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The line between fear and respect

Hollywood, FL
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The line between fear and respect

One of the hardest things for me to do is try and get a tantrum throwing toddler to listen to you without putting a little fear into them. Now I’m not talking about losing your cool and throwing your own version of a raging tantrum (I’ve admittedly done that and immediately felt terrible), but displaying just enough dominance to make sure they know who’s boss. Here is the scenario: my child will hit my wife because she knows that it just means more time -out. If I enter the room and say “the next time you mommy will result in a spanking from daddy” She stops hitting mommy. A minute later she winds up to hit mommy again, but at the last second she sees me looking at her and decides to not hit mommy. I really hate being the tough bad guy, but I also refuse to let our child think she can dominate the family. Just like training certain breeds of dogs requires more of an “alpha” or dominant approach than others, might some children require the same?

Comments

  1. Yes, you are right. It is important for the kids to know who is in charge and exactly what their boundaries are. Consistency is key. She is testing both you and mom to see what she can get away with and whom she can control. Your children should recognize your both yours and mom’s authority as equal or she will learn to either a) pit one against the other or b) who to disregard. Neither option is desirable. Her consequences should be the same regardless of if they are coming from you or from mom. Isn’t parenting a toddler fun? 🙂 Never a dull moment!

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  2. Discipline is vital, but should be accompanied with love.

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  3. Totally agree; discipline accompanied by love. I’ve also found it ten times easier to discipline if you don’t get emotionally bothered or lose your cool. You stay calm and remind yourself they are irrational children; two minutes later they are laughing and telling you how much they love you!

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    1. Easier said than done not to become emotionally bothered or lose your cool when it comes to discipline. One thing which has helped me along the way is understanding how I don’t just parent, I also model. I am fearful to model and display anger in fear that they will grow up with anger in their hearts, imitating my behavior. If I do display a temper and slight anger with them, I’m quick to follow up with calm compassion. This awareness has been working so far.

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  4. Great point, Michael! We teach far more with our own behavior than our words. The old saying is true…”Actions speak louder than words.” And in the event we lose our cool the best thing we can do is to model humbly owning what we did by admitting we were wrong and recognizing what a better choice could have been. Because, we all know that it is not a matter of if but when our kids will melt down and they should know what to do after that happens. Great learning opportunity!

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  5. Brad,
    This doesn’t make sense to me and I doubt it makes sense to your child. I understand as the parent you are in charge. However, I don’t think telling her it’s wrong to hit her mother and if she does that wrong thing then you will hit her. I’m sure she is getting the mixed signal you are sending. If it’s wrong to for her to hit someone when she is upset then why is it okay for someone to hit her when they are upset with her? Have you and your wife tried ignoring her when she’s throwing a tantrum? Usually the child will stop (sooner or later) when she sees she’s not getting attention. Your wife could step up and say “If you are going to try and hit me then I am leaving the room. I don’t want to be around anyone who hits”, and then walk out of the room and close the door.

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  6. Kind of a side note… When we were kids, my mom would always tell us the same thing before we went into a store or restaurant or wherever we happened to be going. She would huddle us together and tell us that if we acted up inside, she wouldn’t say or do anything right then but that we should know that when we got back to the car, she was going to “pinch a bloody plug” out of us! Mind you, I don’t think any of us ever found out what exactly a bloody plug was or how it felt to have one pinched out of us, but just the image and her seriousness made us behave! 😉

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