I'll get back to our road trip in the next day or so. For now, a quick word on parent education.
For the first time, I have picked up a book on dealing with my toddler. What to Expect: The Toddler Years (Eisenberg, A., Murkoff, H.E., Hathaway, S.E. (1994) Workman Publishing, NY.) has given me some positive insight into handling my toddler. One of my favorite things about the book is that it is realistic about different children requiring different parenting, “Every child is different, every family is different, each circumstance is different,” (120).
The book was recommended by my pediatrician's post-appointment handout. After a few situations that I realized could have been handled better, I decided that some outside research might be needed.
JD is my 18-month-old son. Only when he is heading into a dangerous situation I can't physically stop do I think it's appropriate to yell. Going in the street. Going for a sharp knife on the counter that I forgot to put away (again.) Those situations that require his immediate and uncompromising cooperation to ensure his safety.
Lately I've found myself being a bit lazy. Sometimes after dinner, my wife and I will sit and watch a little TV. If JD brings a book to us, we'll read, otherwise he often plays by himself. However, he often will want our attention and will gain it by intentionally doing something he knows is a no-no. He went up to the TV and banged on it. I found myself yelling from my chair, "JD, no!" expecting him to obediently comply without objection. Combining the time of day with the fact that he was doing it trying to play with my volume and tone made made him cry. Not out of remorse, but out of fear.
I am not afraid of JD having some fear of me. He should first and foremost know that I love him unconditionally. However, positive reinforcement should come before negative scolding. I do believe that he should be afraid of disobeying me. Not fear of losing my love and certainly not fear of corporal punishment. He should understand that my word is God's word. A friend of mine and I concluded that a good Dad is a little intimidating.
With that, there were several things I did wrong. First, I did not get up and attend to the situation. “Correction is much more effective when it takes place face to face. So rather than call from the other side of the room . . . walk up to your child, look him or her squarely in the eye, and say your piece. Let your body language, tone of voice, and expression make it clear that you mean business,” (123). Second, there was no alternative given, no redirection. If I had gotten up and met him face to face, I could have said, “JD, don't touch the TV – you could break it. Why don't we go read a book?” or, “Why don't we sit down, watch the White Sox, and drink some milk?" This way, he gets his attention and his Mom and I get a some quiet time to relax. “Follow through is crucial. . . If your actions don't speak at least as loud as your words, your admonitions will lose their impact,” (122). Finally, I made him feel like he was being bad. But for me to yell, "JD, NO! Don't touch the TV!" was absolutely the wrong way to handle it.
As I grow up with my child, I will learn effective and ineffective ways to discipline JD. Some things that work now may not work next week or even tomorrow. The most important things include ensuring that laziness has no part of discipline, instilling fear can lead to feelings of loss of love, and constantly update your skills.