The D word: Discipline
So my sister-in-law sent me a link to this cool blog called Black Moms Blog. It's got all kinds of articles about parenting, culture, and lifestyle. One article that caught my eye was Disciplining with Compassion in the Black Community. The article was so nicely written and very thoughtful. And it totally spoke to me as a black mom and the mom of a toddler. And this has been the topic of conversation between my husband and I since we've entered the terrific 2's with our darling daughter.
Let me start by saying this, being a toddler is hard. The world around you is changing every day, and honestly, you're just trying to understand it and have a say. And I don't want to crush spirits just protect in love. It's a delicate balance and I'm still learning. And my discipline techniques are ever-evolving. We are all shaped by our past, and we can't help but mimic what we learn sometimes. Knowing this keeps me on my toes when it comes to discipline. I have to understand that my firmness helps create that balance for her, and she has to learn discipline is necessary in all things. So I've realized a few things that have help me in toddler discipline.
First, I try my best to not discipline in anger. I try to understand if what she is doing has an underlining issue or if it's even a thing. By the end of the day like most people I'm spent. I've been saying, "no," "stop," "don't" all day, and frankly, I'm on a short fuse. So I try to be extra patient. I give myself timeouts. I remove myself from the situation and deal with it later. Most things can be dealt with later. Also I try to be mindful of her emotional state. Is she sleepy? Tired? Hungry? Sick? These effect us all in a BIG way, just as they do with toddlers.
Next, I believe in timeouts more than "love taps", but I DO believe in "love taps". At times we could all benefit from a timeout. Just a moment to calm down and reflect. And we discuss why we need to calm down. Discipline needs to be explained to help in behavior adjustment. The why is important. But sometimes "because I said so" will have to do. I like "love taps" to be a last resort option. The first time I had to really discipline my daughter my heart ached. She was defiantly pushing her boundaries. It was so much harder than I thought it would be. She cried, I wanted to cry. It's hard to see your child sad or angry and know that you caused it intentionally. But I'd rather deal with the emotion of broken-hearted toddler now then see and deal with the result of not dealing with it later. I want to set her up for success in whatever she does, and that means teaching her discipline.
Finally, I don't mind (mostly) her showing emotions. This is a big one. We, as a black community sometimes, disregard children's emotion. They need to be able to show their discontent. Sometimes when she has to cool down in the corner or take a break. She stomps her foot or lets out a yelp. She is venting her frustration, the best way she knows how. I would get mad until my husband made me realize she was just expressing herself. Her discontentment shouldn't effect her punishment. She's upset. I know that, I would be too. She can't express that to me yet, and so I have to be mindful of that.
I don't have anything all figured it, not even a little bit. Most days I'm just making it by a wing and a prayer. Just one parent sharing what I learned on this journey. And so the journey continues.