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Monday, July 4, 2011

Can Discipline Go Overboard?

We all know that disciplining children is a touchy subject among parents.  Everyone thinks that their way is the best way.  We've all read books, blogs, and websites from different "experts" on the topic of parenthood and young children.

Today, I had the pleasure of stumbling across two different blogs (here, and here) discussing different sides on this subject.  The differing views between the two sparked something in me that I just needed to share.

They are both fairly short posts, and both very worth the read.  They bring up some great topics.

Upon my initial reading of the post "Are You Damaging Your Kid's Self-Esteem?", I was appalled.  What right does she have to tell me I'm pimping out my child when I ask for a hug or a kiss?  I feel like my daughter is a very affectionate child, and that I've helped her become that way.  This point is just hard to swallow.  I grew up giving my relatives hugs and kisses (on the mouth, too!) and I in no way feel that this has caused emotional damage.  I did not grow up to believe that the only way I can earn affection is by handing out kisses, or worse.  At what point would I be considered "pimping" my child? Is it when I ask her to show Nanna how she has learned all the words to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," including all of the signs? Or is it only considered pimping if I push the issue after she says "no"?

The author then goes on to discuss our "know it all" attitude as parents.  To an extent, I do agree with what she has written here.  She gives the example of telling your child to put a sweater on when it's cold.  "Let your kid get cold. Let him know where a sweater is just in case," is her advice.  Why should I insist that my daughter wear a sweater when she is telling me she isn't cold? I have found I am much more successful when I just suggest she wear a sweater.  If she refuses, then she can go outside and see how cold she is and make the decision herself.  To me, this proves two points. 

1) I believe she is an individual capable of making her own decisions-to an extent.  She is only 2 years old. and
2) Maybe sometimes mamma knows best.  Next time I suggest a sweater, she may believe me when I say it's cold, and grab her sweater.

Where do I draw that line, though? If my potty trained 2 year old says she doesn't need to go potty before nap, do I just let her go straight to bed knowing she'll be up in 5 minutes asking to pee? Or do I insist she at least try before nap time so she can go to sleep easier.

What about at bed time when she tells me she's not tired after spending the last 30 minutes rubbing her eyes and yawning? Do I really just let her stay up because she insists?

Can I tell her to say "please" and "thank you," or is that asking her to perform on command again?

I fear that if we take this school of thought too far-the school of thought that telling your child to do something ruins their self esteem and ability to listen to their bodily cues- that we may end up with an even worse situation than the one we are already in.  How many day time talk shows do we have to see with the title "I'm scared of my 3 year old," to learn that it's okay to offer guidance and discipline to your young child? The point is, everything in moderation.  It's a good rule to learn in life. I personally have found the best approach to be the power of suggestion, versus insisting she do it my way.

I would love some other opinions on this subject.  Do you find today's parents to be too pushy with their children?


  1. Angie, I think we are both very much on the same page with this. I liked the Babble author's point of view--to a point. Like we have both said in our blogs, it is all in moderation. And using our parental judgment. I like your idea on the power of suggestion. (btw--are people really scared of their 3-year olds? I guess I will find out in a year and a half when I'm around parents with tots that age. Dear lord!). It all does seem a little ridiculous, and I think 99% of the time our mom instincts are right. We need to go with our gut. Thanks for reading my blog! Jill Cordes

  2. Thanks for the comment, Jill!

    I would not worry too much about having a 3 year old. I don't know anyone personally that is scared of theirs, but I've certainly seen those episodes advertised on day time talk shows!