Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bad Cop

After music class today, I was called the "bad cop" by another mom. She didn't mean it in a bad way. You see, we'd been talking about temper tantrums. We've had a little preview here and there...but I wouldn't say we've dealt with any true tantrums.
Then again, when they start up, I walk away/look away/ignore the behavior. I've been know to say "go on with your bad self".
The other moms looked at me in disbelief. "And it works?" " far."
I am a pretty strict disciplinarian. I do believe that at this age they need to know boundaries and they ARE out to test those boundaries, no doubt. I am here to set the boundaries and make sure that I follow through with what I say.

One thing that is working very well with me is 1-2-3. I don't know if this is the traditional 1-2-3, but it's what I do. I tell the boys in advance what is expected of them and I let them know that I'll only count to 3 and that's the end of the story.

I'll give you an example of the first time I used this:
We started toothbrushing time with real toothbrushes. It was a HUGE fight to get them to give the toothbrushes back afterwards. They just wanted to play and many tears and much screaming ensued. One night, I thought, "I'm going to tell them that when it's time to give the toothbrushes back, I'm going to count to 3 and then they have to give them to mommy."
Effing Magic, I tell you. It was brilliant. We do it every night and there's never been a single protest.

Another example: There's no standing in the bathtub. None. You don't sit down and you're out of the tub. We started counting in the tub, but it wasn't working. Then, one night I decided to tell them right before we got in the tub what was expected of them and that I would count to 3 if they were standing up and if they didn't sit down, they had to get out.
Magic Stuff--for the most part. Doesn't always work, but it has made it 98% better.

If you start throwing food off your highchair tray, I take that tray away and tell you we don't throw food. You bonk your brother in the head with a toy I take the toy away and tell you why.
No, you cannot touch my computer/iPhone/stereo/etc. Those are mommy's. Period. I try to have those things put away when I'm with them, but it's hard and not always possible and I do want them to know they are not 'toys'.
In short, I don't put up with much bullshit and try to run a pretty tight ship. Chicken is a little more lenient than I suppose she could be the 'good cop', but we are both on the same page when it comes to discipline.
I don't think I'm a bad cop, I just think now is the time to set standards.

Are you a bad cop or a good cop? Do you think I'm too strict?


K J and the kids said...

I think I was the exact same way with my first. :)
I think that I've relaxed A LOT since then (experience) and I've learned that I wish I would have been more relaxed with Syd.
I think we forget that a lot of it is just normal growth and we can't expect little people to always understand the consequences...even if they seem to thus far. And sometimes being so "consistent" is only hard on us and well then on them.
It goes back to the saying, "You can't put a big head on little shoulders" We can't expect little people to understand and know all that we hope to fit in their little heads in each lesson we try to teach.
Just like learning to walk, talk, ride a bike. It's all about practice. We can make it a positive experience for them. or it can be strict and rigid. Or like most of us we can find a nice balance with personalities :)

I think you need to do whatever works for you and your family !

shroomie said...

I think you are a mom of twins, and that you are always having to figure this stuff out first. When you have two, you have to be a little more regimented, and a little more on top of your game. With all of my friends that have kids the same age I always hear - "mom's with twins are always so much more organized!"

They challenge is not to be worn down- mine are now three, and they are still testing (as they should) but it does get tiring. With time you will find the areas that you can be a little more lax with.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

you're my hero :)

I am also a strict disciplinarian - I want well-behaved kids and we get good feedback about ours all the time.

I think i need to read up on this 123 magic as another blogger also loves it.

N said...

I'm more of a bad cop than J, but not as strict as you. ;-) But then, I think you do have to be more firm with twins, because they have partners in crime - and somebody else to hurt.

We haven't had to deal much with tantrums yet, but she does hit/flail/kick. Ignoring it doesn't help, alas, I've tried that. It might work if I ignored AND walked away, but it's usually a situation where I can't (of course, it's often WHY she's frustrated, and therefore starts hitting/whatever - i.e. we're changing diaper/clothes, or I'm sitting on the floor with the small baby twins I watch).

We are (almost) Zero Tolerance with the tub (she stands, she gets told she needs to sit in the tub to be safe, if she doesn't, bath is over). But she still stands... I think there's just something about the tub. Heh.

Anonymous said...

BLEW MY MIND... I totally love this! I am just the same way with my kiddo (she's 2)..she knows her bounderies and she's well behaved and it just makes it easier for me period. (especially because her sister is due in a few weeks) it's reassuring to know that I won't have to struggle more than I have to ;))

AdventuresInBabyMaking said...

I think our kiddos will have two bad cop mommies. Don't get me wrong: we get comments almost daily about how laid back we are as moms, and that must be why the kids are so chill (seriously, we hear it constantly). And I think it's true that we're laid back. But neither of us can take disrespect or diva-like behavior in kids, and we will nip that sh!t in the bud with the stinkers. I hear ya, momma!

giggleblue said...

i want to read that 123 magic book.

i think we are more loose with GP. she does spend time in time out for things like hitting, but as far as electronics are concerned, she knows which ones are hers and which ones are ours, although, we do share the ipad with her pretty fully, because it has some great parenting games.

i agree, with multiples you have to run a tighter ship to keep things in order.

do what works!

Jody said...

Love it. I believe in great boundaries and I think it helps kids in the long run. When I tell little j that I'm going to count he gets a big smile and says, "mama count!!". He just loves the counting and I'm not sure it always helps his behaviors. Lol

Jen said...

I am definitely very strict and so far we have a 15 month old that listens pretty well. I tell him to sit down before brushing his teeth or he cannot brush, and he does. I count to three as well and we do timeout. Overall , I too run a tight ship although he is allowed to play with my iPhone (he has his apps and can turn in the phone and slide it to the apps- which is amazing. I think discipline is great and too many parents are afraid of it.

Anonymous said...

I applaud you! You are raising responsible and accountable citizens of the world. It is important to have boundaries and expectations in place and also consistency with the follow through. We function in a society with several boundaries and expectations. In order to be successful we need to be able to function within these constraints.
I am a montessori teacher, children in my classroom are ages 3-6. I observe children are most successful in environments with clearly defined expectations and consistency.
Thank you for starting a thought provoking dialogue!

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think you're too strict. Setting boundaries is so important. We are probably a little more lenient here, but we are working on firm boundaries and consistency. We tend to have these boundaries that are meant to keep our boy safe and keep us/cats/our stuff safe, and within that, we have wiggle room. We have room to let go of the little things if we think he's hearing "No" a few too many times in a day.

We need to start using 1-2-3 though. I've used it with our cats; why didn't I remember to use it with a child who might actualy understand?

Strawberry said...

I am a bad cop and proud of it! Trying to make Nutella more of one, too ;) We do warnings and time-outs with consistency and it's been working well overall. I was really happy to read your post and some of the other comments, too :) I've seen too many parents who seem afraid to discipline their children and let them run amok to everyone's dismay.

Anonymous said...

I am 100% with you on this and far more strict than Cat is. My kids are still too young but I plan to have a zero tolerance policy for many similar things.

One major issue we are having right now is with our nanny and her child. Discipline is not her strength and as a result our house has been turned upside down. She does not est boundries for her son very well and does not follow through with the ones she does set. Its a huge problem for me, really making me quite angry actually, but I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do about it.

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one with these kind of expectations. I was starting to think I must be some kind of Nazi or something.

Bridgwest said...

Sounds like you're doing fine to me. Have boundaries and defend them always = trouble averted. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

With our oldest son I always gave him fair warning and was definitely more of the bad cop - or at least the enforcer - possibly because I was the one that was home more. Too early to tell how it will be with these two but I imagine it will be much of the same if I intend to maintain any control (i think i hear the wigglers laughing already).

Meredith said...

My kidlet is only 8.5 months old and I'm already bad cop. I come from a long southern tradition of it and honestly, on so many levels, I think strong, firm boundaries give kids both good behavior and strong imaginations. You go girl! I'm taking notes. Setting expectations with each activity makes so much sense.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I totally agree with your priniciples. I have tried so many different approaches to discipline, and have found that my kids function better with strict boundaries and clear instructions, and punishment that fits the crime (i.e. if you throw the blocks, the blocks will be put away). And if you want to have a tantrum or stomp out of the room, crack on. But I dont pander to that. They rarely tantrum now, and usually try to talk to me about whats bothering them, and I have all the time in the world for that behaviour.

P.S. I know the blogosphere is a haven for the crunchier parents among us, but I know many mums IRL who are much much stricter. So just remember there is a whole other side to this spectrum...

shindagrl said...

1-2-3 Magic saved my sanity and restored order to our home. The key is consistency for us, and now that they're older, appropriate consequences. They are either given a time out (wherever we may be) with minutes equivalent to their age, or I dock them minutes from bedtime lie-down-with-mom, which is a very pleasant time for all of us.

I think I have much better results then their dad does, who does a lot of lecturing, stand-in-the-corner, and spanking.

Pomegranate said...

Call it bad cop if you want, but I'm marking this post to share with my partner. Sounds brilliant to me.