Monday, December 12, 2011

Held Accountable

I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest problems I have as a parent and with Z are problems with me. When I find myself making excuses to myself I know something is wrong. I’ve got to pay attention to what is being required of me as a parent, especially when it comes to setting boundaries and sticking to it.  

It’s hard to admit when I think I’ve done something wrong as a parent.

To me it’s about teaching him respect and kindness, direction, re-direction and discipline, not about control.  Discipline doesn't have to be a dirty word; it is a good thing.

He depends on me to show him what is and isn’t acceptable.  He depends on me for right and wrong. He depends on me to show him how to respect others so they will also respect him.  He depends on me for consistency and discipline.  He trusts me to guide him.  It’s a big job but I’ve got to step up to the plate and be consistent or it’s him that’ll suffer in the end.

I believe that every moment is a chance to start over and there’s no time like the present to do so. 

I can’t expect Z to just learn self control through my “monkey see, monkey do” method.  I have to be better at enforcing boundaries.  

In the last few days since I posted about the photo shoot (one of the worst moments I've ever experienced), I’ve been really aware about how I respond to his behavior and I’ve surprised myself.  When I stick to my guns and I’m firm, it works.  He does respond well.  I’m worst about it when there’s a lot going on, but that’s when he needs me the most.

He is very strong willed and active so I have to get down to his level.  I've noticed his behavior changing in the last few months especially.  I obviously can’t just say something and expect him to follow it without holding him to it.  For example, “Z, please stop throwing that.”  And two throws later say it again.  I need to stop him and stick with time-out on the second throw or remove him from the situation, instead of say it again.  When I get down to his level and stop he responds. 

He’s not a bad kid, he just needs to be held accountable and re-directed more often. 

Sometimes, I need to be held accountable for not paying attention to the situation.  I can’t set him up for failure either.  

Also, he is now getting old enough to understand when he is doing something that’s not cool.  He is also getting good at telling me, “Mama, I have a feeling!”  Then we can talk about it.  It melts my heart every time.  Sometimes I need to just stop what I am doing.  Sometimes I need to ask him what’s up or what I can do, maybe just a hug or acknowledgment, instead of rely on him to come to me or figure it out.  He is three.

I’ll admit –I’ve never read a book about toddler discipline or behavior.  I rather shy away from parenting method books, but I actually would like to know if anyone recommends a child development book for parents (one that helps me to understand his little brain).  Or any book that you've read and why you recommend it.

I am grateful for my friends I’ve talked to, the ones that made a comment and the ones that messaged me.  Thank you.

(Deep sigh)  Wish me good luck and strength!


  1. Honestly, I've never read a parenting book that I felt was really helpful. That's after working at HPB for 7+ years. I'm glad you are feeling better! One thing I try to do is tell myself,"This is just one moment in time. This, too, shall pass." And then take deep breaths or turn away from the offending child for a minute to gather myself.
    But then again, I totally just snapped at my kids when we went to the craft store. I just couldn't take the bickering. This too shall pass...

  2. Look on Amazon for the book, Redirecting Children's Behavior by Kathryn J. Kvols. It's the book the parenting course we teach is based on, but even without the classes you can pick up some good ideas from reading the book and putting it into practice. Even if you only learn one thing, it's well worth it. It will likely reinforce some of the things you are already doing, from what I've read in your blog and your FB posts. You seem like a great mom to me! Blessings, Lori

  3. Thanks, C & Lori. I appreciate your words. Your class seems interesting Lori, thanks for sharing what you base it on.

    There are only two "parenting" books that I've read. They both mean a lot to me. One is Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller and the other is Everyday Blessings, The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by John & Myla Kabat-Zinn.

    I often think that like Suzuki Roshi said, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's there are few." I like to keep my mind open and not constrict it but I am always curious what others read and why. Thanks again.

  4. Don't be so hard on yourself and your parenting style! The age he's at can be VERY TOUGH. I hit a really rough patch with Zoe just about the same age as you have with Z. It sounds like our parenting styles may be somewhat similar--I've always sought not to "control" as well, or atleast as little as possible. And then 3 years old hit, and I was really thrown for a loop! But for the most part I didn't compromise my earlier attitudes, and months later (she's now 3 yrs 5 mos), things are getting easier again, an AMAZINGLY huge relief. And I can honestly say I'm very glad I stuck to my guns. I've never used punishment with Zoe, and I feel I've had great success in going that route. This doesn't mean there aren't consequences for "bad" behavior, which may often act as its own punishment, like leaving the store because she's throwing a fit (and I can't deal with shopping under those circumstances). If she's persisting with some kind of unnacceptable behavior I will often remove her from the environment (at home this usually means taking her to her room), but this is never done in the spirit of punishment, but rather removing the offender from the offendee(s), and only if she won't stop whatever it is she's doing. I also do my best to really praise and acknowledge the good and be careful to avoid giving the bad too much attention (I don't ignore it, but try to keep my reprimands simple and to-the-point, and then move right on), and I feel like this has helped with keeping bad behavior to a minimum. Anyway, I just wanted to give another perspective and lend my support. Here's a quote I came across recently that resonated with me (it's from John Holt's book "Instead of Education"): "In 'The Lives of Children,' Dennison made the important distinction between natural authority, which rests on experience, competence, wisdom, and commitment, on the respect, trust, and love of one person for another, and official or coercive authority, which rests only on the power to bribe, to threaten, and to punish. Many people find it hard to understand this difference, or to see that coercive authority does not complement and support natural authority, but undermines and destroys it." I often find myself doing things differently than other parents, even close friends, but everyone parents differently and we all have to find what works best for us and our families. Remember to listen to and trust yourself, and your kids!

  5. Alex, Thanks!

    Those are some good thoughts and they usually work for me. I try go to based off of instinct since I don't read about all this. I think the more I read the less I'll really understand. That's why I like sharing experiences and reading about what other Mamas think and do.

    The photo-shoot day was a horrendous day and I think there was a lot going on with both of us. I just hate feeling like I've failed him. I don't usually get so hard on myself but I feel responsible.

    I completely agree with removing the offender, even if it's us being in a store. I've done that before. Or removing what I don't want messed with.

    I do think it's important to praise the good and try my best not to give credibility to the bad. Like when he'll cuss (the "bad" ones), I'll look at him like "uh uh!" or say, "do not say xx, I am also trying not to say that". I can't always blame him for repeating something he's heard us say.

    However, I use time outs because they calm him down. I also have been sitting with him through a lot of them and saying "Let's breathe." He'll breathe in and out and count with me and then he's usually calmer and we get up. Sometimes I set a timer for two minutes and say, "You sit for two minutes OR get up when you're ready not to hit/break/kick.."

    One distinction in discipline/punishment is that he is never ever punished for his feelings but there are a few things I don't think are acceptable -like hitting, biting, kicking, cussing and being rude -over and over after being asked not to.

    We sound a lot alike in how we deal with it.
    OH, three, it can be a challenge!

  6. I hear ya! Every family is unique, and it sounds like you're finding great ways to deal. Enrique (Papa) is the same way about reading stuff. I hope I didn't come across too preachy before. I just wanted to share a little of what works for us :)

  7. I love reading other's experiences and thoughts. I appreciate it very much. :) See you sooner than later :)