Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Crime and punishment

So no doubt because I took the time to complain about it, for the past two nights K has gone to bed cheerfully with no protests. B has been working late, so I've put K to bed and left her with the lamp on. She's played quietly until B got home and went in to say good night (I don't care if she doesn't go to sleep right away after we put her to bed as long as she stays in her room and is quiet), at which point she voluntarily turned out the light and settled down to sleep. After two nights in a row, I think we can officially mark the Passing of the Phase.

And as I predicted, she has a new way to drive me crazy - bothering the cats and pulling their tails. So far, our approach to discipline has been either removal and redirection or using natural consequences (e.g., if she deliberately makes a mess, she has to clean it up). But for the life of me, I can't think of the natural consequence of pulling the cats' tails, and then deliberately doing it again when I tell her to stop. Well, I can think of a natural consequence, but I don't find it acceptable (letting her attack the cats until they bite or scratch her).

Hurting the cats is an offense that requires swift action and immediate negative consequences, but I'm having trouble coming up with what that should be. I don't want to spank her, although I'm starting to really understand people who do. There's nothing like yelling at a toddler and having her laugh at you to make you want to do something to wipe the smile off of her face and get her to take you seriously. A timeout was certainly punishing for everyone involved, but since it was basically a two-minuts wrestling match to get her to stay put, I didn't really care for it. I'm not sure what other effective, non-violent punishments there are for two-year-olds.

So for those of you with two-year-olds (or former two-year-olds), what's your approach to discipline? What do you do when it's too late for prevention and the offense doesn't have a natural consequence?

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