9 replies, Page 1

Vidya Chennai 2008-12-01 12:08:37


Hi, I am a parent of a 2.5 year old son (he will turn 3 in April). We live with his paternal grandparents. I am finding it a challenge to discipline him - teach him not to throw his things around, pick up his stuff and put them back where they belong (he does that at his montessori school but not at home), not to watch too much TV, etc. 

My questions - a. Is it too early to start worrying about discipline

b. Positive influence (be a good boy and don't throw stuff) doesn't always work, admonishing hardly works - he only seems to get more stubborn, I haven't tried hitting (Spare the rod and spoil the child - anyone agree?)

What are your views?

annu 2008-12-02 13:14:48


It will have to be a mix and match...for eg..

a) sometimes make it a game you play together of putting the toys back in their place...create labels for the play almirah...and ask him to put the right toy in th eright shelf...reward him with a goody at getting it right....you can help him learn colours and shapes like this...

b)link some benefits to cultivating good habits...instead of telling the child not to watch TV....let him know that when the clock shows a particular time like big hand is at 12 and small hand is at 6, switch off Tv and come to Amma and we'll go out to the park together or ask for your ice cream...but if you don't leave TV and come then that option is closed...

c) Enroll your inlaws support in helping him learn.....for eg..if the grandparents have a ritual that they follow, even though you may not ascribe to it...let your child participate in it....for eg. it can become the child's responsibility to bring th eflower or the tulsi for the morning puja

Please remember that a child that young does not know the difference between work and play, the reason he does it in Montessori is that it is packaged as part of the activity...you too have to package it that way...just like meal time in school is concluded by shutting your tiffinbox, mealtime at home is concluded by picking up your own utensils and carrying them to the kitchen sink....ofcourse you would have to have others in the family also participate in these things or atleast support these efforts..

The most important discipline is what grows in the child from within...in the long term being strict and dictatorial does not help...retain your patience and humor and enjoy your son's 'bala gopal' antics....be firm when you need to be, but don't scare the child :)


muminlove 2008-12-03 16:31:22


 I had sent a friend of mine a similar mail a while ago ...  

            I had bought a British magazine in Dubai that had an ad for reward charts. To make a long story short, I felt stupid asking my cousin to bring back kiddy charts that could only be sourced through mail order.  So anyways I still wanted to try them because of all the raving I've read about them.  These particular ones had stickers that you peel back. Since I didn't get the professionally printed charts ...i decided to make my own.  I  got out some pretty paper and markers and made boxes for stars.  My daughter wasn't too impressed when i showed her (this was like a year ago).  The way it works is that you give them only positive reinforcement.  I was a little sceptical .... but if it cut out the yelling I was willing to try it.  Every time she did something good she got a golden star to put on the wall on her chart.  Then I got a bag and filled it with cheap toys and gifts that were supposed to be a treat for her.  I have to tell you.  Naaj was most unimpressed. She barely worked for her stars .... when she got them.... all i got was a bored look. I tried to make the goody bag fun and interesting like lucky dip ..... but it didn't have the effect I was hoping for. Another friend of mine said it had worked for her for just a few weeks.  Then the novelty had worn off.
                       Not to be discouraged by such lack of enthusiasm, I kept at it. At first she told me that I could have the prizes.  Then I tried wrapping them up nicely and that didn't work either (they were little books)  Still I kept looking for opportunities to give her stars.  The way you do it is to notice all the things she does well and praise her for it.  So my daughter got stars for things like, cleaning up her toys without me reminding her, helping mummy with chores, sharing something without being told, keeping something back in it's proper place etc.  The hard part was just giving a  slow nod and a disapproving look when she wasn't doing the right thing. I was used to just  huffing at her, and this took practice.
                        I think we really started making progress when one day I noticed a flicker of interest when I upgraded the prizes.  I got her small packets of jelly beans.  Very small packets. This worked and she tried harder to win stars. By the way the Montessori system totally disapproves of bribes but I really don't think this falls under that category because I don't tell her I'll give her a star if she does what I want her to, I just watch her and appreciate what she does anyways.  So anyways things were going well and just getting better and better. Good behaviour was at an all time high and my nerves were getting a break. What made this all the more fun was one day I was cleaning out my closet ..... when I came across this gift box that i had bought on an impulse for far too much.  Every time i looked at it i kept thinking that I could have spent that money better.  So what did I do?  I used it to put the prizes inside.  Oh my!.... the difference that it made.  It's a gorgeous pink .... SPARKLY box .... with a scrumptious bow.  You should have seen naaj's face.  She was so happy she christened it the 'pricess box' the moment she saw it.  Needless to say she also slept with it that night, as she just couldn't bear to part with it.  
                     Being the smart woman that i am i picked up on the "Princess theme" and ran with it.  As of now we have princess stationary, princess stickers, princess colouring pencils and princess bubbles in there.  All these things cost less than Rs. 100 and i would have bought them for her anyways ..... but this way she thinks she earned them which makes them much more precious to her.  Like the other day she had invited a friend over and the first thing she did was take her over to the fridge to show her the princess magnets that she had won. Over dinner we congratulate her and ask her what she did to get so many stars.  she likes to repeat that she made it a point to keep up her good manners and good behaviour and that's why she's rolling in the lolly. 
                     The star chart and princess box have a dual purpose, not only do they act as a reward for naaj, but they also help mummy out by being a time delay tactic.  By this I mean when ever naaj just has to have something ( do we really need stuff?) I tell her that she may get it..... if she can show me patience. If she has a decent reason for wanting to buy it I give in sometimes and buy it but don't give it to her ..... i take it home and pop it into the princess box, otherwise if it doesn't need to be bought she forgets about it soon enough.
                      A good way of telling if she really wants something is if she mentions the same thing over a period of time.  Like the time she wanted sunglasses. I like buying her things and I love shopping myself but I don't like the idea of material things giving her satisfaction. Still shopping is a great way to reinforce good decision making skills and teaching her about money and waste.  So she found these glasses that she wanted .... (hot pink rims) and we went from shop to shop till we found the right pair, and we tried them on, and we were fussed over by the staff there .... finally when she got the right amount of stars we went in and picked up the sunglasses.  The joy on her face for having accomplished what she had set herself to do ..... it was an adorable flush. 
                  So now over a period of time the star chart and princess box have come to be a part of daily life.  To the point that even her teacher will try and coax me to give her extra stars by telling me how good she has been.  I love upping the surprise factor - it's always fun.  Naaj has become good at picking prizes. I give her the box and a good 10-15 minutes to make her mind up.  She empties the whole box carefully and mulls over each prize .... it's very cute to watch. The important decisions a 4 year old has to make!  Some days she'll ask if she can have 2 prizes because she just cant make her mind up.  I give my self a silent pat on the back for having found that box just sitting there in my closet and putting it to good use.  She also regularly thanks me for getting her such pretty things (which i didn't even teach her) so I like that.  All in all I think the star chart has added value to our lives. 
                Needless to say if you want to try it I give it a 2 thumbs up .... and for those of you who have boys keep in mind that the theme can always be changed to .... ninja box or super hero box etc. If you do choose to try it let me know how things go with you.


annu 2008-12-03 19:14:22


My adult son the other day reminded me of the stars i used to create for him :)

People at my office used to leave the foils from their cigaratte packs at my desk and i would cut out silver and gold stars from them to give to my son's tutor to reward him...

Obviously worked....he remembered them very fondly...and he is in one of the best engineering colleges in the country

but one thing i have tried to do always is reward the effort and not the result...for eg i once took my kids out for a lovely holiday because they had studied so hard and not waited for the examination results...my only expectation from them has been that - you shouldn't feel later that you didn't give it your best shot....


Vidya Chennai 2008-12-04 15:55:27


Thanks so much muminlove and annu - this has given me lot of encouragement; maybe I will try the stars thing for positive enforcement, let's see how it goes (fingers crossed).

Another thing, so how do you admonish bad behaviour? Any inputs on that? People have told me about a 'punishment corner' concept - any experiences?



annu 2008-12-04 23:39:07


There was a Dennis the Menace cartoon i had seen may years back...

Dennis's mother was sweeping the remains of a shattered vase from the floor, Dennis was poring over her shoulder and saying - "Must be wonderful to break something and not have anyone shout at you!"

It got me thinking, we punish the kids because we think we can...Is it not possible that we treat them with respect and allow them to make mistakes....don't we still make them ourselves..?

As it is, in the first few years of their life children are learning from observation, they are imbibing the values that the environment around them propogates.....if the child is learning by seeing, then we gotta teach him by doing, not just by saying...

I think more important than the punishment is the spirit in which the punishment is meted out. Jasoda Mayya tied up Bala Gopala when he stole the maakhan....

The point is - Where does discipline end and abuse begin? It could be a very fine line....we mothers gotta be really careful and watchout.....many a times we shout and punish the kids because we are stressed and have run out of patience.....our mom in law won't stop nagging, and our husband will not take our nagging, the poor kid gets shouted at and sent to the corner...for what....for being a kid?


mango_mama 2008-12-05 08:25:45


Just echoing what Annu is saying as well. Your child is just 2.5. Very little. 2 and 3 year olds are big into testing limits. So set few limits--choose your battles as Annu says and gently, firmly stick to these. Be consistent. let them know that behavior is bad and not them. let them know the consequences of what they do. for example, when u hit x, x gets hurt and will not want to play with you. how will u like it if x hits you. but at this age, they really do not understand abstract concepts and reasoning. but keep being gentle and consistent.

Keeping their toys back is something even older kids do not do. If important to you, then gently keep reminding them.

U know. Easier said than done. I am glad these days are over. Whew. terrible twos. This is as bad as it gets until they are teenagers they say. So, it can only get better in a little while. :-)

Be patient, if you really really are angry and frustrated, then perhaps maybe separate them from you (to prevent you from whacking them)--in lieu of "punishment corner".

Take care.




muminlove 2008-12-06 13:46:54


               I've tried the 'naughty corner' and I definately vouch for it.  I'm not sure if my daughter's personality was determined/stubborn and noisy or it was just the regular 'terrible two's' because she is quite a docile, content and co operative little lady now.  (at 5 years).  When I started the naughty corner I had just finnished my Montessori course so I was totally into the 'follow the child' theory.  It seemed really harsh to me at first.  I had never been punished like that as a child.  Still I had seen enough videos on child psychology to have enough faith that it wasn't damaging (some books do quote that). 

                 After checking a lot of places to see what she could understand -  I only punished her after repeating in a strong firm voice (not shouting, and not a sweet voice) that her behaviour (state the behaviour) was  unacceptable.  Then she got a warning (mummy will put you in the naughty corner if you keep this up) and then she went in there if she knowingly disobeyed.  

                 You can't punish children for things they do not understand, or tried but failed, or were confused about.  Only genuine disobediance.  2 minutes for  a two year old and 4 minutes for a 4 year old 6 mins for a 6 year old.  Not more than that because they forget what they were there for.  Before they go into the corner you need to tell them why they are going and also that when they are ready to say 'sorry' (sincerely) they may ask you to come out.   Listen to them when they say that .... explain that means that they must not do it again ... (they may need to visit the naughty corner a few times before they can remember not to repeat offensive behaviour ... that's normal) and give them a gentle hug and some reassurance that you have faith that they can do it.  This is not the time to hug them and try to ask their forgiveness for not being the ideal mummy .... although you may feel like doing just that.  I did ...!!!!  This is time to show that you love your child, you forgive them and will give them another chance.

           The naughty corner was great for us .... We started off with my daughter in the corner 5 times in one day .... and over time it goes down rapidly (you really have to be consistant with it) and now we haven't used it in years. Basically because we don't need to. 

           It's not nice to humiliate children so I never did it infront of people.  Also you need to give a good margin for what we 'think' is bad behaviour verses what che child is capable of following at that age.  You need to have daddy and grandparents all on the same page if this is to work or else the child gets confused.  My husband is too gentle and left all the punishing to me ... but it worked fine because my daughter sees me as consistant authority ...

           Coupled with firm rules, lots of affection and attention, and balance in all things I've found that the naughty corner worked fine and was much better than yelling and even constant explaining.  Just as long as you manage to have lots of fun and laughter when your child is behaving well.  :)



Ramya_G 2009-02-16 20:13:22


Hi All,

                 I learnt a lot of pointers from this thread...will try to follow some of yr techniques on my 5 and 2 yr olds.....both fight like crazy and test my limits in umpteen ways...:)


apar_sai 2009-02-18 05:54:43




re. putting away toys - my second son is 2 years old. I've told him and he understands very well that the next play can start only if the previous play is cleared. He can listen to a story or open the play-dough only if he puts away the blocks. 

I used to help my first child with the clearing and I notice that even at 6 years he wants my hand all the time. Now I don't help the second one. He is happy to put away 30+ blocks on his own. And feels very good to see the clean floor, ready for the next activity :).








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