This week we began a new chapter in parenting a 2 year old; time-outs! Last week I had two friends over and their 3 sweet children. As is normal there was a bit of arguing between the 3 oldest kids about who gets what toy. However my "always sweet (joking)" 2 year old threw the tantrum of the century! I had never seen anything like it or even close to it come out of her. It was crazy and totally caught me off guard. Not cool. After that it was like, well yeah I guess it's time to start time-outs. So two days ago after telling her many times not to, she got into baby sissy's clothes again. Yes, it's cute, but a toddler should not be wearing and stretching out size 6 month clothes. So I told her, "These are baby sissy's clothes and they are too small for you. If you choose to get into them again, you will go in time-out. Do not get into these clothes." And that was that for the day. Then yesterday she appeared after a dangerous 15 minute disappearance wearing 3 layers of infant clothes! I knew I'd already told her the consequence and even though that was the day before, I needed to follow through asap. I have a very difficult time being around the "if you do that one more time you'll be in time-out. Child does it again. Do you want to be in time-out? Child does it again. You better not do that one more time, etc etc etc." type of parenting. Can't stand that! In our home you are warned and if you choose to disobey you get the consequence. No warnings needed. So anyway, she got into the clothes, time for her very first time-out! I held her hand and walked her over to the bottom step of our staircase and said, "Eliana, sit here for 2 minutes. You are in time-out. Mommy told you not to get into baby sissy's clothes and you chose to get into them anyway. Sit here and think about what you did and I'll come get you in 2 minutes." Amazingly, she stayed there! She cried and said "uppy mommy, uppy!" and came into the kitchen once to get a kleenex, but it was nothing like the crazy screaming fits you see on Supernanny. When the timer went off (btw it's one minute of time-out per year of age) I went to her and coached her to say "sorry mommy" and give me a hug. I told her, "I love you and I want you to do the right thing." Wow, it went well! We went on with our day after that and it was no big deal. I felt sort of relieved that I had recourse now when she disobeyed and that consequences would be clear to both of us. Later in the day she went and got into my computer, digital camera, and printer. I clearly told her earlier that day that if she did she would get a time-out. Alright- time-out take 2! It was basically the same as the first one but at the end I decided to add, "Elly, say will you forgive me mama?" She said it as best she could and I said, "I forgive you."
The same thing happened this morning and it went well. I guess I thought it would be awful and she wouldn't understand why I was making her sit somewhere for 2 minutes, but it's been great. For now I will try to give time-outs only for obvious misbehavior or things I have told her she'd get a time out for. I want the boundaries to be clear as we're figuring this out and I also don't want her to feel like she can't breathe without getting a time out. And most importantly, if I outline the boundary and she crosses it, she'll get a time-out. No warnings!
Why did we wait until 2 1/2 to do time-outs? Well honestly, they weren't needed. Eliana has a tender heart and up until now simply a word of reproach was enough to bring her to tears and change the behavior. But now as she's getting older and a bit more stubborn there is a need for more clear consequences.
My mom's group is going through Boundaries with Kids. It's a good study and I think causes some thought about how we are all parenting. Thursday's session said that you cannot be a good parent if you can't tolerate your kids hating you. Life isn't fair and it cannot always be 'even'. Children do not necessarily like to be disciplined, but the result of boundaries and discipline is a happier, well mannered child.
I have also been thinking about the heart of discipline and what I hope to achieve in teaching Elly's heart. I hope to take Elly from the very human place of , "well I had it first, give it back!" to , "you are my friend, I am grateful for you and I'm grateful for all these toys. You may have it regardless of who had it first." This seems to be opposite of our culture. Our culture feeds envy and teaches us the "I had it first" mentality and this is generally just normal parenting. But I want more for my girls. I feel that if we teach them to have a grateful, tender heart as children they will continue that way for life. The way God parents us is how I hope to parent my children. I believe God wants us to be grateful and giving and let go of envy and selfish self-preservation. I have a great friend named "M" (you know who you are, didn't want to post your name without asking) and she is a wonderful example of this type of parenting. It's about teaching our children to be 'self-less' instead of 'selfish'. I think some people believe this means making your child a doormat, but it really doesn't. A child can still say, "please don't hit me or please don't take this toy from me or that hurts my feelings" without screaming and saying, "I HAD IT FIRST!" Which is what we all normally hear at play dates. "M" is teaching her girls self-lessness and I love it. She recommends the book Sheperding a Child's Heart. I haven't read it yet, so I can't say too much about it, but I like how it's playing out in my friend's discipline. I've heard the book talks about physical punishment and I honestly am not a fan of that for most children, but my particular friend does time-outs and I believe we can take the good out of a book and leave the rest.
Speaking about books, we were talking about some parenting books at my mom's group and a few were mentioned, "Love and Logic", "Shepherding a Child's Heart", and "To Train Up a Child". We didn't go in depth about them at all, but when I got home and googled it I realized that To Train Up a Child is written by the Pearls. The Pearls (or rather their books) have been a part of numerous cases involving child abuse, even to the point of death. Watching 20/20 last night about Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Churches and the abuse that happens there the Pearls and their book was once again brought up. Early last year I came across their website and was outraged reading it and how they instruct parents to spank young infants- as young as 3 or 4 months! They talk about breaking their will from the moment they are born and it's referred to as training. Many a mother has had failure to thrive babies because of this. The Pearl's condone getting a newborn on a schedule and often that schedule is not enough for a baby to thrive. To tell a mother she can only nurse every 4 or 5 hours is like breastfeeding suicide. Good luck keeping up your milk supply or growing your baby if you do that! Today I was on their website searching for those old articles and it looks like a lot of it has been replaced with politically correct articles or has been deleted. That's good I suppose but the scary thing is that thousands of parents are following the Pearl's methods and receiving their newsletter. So yes, I definitely believe we can and should pick and choose and basically just filter whatever we read, but the Pearl's message is so scary it shouldn't even be read.
Here are some references:
1) The Pearls recommend whipping infants only a few months old on their bare skin. They describe whipping their own 4 month old daughter (p.9). They recommend whipping the bare skin of "every child" (p.2) for "Christians and non-Christians" (p.5) and for "every transgression" (p.1). Parents who don't whip their babies into complete submission are portrayed as indifferent, lazy, careless and neglectful (p.19) and are "creating a Nazi" (p.45).
2) On p.60 they recommend whipping babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them "to get up." On p.61 they recommend whipping a 12 month old girl for crying. On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.
3) On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with. On p.56 Debi Pearl hits a 2 year old so hard "a karate chop like wheeze came from somewhere deep inside."
4) On p.44 they say not to let the child's crying while being hit to "cause you to lighten up on the intensity or duration of the spanking." On p.59 they recommend whipping a 3 year old until he is "totally broken."
5) On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her.
6) On p.46 the Pearls say that if a child does obey before being whipped, whip them anyway. And "if you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher." "Defeat him totally." On p.80 they recommend giving a child having a tantrum "a swift *forceful* spanking." On the same page they say to whip small children on their bare skin until they stop screaming. "Don't be bullied. Give him more of the same." They say to continue whipping until their crying turns into a "wounded, submissive whimper."
7) On p.47 they recommend their various whips, including "a belt or larger tree branch" to hit children.
8) The Pearls recommend pulling a nursing infant's hair (p.7), and describe tripping their non-swimming toddler so she falls into deep water (p.67). They recommend ignoring an infant's bumped head when he falls to the floor, and ignoring skinned knees (p.86). They also say "if your child is roughed-up by peers, rejoice." (p.81) And on p.103 the Pearls say if children lose their shoes, "let them go without until they (the children) can make the money to buy more."
9) The Pearls claim their "training" methods are Godly, yet they have *no religious training or credentials* They never mention Jesus' injunctions to forgive "seventy times seven" and be merciful, and they decry the "extraordinary ignorance of modern psychology."
I'll also add that the Pearls have ZERO formal education in child psychology, discipline, breastfeeding, nutrition, etc. They are just two people who decided to start a 'ministry' (yikes!).
So yeah, please don't buy that book!!!
Let's love our children the way God loves us and let our discipline be an extension of our love. God doesn't attempt to break our will. He loves us and gets at our heart. It's always about our heart isn't it? Our loving Father has given us the best example of a parent and I'm sure He planned that :)