Monday, January 17, 2011

What is discipline?

Now that my darling little girl has reached preschool age, her personality is developing at a furious rate along with behavior habits.  About a year ago it occurred to me that we needed to begin some form of behavior guidance and character education with Zoe.  I want her to be well mannered and, above all, to reject brat-dom.  Despite being a professional educator, I was really at a loss as to how to do it.  Honestly, I still feel very inept.

As a practitioner of responsive/intuitive parenting, the "gentle discipline" aspect is the piece I just don't have a handle on at all.  I know very little about what it means ideologically and even less about how to put it into practice.  We are solidly an anti-spanking family, but we do sometimes yell and the terms "being good" and "being bad" are used regularly.  We use threats of time out,. loss of privileges (TV, playdates, etc), and going to bed early without a story.  These threats usually garner compliance, but they cause a huge tantrum and a lot of tears and shame on the part of our little girl.  I began to wonder if the word "discipline" was automatically connected to guilt, shame, and power struggles or if inside the concept there lies the secret of a confident and respectful child.

According to, there are three definitions for "discipline" as a verb:
to train by instruction and exercise; drill.

to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.

to punish or penalize in order to train and control; correct;chastise

I suppose the "gentler" definition is the first one.  To train by instruction and exercise.  In terms of developing socially appropriate manners, exercise and drill would be effective and gentle.  Of course instruction should come first (explain to the child why we say "thank you" when someone does something nice for us).  The exercise would eventually become a habit--instruction internalized.  

The challenge comes in imparting our values to our children without indoctrination.  In allowing the tantrums and tears over bedtime because it is developmentally appropriate for a 3 year old to melt down.  In teaching when and why to apologize rather than demanding a begrudging "sorry."

Expect to read more on this subject as I seek out resources to better parent my own children and navigate the dicey world of character education.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Adventures in Baby-led Solids

My three-year-old daughter has issues with food and eating in general.  We think it is related to power and control.  Assuming that we were the cause of her issues, I sought out a different way to approach eating with our son.  As I browsed around Eco Baby Gear a few months ago, I saw a book titled Baby-led Weaning.  I bought it and read it over the next 3 or 4 weeks and decided to put the baby-led principles into practice with Li Li.

When our family doctor suggested giving Liam rice cereal at his 4-month well child visit, I was armed and ready. I whipped the book out of my diaper bag and proudly declared, "We are doing THIS."

He flipped through it and said, "That looks fine, but you can give him cereal now."

As Liam approached 6 months old, he began showing an interest in food and eating.  Even though the book said not to introduce solids until he could sit up unassisted, I decided to give it a try given that he was 6 months old.  I gave him some fingers of banana, cooked baby carrots, gluten and dairy free pancake, and cooked broccoli florets.  He loved it all, but the fruit was too slippery and the broccoli fell apart in his hands.  He seemed very happy when I would take some broccoli on my finger and put it into his mouth.  He wanted to be fed.

Going against the baby-led solids advice, I did an experiment with spoon-feeding.  I pureed some carrots and smashed up some pears.  Liam eagerly ate them from a spoon.  Sometimes he would grab the spoon at which point I allowed him to attempt self-feeding.  I watched for his signals and he let me know when he wanted more and when he was finished.  Even though I spoon-fed him, he led the way.

I still consider myself a practitioner of baby-led weaning/solids.  We are still giving Liam finger foods.  We look to him to let us know when he wants to be spoon-fed, when he wants another bite, when he wants to use the spoon, and when he is full.  He is still breastfeeding on-demand when I am not at work.  When he wakes at night, I nurse him back to sleep.  He is in control of his own feeding.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011....the year of the Happy Mama

I am definitely a person who makes plans, sets goals, and takes action.  I am not always successful, but I like to think I do a better job with follow-through than the average New Year Resolution maker.

This year, I've set one goal in each domain of my life.  They are all attainable, however some will be much easier than others.

Domain 1--The Home: Make consistent progress toward organizing the living room/dining room, full bathroom and kids' bedrooms.  This means setting small goals each month and tasks to be done each weekend.  This will be the most difficult of all the goals.

Domain 2--The Family: Cultivate a stronger, more positive relationship with my daughter.  This involves my partner as well, since a positive relationship rests on both parents being on the same page with communication and discipline.  

Domain 3--Wellness: Regain and maintain a weight of 120 lbs or less.  By-products of this goal include paying close attention to how my body reacts to certain foods and supplements and running several 5Ks.

Domain 4--Career: Re-commit to truly responsive education and best practice in the face of increasing standardization and quantification of student learning.  This may mean a second masters degree and a shift in how I contribute to the field if I become a casualty of Oregon's crappy budget.

Domain 5--Recreation: Continue to blog regularly--a minimum of one thoughtful post per week and make at least 1 article submission focusing on intuitive/natural parenting for the working mother.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010.....the year of the final BABY!

I only haphazardly blogged through 2010.  The year saw many changes:
That's it in a nutshell.  Stay tuned for my resolutions and plans for 2011.....