Beginning to Discipline

And so it begins!  No longer is Bryce a sweet chubby little lump who lies on his back and bats benignly at objects.  He is On the Move and On a Mission to explore anything and everything!  We have done a pretty thorough job of babyproofing the house, so there isn’t anything that would cause him harm, or any irreplaceable valuables within reach.  However, there are definitely limits that need to be set for acceptable behavior!

I have the advantage (?) of having been hardened by 10 years of teaching elementary school, so I know all too well the children who were so cute that their parents didn’t deny them anything.  I will admit that it is definitely difficult to remain steadfast when you see this:

IMG_0632

However, I am determined that he will not be one of those kids that people think “He’s adorable, but he’s SUCH a brat!”

I started doing my homework while Bryce was still a baby.  I read and re-read The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp and Simplicity Parenting by Kim Payne, both AMAZING resources!  I browsed Pinterest for ideas.  I brainstormed some basic rules and behaviors that I wanted to reinforce, and I talked with DJ to make sure that he was on board (Memorize this response: ‘Ask Your Mother.”)  😉   I wanted to make sure I had a bag of tricks and a plan in place, so that when the time came I was ready to jump right in.  I am such a teacher it’s not even funny.

So far, things are going really well!  I wouldn’t say that the Terrible Twos are in full swing, so I’m not relaxing and patting myself on the back just yet, but I feel like we are laying a solid foundation for managing behavior in the future.

Here are some things that are working really well for me:

1. Baby Signing Time.  Number One recommendation for reducing fussiness!  Bryce is just beginning to verbalize things, but with his signing vocabulary he can tell me what he wants for snack, if he wants his blanket or pacifier, when he wants music on, when he wants to go outside, if he needs help, if he has a dirty diaper.  I feel like signing has made him a more sociable baby as well.  Other kids at the playground are very self-involved, but I think because Bryce is used to looking at people for communication cues, he walks around and tries to interact with everyone.  All I did was buy the Baby Signing Time DVDs and let him watch them.  I had to relax my “No Screen Time Before Two” standards, but it was totally worth it.

2.  Time Outs. This comes from my Happiest Toddler reading.  If Bryce is tantrumming or doing something he shouldn’t, he gets a slow count of 3, or a redirection, depending on the situation.  If he continues to fuss or misbehave, I take him up to his crib and leave him alone (with the light on and the door open) for 1-2 minutes.  This is AMAZINGLY effective.  Now, if he starts to throw a fit, 80% of the time if I count to three, he will calm himself down.  When we put up the Christmas tree, he started playing with the tree skirt and wearing it like a cape.  When he continued to mess with it even after I offered him another toy, I gave him a time out, and he hasn’t touched it since.  The Happiest Toddler book offers lots of other suggestions for managing behavior as he gets older, but right now, time-outs are working well.

3.  Setting a schedule up for success.  Simplicity Parenting talks about the concept of “pressure valves,” and how people need to balance periods of stress and activity with periods of rest and recharging.   I know I get cranky if I’m sleepy or hungry, or have been running myself ragged, so I try to make sure Bryce is in a state of homeostasis before I unleash him on the world!  I usually plan errands around Bryce’s sleep/meal schedule, either after breakfast, or after his nap and lunch.  I make a plan, I try not to take more than an hour and a half, and I always take a sippy cup and a finger-food snack just in case.  If we have a busy afternoon with a playdate, errands, or a class, we’ll keep the morning low key, or vice versa.  Simplicity Parenting offers other suggestions for reducing stress and overstimulation that can lead to tantrums and misbehavior.  I feel like many of the suggestions given in the book can help adults to reduce stress in their lives as well, whether or not they have kids!

Giving Bryce a way to communicate his needs, gently but firmly establishing my parental authority, and setting him up for good behavior by working with his schedule have really helped to keep him (and Mommy!) happy and balanced.  I hope that I can continue to build a strong relationship of respect and love on this basic foundation!

Advertisements

A Skype Date with Rachel!

What a great weekend! Lots of cooking, cleaning, chilling, and playing with Bryce, but the HIGHLIGHT was a Skype date with Rachel Coleman from Baby Signing Time.

Rachel sings "Baby Signing Time" to Bryce

We have used the Baby Signing Time DVD’s with Bryce since he was 3 months old, and he LOVES them. (Probably because they are the only TV we let him watch….) They have my full approval as a teacher, musician, and a mom. When I found out that Two Little Hands Productions was working on a new project, “Rachel and the Treeschoolers,” I knew that it was going to be amazing. I didn’t think twice about backing the project on Kickstarter, and when I saw that one of the backer rewards was a Skype with Rachel, I knew that was something I wanted to do!

Rachel is truly one of my personal heroes. She created Signing Time because her own daughter, Leah, was found to be deaf when she was a year old. I highly recommend reading Rachel’s story if you have the chance; she took a challenging and painful situation and turned it into an opportunity to help countless other people. Not only is she an example of faith, strength, and optimism, she writes and performs all the songs for the shows herself!

I set up an appointment, and we were waiting anxiously around the computer when she called us on Skype this afternoon. Bryce had actually been asking to watch Baby Signing Time, and he got this huge smile on his face when he saw her on the screen! He loved seeing his special TV friend, and it was so wonderful to talk to her and get to express my gratitude in person. I got more than a little teary thanking her for the ability to communicate with my son! Bryce can verbalize hi, uh oh, ball, and a few animal noises, but because of Rachel, he can sign almost 40 words. She was just as you would expect; animated, enthusiastic, kind, and friendly.

I thought I would be supersmart and run a screen capture so that we could record the call, but it didn’t record the audio. Whomp whomp. Oh well, it was a great experience for us, and helped to support the production of “Rachel and the Treeschoolers!” Here’s a preview from the first episode, I had no idea “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” could make you cry!