“That’s it! You’re going to bed.” … creating rules or scarring your child?

too much of this and mommy's head threatens to explode

Davis is two. It is an age of aimless joy as you watch your toddler express themselves more fully, come up with elaborate make-believe games and periodically throw themselves at you with a profession of deep love. Davis’ favorite being the “I love you most” game where she says that phrase and I have to make an expression of open-mouthed surprise. When I fail to make said facial expression she orders me, “No, you do this,” and shows me the face until I do. Sometimes I make her do it a few times before I comply. It is simply too priceless a moment to not milk it whenever you can because in a minute it will be gone.

It is also the time of asserting ones independence. Toddler is now two years old. That’s the Big Number 2. No longer a “little tiny baby any mo-or-e” they want to do what they want to do and have their own way all the time. ALL THE TIME. Temper-tantrums begin with different bullying tactics in attempts to dominate you so you give what they want. I say different tactics because I am sure since each child is different they all innately have different styles of manipulation to try to get the elders in their life to follow their beck and call.

These temper tantrums, which sometimes can be cute, are almost inevitably going to make any parent’s head explode. There are only so many of these I can take in a day… some days in an hour. When Davis gets tired she doesn’t cry and whine. She becomes aggressive and more in the frame of mind of “It’s my way. ONLY.” No is her mantra and she will resort to violence if you let her. Yelling, threatening to hit, and the occasional slap are her ways of trying to get what she wants. The reality is if she doesn’t stop this behaviour now, life is going to be touch for her in social situations. Temper tantrums in the adult world rarely get you success.

Over the last week I’ve twice put Davis to bed for the night for bad behaviour. The one-minute-per-year-of-age time out theory no longer works for her unless it is a misdemeanor crime like not listening and needing a break so she can calm down. The first night of the bedtime punishment it was earlier than normal. In her room she played for 30 minutes before another 15 minute fight about putting on jammies for bed. I’m sorry but I wasn’t letting her win this fight (so already won the war of the tidy hour) and I wasn’t having her push me into yelling. Reading a trash novel in between visits to the room requesting we put on PJs was a perfect way to zone out until she was ready to listen. Last night, we were having an awesome time baking cookies and making Christmas tree decorations until the toddler terror came out.

Not wanting to clean up, darling Davis demanded I do what she wanted, pulled out the menacing monster face, hit me in the lap then made out like she was going to bite me. The whole thing took a couple of minutes but something inside of me stated, “I’m not putting up with this.” Then out of my mouth, “That’s it. You’re going to bed.”

It was five minutes before we were going to get ready for bed anyway. What she didn’t get was a bedtime story and some cuddle time. Crying lasted about 4 minutes. There was a couple of minutes of her trying to talk me into letting her watch a movie followed by the plea for me to come and lie down with her. Then she was asleep – it took a total of nine minutes. I know that for a fact because I timed it.

But I wonder, is this good for our kids? Is it indeed creating rules and showing them that actions create a consequence? Or could it be that we’re scaring our children into obedience… and can that be scarring?

Perhaps it’s because I have vivid memories of feeling like the worst person in the world for being sent to my room, going to sleep with a sense of isolation. Yes, I was a dramatic child. Did it happen very often? I highly doubt it. Was I scarred by it? I don’t know. Maybe in a way as I seem to have a ridiculous fear of having people angry with me. Even when it’s something that shouldn’t have an ill result at all, I’ll still find myself in a state of worry that my actions are going to be perceived wrong. However, it’s more likely that is a part of my psych and other experiences as I had wonderful parents and was never once abused or mistreated. Yelled at, yes, and spanked. But that was the 70’s and these things were acceptable.

In no way did Davis seem upset this morning, but both nights she was sent to bed she woke up in the middle of the night and came to sleep with me. Last night she said, “You are mad at me?” and I assured her I wasn’t. Covering her with kisses and hugs she told me about the bad dream she had. “The cars were breaking me,” she told me falling back to sleep. This makes me think that it does play on her subconscious so will it hurt her in the long run? It is going to effect her in some way and it’s so darn difficult to know in which way that will be.

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2 thoughts on ““That’s it! You’re going to bed.” … creating rules or scarring your child?

  1. This is a trying age for any parent to say the least! Unfortunately there is no perfect way of doing things, and all we can do it the best we can.

    When my Emma was younger (and still today) when I send her to her room for a time out, I tell her that she can come out when she is ready to say she is sorry. The first few times I did this, she would say “I’m ready Mommy” within seconds…I would tell her to come out and she’d say “I’m sorry”. I would ask her “Okay…what are you sorry for?” She would reply “I don’t know” 🙂 So back to her room she’d go. Eventually, she started looking at her behaviour and thinking about what she did wrong, why she was sent to her room, and when she came out – could tell me why she was sorry. Then we would discuss why what she did was wrong, and better ways to deal with the situation next time. The “events” she would feel sorry for later got fewer and farther in between. I’m not sure if this is the right way to deal with the issues of a toddler, but it worked for me.

    In my experience, as long as the punishment fit the crime and I was consistent they eventually accepted that unfavorable actions have consequences, and we all try to avoid letting it get that far.

    The jammie situation is one I know all too well. I started getting into the habit of giving them a choice. “Which jammies would you like to wear tonight?” It’s amazing, because they choose every time! They still felt like they had control over the situation, and I saved myself a major headache. The same method can be used for meal times, story books (to get them into bed), etc…

    I wouldn’t worry about scarring her too much, you’re doing a great job 🙂

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