Thursday, September 22, 2011

The End of Innocence

Have you ever noticed that you never need to teach your children how to disobey?  Give them enough time, and they come by this naturally.

Recently, it's become apparent that Kerrington, the can-do-no-wrong-baby as all babies originally appear, is growing up to be a normal toddler who can (and does) do wrong.  It's the end of innocence.

A few weeks ago, she discovered -- with great pleasure, I must add -- how to throw food from her high chair.  Meal by meal the scene unfolded: cereal on the floor at breakfast, grapes and cheese on the floor at lunch, spaghetti on the floor at dinner.  Occasionally her bowl or plate was tossed, too, rotating along the linoleum like a coin that had been flicked and spun until it ran out of momentum and dropped.

Intervention time.

Discipline never is fun -- not for the child, and not for the parent.  Each time Kerrington tossed her food, I scooped from her high chair, carried her into a separate room, and placed her in a pack and play (set up solely for this purpose) by herself.  She would cry.  I'd find food that had been squirreled away in her cheeks strewn about the pack and play when I returned to get her after a minute.

We'd repeat this situation: throw food, pick her up, carry her to the other room, place in pack and play, bring her back, throw food, pick her up, carry her away... lather, rinse, repeat.

Each time I envisioned how much easier it would be to ignore her misbehavior.  Or, how much more convenient it would be to set a tarp underneath her high chair and shake out all the tossed food at the conclusion of each meal.  I might be able to finish a meal while it was still warm or remain seated for longer than three minutes.

But that wouldn't get to the root of the problem.  So, I carried on.  Stayed the course.  Ate lukewarm meals for a week.  I did what parents do: I remained consistent, teaching her how to do right rather than just masking what she was doing wrong.

It's worked.  Kerrington hasn't thrown her food, her plate, or any utensils for two full weeks.

Now onto the hair pulling.

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3 comments:

  1. Bravo. We took the advice of my brother, whose son (now 12) behaved very well as a youngster. He said that it's easier to set the behavior and discipline a child when he/she weighs 30 pounds than when he/she weighs 90. We do the same thing.

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