Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Parenting Diaries - Rules are good!

Today I start a new series called Parenting Diaries. I have been a parent for all of 3 years, 2 of which has been spent in close contact with my son as a stay at home mom. I read a lot of parenting articles and magazines. But that makes me no expert on parenting. But I do stumble on in this momma world like many of you. And here I share my experiences on parenting. I urge you to tell me what you think about this topic... parents and non parents alike.

(Pict Courtesy: www.mosman.nsw.gov.au)

Topic for today's discussion is Rules.

Consistent Parenting
Setting some ground rules with kids is a must. This helps for what is called as consistent parenting. And no age is too early for rules. But for toddlers rules need to be a bit more flexible. That does not mean the rules cease to exist.

Setting the limits with your toddler.
I have seen parents of 1 and 2 year olds who think their kids are too young to be disciplined. So these kids are not corrected when they refuse to share or push and shove. Especially if the kid they are playing with is older than them! Uh? It is very essential to discipline toddlers and set limits. This is the age they learn to be independent and the need for discipline thereby presents itself! Toddlers are a lot like teenagers that way. They constantly attempt to test the limits. And if you don't act now, you are going to have a very difficult kid on your hands!
Having said all this it is very difficult to discipline a toddler. They are not mature enough to control their impulses or remember all the rules that you lay. Don't push them, but every time gently assert the rule and make sure they follow it. One day they will start following it. (Pict Courtesy: www.htcacademic.mnscu.edu)

Public places
I remember this kid we saw, when we were out for dinner once. The kid was about 3 years old and running around the restaurant and getting under everyone's table. The parents enjoyed an uninterrupted meal. I wanted to walk up and say "This is a public place, where everyone comes to relax.. your kid needs to sit down and behave". This is a ground rule.
Same with movie theaters. Whats with the kids howling and screaming there? Either you hire a baby sitter and leave them at home. Or you leave the theater the minute the tantrum starts. There are 100 people there who have paid to enjoy a movie, and I bet they can use some quiet!

Whats mine is not yours!
Whats with letting your kids touch everything in your house. At a very young age I told my son what was his and what is mine. He was never allowed to play with my mobile phone or operate the remote. This indulgence I think is unnecessary.
A friend allows her kid to operate the I POD and DVD Player. Result, she can no longer control the kid's TV Schedule. When the kid wants TV she switches it on herself! I was discussing this with another friend the other day,,and she told me how a friend of hers has bought his kid a portable DVD Player. A 3 yr old no less plays with the portable player.
And another friend laments that his kids switch on the TV and figure out the password lock so he can't control them.
My mom had a simple answer to this when we were kids. We were latch key kids and would be home all afternoon , while she returned in the evening. My mom would remove the cable wire and hide that. Simple but very effective!

Off limits!
On this note.. do you leave glass bowls and pebbles on side tables? Do you have photo frames on them? What do you do when your child touches them? I have all this paraphernalia. And every time a 3,4,5 yr old comes to my house (forget the younger kids), I am forced to move all this out of sight! Kids need to be taught that everything they see or can reach is not a toy! I understand how this can be difficult for younger kids - under 2 or even 3. Then you move the temptation out of sight. But for 4 and 5 year olds, they should be taught what are off limits.

Sugar overdose!
I once took a box of candy when we went for lunch to a friend's place. The 5 yr old proceeded to open the box and devour the candy all at the same time. The parents did not think to take the box and put it away or tell her that it was not ok to eat so much candy!

Breaking rules
Even we are sometimes tempted to break the rules. So I let it go at times without fuss. And give him some opportunities to unwind. Like wrestling with him within the confines on the bed. Or letting him tear up some old paper with his toy knife (Nantu loves that). Or if the kid is not allowed to jump around at home, give him a place where they can do that. They need time to run around and jump and tumble. Make sure they have the time and place for all that.

Reward good behavior
Last but not the least, make sure you reward good behavior. The reward can be as simple as a word of praise and an applause or a toy. Both work effectively to tell your child that you appreciate the effort it took to be good!

Parenting I have found is not so easy. But it is a lot of fun. Before I go, I would love for all of you to share your take on this topic. I am a new parent too, stumbling along in this unknown world. So please share how you handle each of these issues. I would also like you to tell me if this helped you.. should I go on with parenting diaries??

[Edited to add .. I am really glad to get such wonderful response from all of you. And the arguments each of you is presenting is truly wonderful and serves as an eye opener for me! Helps me get a different perspective.. I am glad I made this post.]

19 comments:

Neera said...

Brilliant idea Preethi for several reasons - one - of course it helps us to see what we are already doing and getting ideas about new things to try out, a major reason all of us are part of this little community here, gyan straight from the horse's mouth :)
Well I really liked all the points especially I am so glad u mentioned breaking rules ..its important to sometimes let go and become kids urself ..its important for kids to like you in order to be motivated to behave well for u and not see u as just an ogre spitting out rules.
Reward good behavior comes on top of my list!
I'll leave u with a very good article on disciplining toddlers that I was reading when I moved on to this post from you. I especially like the way she has pointed out the difference between redirecting and distracting.

http://babyparenting.about.com/od/discipline/tp/toddlerdiscipline.htm?nl=1

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

I agree with early discipline. Works very well.
About the parents of the kid at the restaurant - For almost 2 years when T1 was little we never ate out. We used to take out and eat a quiet dinner at home after she slept, but every now and then we ventured out, and ended up coming back so stressed trying to manage her. On hind sight, I wish I had the courage to just let her be a toddler and enjoy dinner like those parents did!

I agree with the out-of-control TV addiction. T1 is now old enough to stop when I ask her to...we still "need" TV to distract T2, but still under control (I hope)!
Off Limits - I used to be on the other side of the fence...When T1 was little it was a nightmare taking her to homes that were not child-proof. We had to constantly run behind her until she drained us out...I used to wish people were a little more attentive to my woe! Again, some kids learn at 3, some take longer. T1 (a kindergartener), can now read at a 3rd grade level, and I have helped kids in her class who did not know the alphabet...I'm just trying to say eventually they all learn at a different pace.
You mentioned the kid who ate all the candy, my question to you is - don't you think it was a bad idea in the first place to buy candy? You became the good cop, and if the parent stopped the kid from eating, she would have become the bad cop. Your friend probably did not want to offend you by hiding your gift, or create a scene by letting her kid cry, or was simply following your rule of letting go...?
I totally agree with you on the rewards and breaking rules whenever possible.
Not everything is easy to follow. Rules should always be a guildeline IMHO. No two kids are the same. What works for one kid may completely ricochet with another.
I personally feel uncomfortable judging kids or parents. We have no idea of knowing circumstances behind any action...I like to think that all parents (ok, most parents) are trying their best to raise kids.
You've started a very hot topic and I couldn't help hogging so much space...Sorry about that...

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

I agree with most of the points here Preethi. Especially on the restuarant rules ... it irritates me to no limit when the parents are having an uninterrupted meal at the cost of others. What I do is take few crayons and some paper and that will keep Cantaloupe busy in her seat.
And on jumping place ... we live in a duplex house, Cantaloupe clearly knows she can jump on the top floor while ground floor jumping is total NO NO ... we don't want to disturb our neighbors living below our house.

Preethi said...

Neera- Thanks for the article. It was a good read!
GND - About the restaurant thing, don't you feel it was at the expense of all the others? We need to keep in mind other's needs too right?
As for off limits, exactly my point. A 5 yr old comes to my house and touches all these off limit items and the parents don't stop her! To her nothing is off limits
As for the candy, I agree in retrospect I did regret taking the candy there.. but I did not expect this. People bring candy for Nantu all the time, and we put it away and give it to him in proportions!! I agree hat the rules wont work for every kid, but have to be implemented in some for or the other so as to make it work!! Thanks for your comment, the intention of the post was to open out discussion.. so I am glad you took the time to comment
CA - I do the same thing at restaurants too.. and if Nantu sees other kids and starts running he goes on a high chair.. Jumping place, I take Nantu to the playground and let him jump!! :)

Rambler said...

I think you are totally right with "
Whats mine is not yours!" It becomes extremely necessary to make sure children take anything and everything for granted. specially I hate it when TV/mobile are used to distract kids when grown up want to do work of their own, I mean there are a lot many ways of keeping a child engaged.

PG said...

Preethi, this is something I myself have been wanting to do. I would surely read it through when I have more time. Right now I'm busy packing for our trip to India!
Just wanted to let you know of this God Blesss You tag at:
http://rishab2005.blogspot.com/

Thinking aloud said...

preethi, what you've mentioned here are quite relevant points...

totally agree with restaurants and movies...better not go if teh child has notunderstood the concept...

but u know different children behave very differently...the way i dealt with swaraj is totally differnt to te way i deal with Swarn...'co steh younger is more exposed, more social, more quick... it is more difficult to get him to follow...but we try...:)

Swati said...

You should continue without doubt ..for me:)
I agree with most of what you said ..I believe in early discipline strongly but when I am there I realized that it does not work at times with smaller kids , as you said we should be little flexible.

One thing that I disagree is "Yours and Mine" ..I think we should let the kids explore , but we should also let them know the rules , like mobile is for talking and not for throwing.That doesnot means I will buy him a mobile though. Aryan knows how to switch on the TV , but he never watches TV. I let him control the mouse of my PC and also the keyboard but I always correct him if he bangs or throws it. I think we can afford to let them explore at times. Our parents could not , coz electronics were too costly then.I believe keeping things out of reach , only increases their curiousity and there desire to touch ..while letting them handle things and telling them the right way , helps them understand. WHAT DO YOU SAY ??

Movie and restaurant rules ..surely agree ..have not seen a single movie in theater since he is born , coz I know he does not enjoy watching TV (touch wood ..anti jinx) and he will not be able to sit in one place for 3 hours.

Preethi said...

Rambler - I hear you!!
Suma - Yes it is different for every kid and what works for one doesn't work for the other.. then you just find some other means to make it work!
PG - Me too..India trip I mean.. thanks for the blessing
Swati - Yours and mine.. Nantu sometimes turns off the tv too and he can use the mouse as well.. he also talks on the phone to his relatives in India, and I usually hand him the phone to do that.. he is 3 now so he knows there is a purpose. What I am trying to say is there is a time for all this.. Most parents hand over the mobile and remote to 1 yr olds.. just to keep them occupied. I never did. Nantu was taught the difference between momma's phone and his toy phone very early! At 1.5 yrs my uncle once gave him his mobile to play with... and Nantu rattled it and dropped it (not intentionally.. but dropped it nevertheless) and it came apart! Rather not give it to them till they understand the purpose!

Sumana said...

Glad you started something like this was a good read and definitely a topic to discuss. Each one has different parenting styles and as you said each kid is so different. But the base point is the same, they should be guided as to what is right for their age. I let my daughter explore stuff like remote provided i am beside her and she is not supposed to throw. As for movies we have not been to any with her, since she will not sit. Hotels i agree with ya. It gets irritating if a kid is trying to play beneath the table etc.

rayshma said...

u SO rightly captured what i think abt kids. i mean, a lot of ppl think i don't like kids. it's not that. it's just that i DO get irritated when i'm out for dinner and someone else's child decides that it likes me and wants to tug at my clothes or sit on my lap! i mean, excuse me!?! it's not the child that irritates me, it's the parents! i mean, i'd go ballistic if my 2 year old were to tug at strangers' clothes or go destroying things in their house. but i've seen parents who don't say a word to their darlings!!
i've never blogged about any of this... coz it's usually perceived as a different/biased PoV, given that i don't have my own kids yet. but i really think parents need to be responsible for their child's conduct in public.
i think rules MUST be set for children... sure they can be different, depending on the child... and of course, they shud occasionally be broken too :) coz at d end of the day, kids will be kids...

Preethi said...

Sumana - Exactly.. if your kids are not ready don't go to the theater.. rather than make life hell for everyone! I tried once and have not gone back after that.. the one time I went I spent most of the time outside with a bored Nantu :P
Rayshma - I get that too.. before Nantu everyone thought I hated kids.. So imagine their surprise when I had one! I adore kids and their creativity and imagination.. Like you put it , I get very irritated when parents cant control their own kids!! And I have seen so much of this esp in Indian kids that Nantu plays with.. I am so frustrated at times!!

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

I have always been one of the parents who restricts every single thing my kids do, esply in public places. Precisely why we simply gave up eating out for almost 2 years. I just wish I could be less restrictive and let them be! Agree that getting under the table is a bit much...
Of course it's annoying when some parents just stand and watch or even laugh it off when their kids do something outrageous.
Again, I wish I could do that sometimes! I would have been a lot less stressed out when my kids were younger.
And from what I've seen, it's esply difficult to lay the rules down when there is a third or fourth adult in the house. As much as my parents and in-laws try not to intervene, they can't stop themselves when we discipline our kids. Imagine having that happen all the time!
I guess what I'm trying to say is every parent knows about the rules. I'm sure we've all read and are constantly reading parenting books and online articles.
I think what would be more helpful is to identify what helped with a rule and how it worked..(like the one about taking crayons)! I think that's really what parents want to hear...from moms...more than from research experts in the field.

Preethi said...

GND - You make a very good point.. will keep that in mind in my next post.. that is the intention of parenting diaries.. sharing experiences and gaining viewpoints!
As for getting stressed out.. I am the queen of over reaction too.. so much that I can sometimes forget kids will be kids.. but I try to keep it real! The grand parents factor.. I totally agree!!

UTP said...

that movie part reminded me of one of the most embarassing moments of our lives....sigh...we havent watched a movie in cineplex for ages now....I wonder when it would happen....

Visharada said...

Though I am not a parent now, ur points are so valid :)

Aryan said...

I totally agreee to the public space thought. Our kids should not be nuainces to others

Nisha said...

Incidentally, I have done a post on disciplining the brat today. I agree with you that the kids have to be disciplined and rules clearly laid down early in life. But with younger kids, like my baby, distracting works amazingly. I generally let the brat do what he wants as long it doesn't hurt him or anyone of us, physically or emotionally. Of course, if he does something bad, there are always timeouts and removing him from the scene of crime!

Mystic Margarita said...

Great posts, Preethi - I'm in dire need to some help - and your posts are godsent! Will be back to read at length and take notes. Still a bit disoriented from the move. And can I have your email id? I have something I want to ask you. Mail me at mysticmargarita@gmail.com