had one or more in each hand or was industrious enough to take the whole bucket to the wall with him (or, more likely, he simply did one at a time, walking back and forth, wall to bucket because he was left unsupervised that long. Note to mommy when trying to get dinner done and being grateful that the boy isn’t clinging to your leg: the boy is likely not being such a sweet little huggable angel during the 20 minutes you haven’t heard a peep from him. Check the wall (and his mouth) for crayons).

This makes me think about disciplining a toddler. Toddlers need structure and they need to know what is and is not acceptable (so that there is no need to steal tips from Supernanny, then feign ignorance when someone asks if you watch Supernanny). At the same time, what toddler actually listens? Sure, continuity from adults is key and in time a toddler will “get it” but what happens when they don’t – i.e., refuse to comply? Does that happen when parents are consistent? I often wonder this when I see tantrum throwing, hair pulling, kicking, screaming children holding tight to some toy a parent has said no to. The potential for the boy to be one of these children confuses me. The girls were laid back, docile even. They pouted for mere minutes, but that was the extent of their emotional distress.

Methinks this tiny male human has vastly different plans for his aging mama (I would say aging daddy too, but I don’t think it applies as he still looks not a day over 32. My arms are folded so very tightly at this obvious injustice). This also lends more credibility to the fact that boys and girls can be (this will be shocking to you, I’m sure) wholly different.

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