Being Daddy

by doodaddy on July 31, 2008

One of Boo’s latest games is “Being Daddy.” To wit:


I think she’s about to give me a time out.

With my hat and glasses on she becomes an uncanny — and alarming — reflection of how she sees me.

As “me,” she says:

    • “I’m going to push you on the swing. Kick your legs! Kick! Kick! Kick! You’re making me do everything!”
    • “Just checking my e-mail.”
    • “I need my coffee before we can go anywhere.”

No surprises there. But the worst was:

  • “Joey needs to go to her room to think about it.”

Joey is Boo’s imaginary friend and I suppose she’s her surrogate target for punishment, too. Ouch.

When I was teaching, I got really good at meting out the kind of discipline that kids don’t really notice. It was more like training a dolphin: you reward the behavior you want and ignore what you don’t. Since dolphins (and children) crave attention, they are slowly conditioned to do the right thing.

That totally works. With older kids. And maybe only with other people’s kids.

Toddlers are cut from more resilient cloth. I can “praise-the-good-behavior” until my cheeks are red and she still pushes, snatches, won’t share.

It hasn’t reached ridiculous levels (yet), but up to a half dozen times a day I’ll have to give “consequences” of the usual toddler sort — 2-minute time-outs followed by discussions and apologies — when she hits or refuses to sit for dinner or snatches a toy.

Working Mom and I give each other reality checks every now and then: “She’s only 2½,” we’ll say to one another. “Give it time.”

In the moment, though, with a starving toddler refusing to eat because it’s more fun to draw with permanent marker all the way up her arms, it’s hard to keep from getting frustrated.

And I HATE frustration. HATE it HATE it HATE it.

How much do I suck at this?

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tagged as , in behavior,failure ·

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

PJ July 31, 2008 at 12:27 pm

You probably have a leg up on most parents – they don’t have your teaching experience. And sometimes I just remind myself that if the kid skips a meal, they’re not going to starve to death. IMO the main thing is to not then let them have between-meal snacks to make up for meals they didn’t want to eat.

Not being hungry is its own reward.


doodaddy July 31, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Yeah, the thing is, if she gets hungry, she just won’t sleep, all night — so that’s not really an option.


Annie July 31, 2008 at 12:56 pm

Eh – I reckon I must suck at it too!

We are currently in punishment mode – no tv shows and no swim class tomorrow. I made the threat and I have to follow through – so we’ll see what results if any it yields.

Postitive reinforcement does work, eventually – you just have to grind your teeth sometimes, choke down the frustration and forge ahead, or so I tell myself when my immediate and hard to quench gut reaction to my child screaming at me in temper is to scream right back- sometimes I even succeed!

Sorry – should have written my own blog post about this I guess!


doodaddy July 31, 2008 at 2:44 pm

What did they do to earn the punishment?

I’m not against consequences, of course — it’s just that I always tried the positive reinforcement first. (Purely practical — it works better.) Not with my own kid, though… what’s *that* about?


Rattling the Kettle July 31, 2008 at 2:56 pm

I find that my ~3 year old misbehaves mostly when either tired or hungry. Thankfully, he doesn’t push or hit — his bad behavior is mostly of the whining and tantrum varieties. I try to be patient, but am embarrassed to admit that I’m only successful about half the time. I haven’t found a perfect solution yet, but a change in scenery or activity does tend to do the trick more often than not, as does expediting bedtime (when it’s tired-induced) or giving him half a PB&J (when it’s hunger-induced).

By the way, the bad behavior definitely kicked into high gear in the last six months. If Boo is like Ronen, you’re in for a fun half-year.


mrs. chicken July 31, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Exactly as much as the rest of us do.



chicago pop August 1, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Just like training dogs. Really. Dont’ kick them when they pee on the rug. Just give them a treat when they pee outside.

Although it’s interesting that you say the positive reinforcement works best for older, not younger, kids, exactly when kids should be reasoning — say elementary school age, and is difficult when reasoning is just emerging — toddler stage. Kind of flips the model of positive conditioning as behavioralist fascism.

But glad to hear it works, as it’s our natural approach.


Debbie August 2, 2008 at 1:12 am

You don’t suck at all and you clearly make me laugh daily, Relax, take a deep breath and enjoy every minute because there will be the day when you will fondly remember these moments. (I’m still waiting, just gave up the fight.)
Kids will not starve – they will eat when hungry and..ummm…don’t we all?!?!

The twos are not so terrible – just different. You now have an independent mind sharing herself. Good!!!!
Now you really get to know her! (and if she’s hungry, she’ll let you know!)

By the way, this dumb mom once told a strong minded toddler that she was not leaving the table until she finished every bite on her plate. She ate all but the last bite and fell asleep at the table claiming she was “nocturnal, like and owl. Whoo Whoo” Needless to say we carried her to bed and I don’t have those fights anymore. They WIN!


Dondi Tiples August 2, 2008 at 10:51 pm

really bad. i’m worse off than you are. *sigh*


Ophelia Rising August 5, 2008 at 4:01 pm

You’re singing my song, man. Frustration has become my middle name.

But, no suckage! No suckage at all! I love the way you handle discipline, and actually, all the child psychologists (that I’ve read) say that it’s the best way to teach your child – that the positive reinforcement stuff really works. Besides, compared with many parents, you are a dream. Please don’t worrry. In my very humble opinion, you are totally on the right track with her, as far as I can see. Take heart!

(By the way, sorry I’ve been so absent lately. I’ve been sort of out of the blogging loop for a little while. I think sometimes a break is needed, at least for me)!


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