Monday, September 27

Kids behaving badly. My kid included.

Someone recently asked me if Conrad had entered the "terrible two's" early.

Yes. He has, if the "terrible two's" even exist. All kids are terrible every now and then i suppose. It's just that recently he's been A LOT more terrible and he's not quite two.... He throws temper tantrums when he doesn't get his way, or he acts mean for no reason at all just for the sake of being mean because for kids, it seems like we have to teach them to be good rather than teach them to be bad. They know how to be bad right out of the womb.

Just the other day, we were at the play ground and as Conrad and I were trying to go down the slide, a little boy shoves past us and in a really mean voice says, "Get out'a my way!" I turned around and said, "You don't talk to adults like that!" He ignored me instead of turning around and simply saying, "I'm sorry." (Kids exist who are well behaved and don't act like this. I have to believe they exist.) Right after our exchange of words, or my attempt to show my son that this behavior is not acceptable, I look at his parents who had nothing to say on the matter and folks, it got real weird after that.

In response to me saying to little Jimmy, "Be careful, don't push your friends." (DON'T SHOVE ADULTS WITH TODDLERS....) on the playground after he's shoved my kid down and thrown sand in his eyes, you could say something like, "Hey Jimmy, be nice. That wasn't cool. Go help him up!" Or if we're all hanging out at the water park and little Suzy steals a car from my sons hands, you could say, "Little sweet Suzy, that toys' not yours. Give it back to that really cute blond kid. Ask him if you can share that toy instead of taking it from him." But NO, you watch your kid steal toys and don't say anything, and I have to feel like a jerk when my kid is crying and It gets all awkward because you're standing there like a mute-statue not teaching your kid how to share. You could have retrieved that toy from her and kindly returning it back to my sad little boy. If you help me out with this little playground conflict and not just stand there, you won't have to glare at me when I walk up to your child and nicely ask for that toy back. 

BUT you can bet your biscuits that if my son steals toys, or pushes someone down, or shoves past someone, I'll be right there telling him that we don't treat others that way and give that toy back, and ask him if he'll forgive you for being mean. Chances are, I'll ask my son to give your kid a hug too.

But that's just me.

DISCLAIMER TO PARENTS ON THE PLAYGROUND: If my kid is being an asshole, feel free to point it out to him or myself (in a nice voice, we don't have to get crazy or anything....) and I will back you up if he is truly being an ass. Kids need to be taught how to be nice, I understand this, and so I give you permission to teach him how to be nice. We can all work together! It will be fun! IF YOUR KID is being an ass, and shoving fools left and right and not acting respectful to adults (sure, I look young, but I AM an adult. I can prove it.), please back me up if I point it out. We all want the same thing. We all want well behaved children. Lets help each other out!  If you tell my kid what's up, I won't be mad at all. I will certainly back you up. Because really, we're all aiming for the same thing: Kids who are nice to other kids and can function like responsible citizens of society...

A little glimpse of my sweet boy playing peek-a-boo
before the "before two, terrible two's" started:

My kid is a bad boy too. Just last week while I was dressing my terrible-baby-boy, he wouldn't let go of his drum stick to so I could put his arm through his shirt, so i pried it out of his little sweaty hand, and forced his arm through the shirt. All of a sudden, i get hit in the head with that same drum stick. Without me realizing, he busted out his ninja swiftness and used it as a weapon against his mother! The nerve! So I take his sweet, precious hand and give it a little swat (2nd time ever I've done this. I don't like doing this. It makes me feel guilty.) He froze, looked at me, started crying, got up and came to give me a hug. It was almost to say, "that hurt mom. I hurt you like that? That wasn't nice. I'm sorry." He realized that his actions were wrong and hurtful. I'm sure not every course of action will always be this smooth and easy with him realizing he was bad and giving me a hug but it was nice and made me feel like a good mom for not just ignoring his bad behavior, but teaching him that it was wrong.

Even if disciplining our kids makes us feel bad, or mean, or uncomfortable, It has to be done. Sure, I've let it slip a few times when he's doing something he's not supposed to do because I'm exhausted and don't feel like telling him NO yet again, for the hundredth time, in the same hour. It's so tough. That's why us Mom's have to encourage one another in this parenting thing and support each other so that we can be strong and not let our crazy kids take over and destroy the world! 

I've talked to quite a few moms lately about how they discipline. I've asked plain ol' strangers on the playground, friends, mom's who have been mom's much longer than I. It's such a grey subject. I'm not talking just TO SPANK OR NOT TO SPANK. Because I believe it goes much deep than that. I want to know how do I discipline my son as God would have me do so. I'll have more on this topic shortly.

Please feel free to chime in with advice on discipline,
the terrible two's and any other little pearls of wisdom you have to impart.


  1. Kudos to you for yelling at kids on the playground! My mom has already warned me not to yell at other people's kids, for fear of offended, but I don't think I'll be able to help it... especially because I'm a teacher. I'll whip my teacher voice out so fast, they won't know what hit 'em! But I think every parent should be able to correct a child on the playground, just like you did.

  2. Conflict is so hard. No one seems to know how to approach it. I'm still learning how to lovingly get my point across when I've been offended.
    I agree with you though. It's almost like you could say, "what gives you the right to tell another mom's kid what to do!" but really, I would stick up for their kid if Conrad was being mean. I wouldn't let it slide if I saw him being mean to someone else.

    If that parent had something to say, I would have simply said to them "You should have been the one to tell him not to shove and to apologize, not me." (and then we would have run like the wind because they were way bigger than us!)

  3. Oh Chelsea, that is always so hard. I never quite know what to do, especially if a friend's kid is acting up and the mom didn't notice. And sometimes I don't notice when my kid is being a punk... and I usually don't mind if they reprimand my kid, as long as they are being gentle and doing it out of love, rather than using a sharp, annoyed tone of voice.

    My favorite practical book on discipline is Ginger Plowman's "Don't make me count to Three". It teaches the parent how to reach the heart of your child. Behavior is just an indicator of what is going on in their hearts. She teaches how to probe the heart and get the child to see for himself that his heart is sinful. For example, as we speak:

    Finn just said "Calvin hit me with a tennis ball 3 times". Instead of me saying, "Calvin, that was really mean. You should not hit Finn!"...I would instead ask Calvin, '" Was that right or wrong to hit Finn with the tennis ball?"

    Calvin said "It was wrong...but Finn tackled me". And I asked Calvin "Is it good or bad to repay evil with evil?" ....Calvin says "bad". And we talk about how in the Bible it says to repay evil with good...And then I asked Calvin what he should have done; Calvin: "I should have told mommy that Finn tackled me"; Me: "and so now what do we say to Finn?"

    Calvin: "Sorry I hit you with the tennis ball" and gives a hug....and then we role played what Calvin SHOULD have done. It's important to practice how to do the right thing, because it's hard and they forget!

    and then Finn got a line of questioning on whether it was good or bad to tackle Calvin.

    I realize that Conrad is too young for all that and so you would definitely have to water it usually works well once they are talking more--Ollie and Twain are not quite there yet, but it's never too soon to think about these things!

    Sorry I wrote a book. I sincerely wish the best for you as you figure this out!

  4. first of all, i got wyatt that same pajamas! i've been on a halloween pajama kick. gymboree has some super cute ones right now for 10 bucks each...

    anyway, i've started teaching wyatt the word no. he has no clue what i'm saying i think, but i just don't want to waste precious teaching time. actually, i take that back, i think he's figuring it out. he cries when i say it now.

    oh, and i'm related to someone who doesn't believe in teaching their kids to share. there's a whole theory of thought on it too. the theory is that if you force children to share they won't understand truly why they're being forced to do it. if they keep snatching toys up from other kids then the other kids won't want to play with them anymore, and thus they'll start to share so they can be liked. i don't agree with this at all because i don't feel that we should leave social etiquette to be "figured out". i think it should be taught. stupid hippies.

  5. Good for you! I'm all for telling a kid to check himself. If the parents aren't going to PARENT than don't be offended if the rest of society ends up doing it for you. Nothing infuriates me more in the parenting world than when a kid is being an a**hole to other kids on the playground/store/school whatever and their parents do nothing about it.

    So hell yeah for sticking up for Conrad!

  6. I think I'm just so used to hanging out with Sofia and her toddler. I'm used to another mom telling Conrad NO, if he's being bad, or to share with Avery etc. I do agree with you though on having a loving tone that isn't an "annoyed" tone. I was trying so hard not to sound annoyed.

    Thanks for the advice guys. I will for sure look into that book.

  7. I started doing the time out thing with Will at this age. I totally got all my rules from Supernanny! I warn him that what he is doing is not nice and he needs to stop or he will have a time out (then I redirect him because lets face it, they don't have the self control to stop much at this age). Then if he does it again I put in him time out, don't look at him or speak to him for 2 minutes (I hold him there in necessary...he stays by himself now). Then when it's over I give him a big hug and tell him I love him and ask him to say sorry. It is working pretty well.

    A friend of mine gave me an idea that I want to start...she has a time out blanket. It's a small blanket that she keeps in the diaper bag all the time. He knows that if he is in time out he has to stay on the blanket, so then she can give him a time out anywhere (the store, park, friends house etc) and he knows he isn't going to get away with stuff just because they are not at home.

    I reserve spanking for MAJOR things that are dangerous. Like running into the street, grabbing a knife, playing around in the car. Then it is a quick swat to shock them into attention (because it's dangerous there is no time to sweetly give a warning ;). I think they need to know it's not okay to do those things, but need the extra shock to realize how much danger they were in.

    Wow, I wrote a book too! This has been a major thing for me lately. I have been trying to remember the 2 year old discipline thing while figuring out how to lovingly deal with a tween with ADD. HEAVEN HELP ME!

    As far as dealing with other kids whose parents are not paying attention. I have no problem with them calling out my kids as long as they are calm and respectful about it. I do it to other kids all the time!

  8. It happens to all kids. My Levi can be an angel, so sweet and want to "help mama" and then in the next second he can try to hit me because I won't give him something dangerous to run through the house with like scissors. He must be very advanced because he's not even two yet, but he's got a terrible case of the "terrible twos." I really try hard to not get too mad at him but talk to him in a stern voice and then explain why his behavior is wrong. And he gets time outs, swats, and a good talking to. He's not even around kids that often and he still has bad behaviors. It's just innate...besides, the smiles and kisses and hugs make up for it all, right? Right!
    And I am so glad you mention other parents ignoring their kids bad behavior. That's why their kid will be in jail and mine won't. ;)

  9. The worst is when I'm at work and women are letting their kids act crazy. I'm never sure if it's okay to reprimand them since "the customer is always right." However, when their child is taking piles of clothing and throwing them on the floor it gets to be a bit much.

  10. oh the playground, such fun and complicated and political all at once.

    Lily is only 10 months old but she is already SO feisty!
    We have swatted her hand 2-3 times only to be swatted back by a 10 month old!
    Obviously not the right way to go in my heart.
    She did however get her first time out this morning. It truly upset and angered her. Tears, screams. But it worked. When she was done having her moment, she came over to me and gave me a kiss.
    As an apology! :)

    I agree with you as far as what goes on in the playground and that some parents need to discipline their kids better and back up other parents.

  11. You are so cute Chels! I so so love your take on motherhood. It's so real life. I know I won't have any clue on what it's like until I have one and go through the process but I feel like I can make "notes" now and get insider tips from you. You're such a great little mommy! Conrads so lucky :)