When should "discipline" start? How do you define discipline?

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Whether Christian or not, we all know there are 1million books out there on child-rearing, with even more differing opinions on what is "right" and "wrong" or "most effective". After coming across a post about "Disciplining an 8 month old", I was wondering what you all's thought's were on when "discipline" should start, and what it means to you? I have googled Christian child-rearing books, and raising Christian children and have gotten results ranging from discipline starting at 6 months (smacking on the hand for EVERY offense i.e. putting up a fight with a diaper change or clothes change), or just for "dangerous" situations (poking the light socket), to other books saying only redirection or time-out is appropriate after 12 months.

In my opinion it depends on the child, the age, and the offense. What's your take? Not looking to start an argument! Just friendly, debatable conversation.

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Carla - posted on 02/14/2013

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Each child is different. I used to tell people I had three children, one of each ;) With our oldest, she was like your daughter, Kristin, who laughed at any discipline. She was on restriction her entire high school years. She HAD to get the last word in, even when she KNEW she wasn't going to be able to go out with the girls if she said her parting comment. Then, after she had stomped every last nerve ending I had, she would say 'Didn't mean to make ya mad'. She was a challenge from the time she was 6 til now (she's the one who called the police on us to tell us not to contact her anymore. That was 1999, and we haven't seen her or the grandbabies since 2000, which was a chance meeting). Our middle child, our son, was real easy, and the baby, another girl, all you had to do was look at her and say 'Randi Jill!' in a stern voice, and she'd dissolve into a pile of tears. The last two were very easy!

I started training as soon as they were crawling/in their walkers. People say they don't understand at that age, but don't believe them! I never put anything up out of their reach. They were going to have to live in our world, so they had to learn what was okay and what wasn't. If they went up to a plant or knick-knack and started to touch it I'd say 'no-no' and push their walker in the opposite direction. If they went back, I'd say a little firmer 'No!' and push the walker away. After that, if they went back again, they got a little pat on the hands and a VERY firm 'No!' They usually got it. As a grandmother, I have a little more time, and when they go up to something and want to look or touch, I got the object and let them touch it and look up close, but didn't let them play with it. They LOVE my decorative egg collection. But even at 7 and almost 6, I don't let them hold them by themselves. One their mother brought me from Italy, and can never be replaced, the others are made out of ostrich eggs, and are terribly fragile.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but we have had such good results with the naughty spot that I just can't see any other way of discipline/training. Faith used to have melt-downs, for no apparent reason. It was like a black cloud passed over her face and she would just be naughty. So, naughty spot also became 'attitude adjustment spot'. And it works beautifully! I think separating them from the situation and giving them some quiet, even if it's just 4 minutes seems to give them enough time to find a different mood. Our grandson started lying (age 4). When we caught him, he'd say 'oh, I was just kidding', and that flew for a couple times until it was obvious he just wanted to lie. So, we sat and talked about lying, and made sure he understood the difference between kidding and outright lying. We laid very careful, precise guidelines. The first lie was 4 minutes. The next day he lied again, and we doubled the time, 8 minutes. A couple days later, he lied again! This time it was 12 minutes, and this must have begun to sink in, cuz he's never lied to me since. He's funny--he told me a story and I said 'Grant, is this the truth?' And he said 'What's gonna happen to me if I tell you the truth?' And I said 'Not near as much as if you lie to me!' And he told me the truth. So I had to adjust the punishment for the deed, because he told me the truth.

We had been trying to train them to not run from us when we were out in public. I thought we had it licked until we had stopped at McD's after school. Mark got Faithy out on his side of the car, and I got Grant. As I was shutting the door and getting his coat, he started running after Papa and Faith. A car pulled into the drive fast, and I let out a scream and leaped to get him (as best a 60 y/o can leap ;)) The car screeched it's brakes and scared him half to death. Grant's face went white, and we went in and sat down to talk. This was probably the best example to him I could have come up with (albeit the scariest also). I have NEVER had to remind him again.

You have to be a negotiator to be a parent. Each situation is different and has to be handled as such. I surely do wish I knew when I was raising their mother and uncle and aunt what I know now! But we have these two children every day after school and during breaks, so I am involved in whatever is going on. With my other grandbabies I don't see as often, discipline/training has to dove-tail with what my son and dil use.

Spanking is needed in some situations, when there is willful disobedience that can harm them. I was spanked, my children were spanked. Now that I have found the naughty spot, it works so much better, without the anger that goes with it, I haven't spanked them in years. When the naughty spot is used consistently, it takes the anger out of the situation. 'Grant, don't throw your toy.' 'Grant, Grammy said don't throw your toy. This is your warning. If you do it again, you're going in the naughty spot.' If he continues, go get him, get down eye level with him and say 'Grant, you are going in the naughty spot because you did not mind Grammy'. Then put them in the spot, set the timer for 1 min per year of age, and walk away, but keep an eye on them. IF they have sat there quietly for their time, go get them, get down to eye level and say 'Grant, why are you in the naughty spot?' 'Because I didn't mind you, Grammy'. 'Okay, tell Grammy you're sorry'. SINCERE sorries only. Then hug and kiss and go on. I find our time together is much happier, because I don't let the situation get to the anger point. It's taken care of immediately.

Discipline is a tool for training. Our ultimate goal is to raise a Godly, law-abiding person. A lot of prayer is required for each child as well as for yourself ;)

God bless!

Carla - posted on 02/14/2013

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You just have to try everything to make it work. Like I said, our youngest I don't think ever got spanked, she didn't need it, a disapproving tone was enough.

God will give you strength, honey. As He gave your husband the answer, He will also guide you in handling little Miss Princess ;) Just remember, these are Gifts from God, and He thinks you can handle this. Your battle wounds will make great stories when they are grown and think they're smart ;) Just make sure you and Hubby are on the same page and present a united front to the children. If they can divide you and make you fight, you have lost.

God bless everyone!

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Loretta - posted on 05/21/2013

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If you understand the word "discipline" as meaning "training" or "guidance", this isn't as difficult a question. Training and guidance is what we do every day as parents. The question is actually what form of training and guidance do you use. It is tough as a young parent to have so many contrasting opinions flying around when you want so badly to do the very best for your child. Couple that with the fact that the real results of what you are doing are very long in coming and you don't even always know when to adjust!! I have two daughters who are 20 and 23 and a little one who is 4. In my experience, I have deeply regretted every time I went against my gut instinct because of something an expert said. I do not believe it is ever appropriate to hit a baby--I think the first 12 months, the most important thing we can do for our children is love them to bits and make sure their needs are met. The bond we are forming that year and the trust they develop in us will be the foundation of all the training and guidance we give them for many years after that. Even through the teenage years, I think the number one important thing is that bond and trust. If it is damaged, we need to do whatever we can to repair it. Without that bond of love and trust with them, we can impose rules, but we will not have the same influence on their character and values--and that's what really matters in the end.
It sounds like you have good instincts knowing that you need to be appropriate to the age of your child and the offense. My guess is you are a really good mom.

Ann - posted on 05/19/2013

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I highly recommend books by Dr. Thomas Phelan, and the late Dr. Dobson. Dr. Phelan wrote mostly about kids with ADHD or ADD, but the same principles apply to so-called normal kids.
I don't think physical discipline is acceptable until a child is able to understand WHY they are being disciplined. Redirection is more appropriate, yes, it is more trying, and wears on one's patience, but smacking a baby simply doesn't make sense. Hang something over the changing table to occupy the child's interest, have a couple of new toys or teething biscuits handy during changing time. Does your baby have bad diaper rash? that could be some of the reason for the fighting. Sing to her, make eye contact, make silly faces, etc. Interact.
Baby proof your home. I only spanked when my children endangered themselves or each other. Another reason was blatant disrespect. But I rarely spanked. I took away priviledges, TV time, play time, things I knew they liked. A spanking, especially to my son, was done and over with, no big deal, then he went on with his business, but losing TV time..................... that meant the world ended.
Anyway, each child is different as they get older, you will learn what works what does not, but, I left spanking as the last resort, and the kids knew if I spanked they were in BIG trouble.

Carla - posted on 02/15/2013

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I'm glad, Angela. It's very difficult to forgive a lifetime of abuse. While my mother did not abuse us physically (much), she has manipulated, controlled and terrorized for, from what I have heard, since she was a teenager. The thing I am angriest about is her treatment of the sweet, loving, gentle man she married, and watching her over the years castrate him verbally. Her temper gets uncontrollable, and she put my two grandchildren in great harm's way, then lied to try to get herself out of a jam. When she took my nephew in to her house (she lives in a house on our property) after he had tried setting up a meth lab in his mother's garage. My sister called and told us NOT to take him in, and not to give him anything other than a meal and send him on his way (he's 30). We got into it on Christmas Eve (timing sucked, but my daughter tried to make nice). The conversation went downhill really bad, and I ended up by telling her I couldn't trust her with my grandbabies, and I couldn't trust her not to throw me under the bus with her lies. Since that time, several other family members have seen firsthand what I have been trying to get them to remember and understand this HAS to stop.

Forgiveness is difficult when the person just keeps on transgressing, then wants to just start talking again and sweep things under the rug. I understand now how much we have enabled her, but quite frankly, she scares me. I don't hate her, I am very angry with her. I realize at 85 she won't be here much longer, but as it stands right now, I will mourn that I didn't have a mother role-model.

I applaud you, that you could put the past behind you. I am attempting that right now.

God bless, hon

Angela - posted on 02/15/2013

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Carla, as I matured over the years, I forgave my father, because he was a product of his own times and the upbringing he'd had himself. Life's too short to hold grudges. He died in 2010. My siblings were less forgiving, but do you know something? For all his faults he struck up a great relationship with one of my sons! At my daughter's wedding last August, my middle son (I have 3 boys) said "I don't really care what my mother or my Auntie or Uncles have to say about my Granddad - he was a top bloke and I miss him!"

Yes, I felt proud of my son. Despite the sad memories, my Dad was able to relate well to at least ONE member of his extended family - my son - who is able to remember him with fondness and pride.

Our earthly lives are not one drop in the ocean compared to Eternity. But it's nice to depart this earthly plane knowing you'll be missed. My son misses his Granddad.

Carla - posted on 02/15/2013

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This has been a very enlightening post, Angela. I understand now your rebellion at your father. This was abuse, not training and not discipline. I'm glad you were able to overcome your trauma and become such a wonderful woman.

I do not understand the mentality of injuring your children. This is NOT Christian, and it isn't even HUMAN. You were absolutely correct to go to the authorities. And if he left you out of family affairs, he might have been doing you a favor--although I'm sure you felt abandoned. He obviously abused your mother as well, if she were so frightened of you reporting him. These men, just as those who molest their children, need to be held accountable for their heinous deeds.

God bless, honey

Angela - posted on 02/14/2013

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My father was fond of spanking - too fond. We were hit with sticks, straps, rubber piping - you name it! We were left marked with weals and bruises - and this went on through most of my teens. Until the day a friend told me I didn't have to put up with it. So one day, when I was 17 he thrashed me with a stick and left huge black bruises which had red broken skin in the middle. I did as I'd been advised and went straight to the Police, who photographed my wounds and prosecuted him. He went to Court and was ordered to pay a fine (not very large). And his name got splashed over the local newspaper.

A couple of years later when I was living back there, he hit me full force in the face with his hand. I had a fat lip but I just kept my mouth closed and left the house. Went to a local store and bought a candy bar that came in a black paper wrapper. I used some of the paper to black out a couple of teeth and went back into the house. My father had gone out. Told my mother he'd injured me and I'd be going back to the Police again to report the matter and make a complaint. My mother looked terrified.

Then I smiled at her (from across the room - not close enough for her to see the black paper!). She started crying and said she didn't believe he'd knocked 2 teeth out. She went on to say "You would DELIBERATELY deface yourself, knock out your own teeth to get your father into trouble...." She was very frightened. I left the house.

When I returned later on, and he was home. My father said that my mother had told him he'd hurt me and he wanted to look at the damage .... I kept my lips closed as the teeth weren't missing and the black paper had been removed - but I still had a fat lip. He was worried though - he thought I may have been to the Police. He said "If you betray me again to the Police and you'll never get in this house again ...." A couple of years down the line he said "You've been left out of ALL family wills because you disgraced this family's name ..."

They'd never even heard of the naughty corner when I was young.

[deleted account]

Claire I agree with you as well. I always say both of my kids have been here before, because they are just too smart for their own good, lol! I never moved anything out of reach with my children either. I didn't really have a choice though, since it wasn't my house (you know the story ;-) ). But the same reason none the less: children have to learn their boundaries. My son never had a problem with it a simple "no" was enough for him, but my daughter is into EVERYTHING! Like I said, I have never seen I little girl as independent and rough as she is! My son was such an easy baby, but boy did I pay for it later! After he turned 3 it was like he turned into a whole different little boy. He had meltdowns as well, like you described with your granddaughter. If he heard the word "No" it could result in 3 hours of screaming. He hated meal time and bedtime, so it seemed like I was battling all day with him. Tried everything: time-out (which resulted in more screaming), negotiating (which also did not work, no matter what I offered), taking away literally everything, and the 123Magic method. Nothing worked! He was absolutely determined to have his way (and he would say just that too!) Even called a "child expert", who was also at a loss after working with him for a few weeks. His dad was getting fed-up, but I was still insistent on waiting it out. He finally had had enough and said that if he didn't see some results he was going to handle it himself (aKa- spank his butt!). Well, nothing changed so that's what happened. After a couple more screaming sessions and a couple more spankings from dad, my son decided time-out for 5 minutes was the better option! I can't even remember the last time he had a spanking because the time-out method is all he needs now. I just hate we had to go through so much to get to that point, but I am happy at the results. I really hope my daughter doesn't go through such a difficult time with behavior, I don't know if I could get through that a second time, lol.

[deleted account]

I agree with you Dove. I too am neither pro or anti-spanking, and I was raised "old school" by my grandmother and time-out was unheard of. The "switch" or belt was King when I was out of line, lol (which wasn't often). I just think that there are better ways for children the majority of the time and spanking should be saved for a serious offense. I find with my son that taking away a favorite toy or sending him to time-out will get the point across to him much better than a spanking, and save spanking for serious offenses, which he rarely has. I still haven't found the right method for my daughter, who is soon to be 18 months. I have never seen a little girl as rough as her. She is very head strong and persistent. Redirecting seems to be the best thing so far. If she gets a smack on the hand for getting into something she shouldn't she doesn't even bat an eye and might even laugh at you! She also throws tantrums, something my son didn't do. I just look at her and say "You get up off that floor and stop that right now!" She will get up and put her paci in her mouth and go about her business! It's so funny!

Dove - posted on 02/13/2013

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Discipline is teaching and it starts from birth. The first lesson (imo) for a child to learn is that mom/dad is a source of love and comfort that will ALWAYS be there for them no matter what.

I'm not completely anti-spanking, but I'm not exactly pro-spanking either. It can be very effective in some circumstances and with some children, but is completely unnecessary for the most part. Other methods (many positive discipline ones... though I'm not exactly 'pro' positive discipline either...lol) can be just as effective and even more so in the long term goal of teaching/training our children. In either case I think that spanking an infant is absurd.

Did that answer ANYTHING? ;)

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