Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mama Question - Effective Correction

I have a question for all you mamas of toddlers out there:

How do you refrain from raising your voice at your children?

I'm really struggling with this lately...Shiphrah is entering the "Terrible Twos" and since I also have 7-month-old Kirk to keep up with, staying on top of what Shiph is doing is no easy task. She likes to get into anything and everything, especially when I'm otherwise occupied, and she never responds to a command to stop. In fact, it seems like the only thing that does get her attention is speaking harshly to her or raising my voice (i.e. yelling). However, I never ever wanted to be the type of mom who yelled at her kids and so I'm trying my darndest to stop. Which brings me to the topic at hand again: what is an effective way to correct a toddler's behavior? She doesn't respond well to spankings (we have to spank hard enough to leave a mark if we want a response...she is VERY stubborn) and like I said before, she ignores me unless I raise my voice. Taking things away doesn't seem to bother her either...I can't tell you how many times I have taken away her coloring book and crayons after she drew on the table for the hundredth time. I haven't tried "timeouts" yet because I was worried about her being too young. If I try this, what are the logistics of a timeout at this age? I've heard the "1 minute per year of life" rule, but how do you make them stay in one place? I've heard of using the child's crib, but I worry she would start to associate nap time with a punishment.

Mamas, what do you suggest?

(Prayer for this would be appreciated also...I struggle with losing my temper too easily so I am all too quick to raise my voice when Shiph does something to frustrate me. I'm working on pausing and counting to three before I respond but old habits die hard.)


  1. First of all, pray pray and pray more. Each precious baby is a different personality and I don't think that there's ever a standard answer that is a fix-all. I think that's why God makes it that way, so that we are encouraged to draw closer to him. Ask God to show you the heart of Shiph's problems and bring specific corrective ideas to you. Don't lose heart! It's hard but so worth it.

    Are you a reader? Try reading "Don't make me count to three" by Ginger Plowman and another book called "The Heart of Anger" by Lou Priolo. It's really amazing about confronting the heart issues. These books have both been revolutionary in my parenting.

    As for time-outs, we've just realized that they have to be long enough for them to be annoyed by the punishment. My 2 year old doesn't care about being in time out for two minutes. (As supernanny suggests) So, we put him in time out for 10 minutes. If they get out, put them in a carseat or a booster that you can strap them into. She's old enough to be disciplined if she's old enough to purposely disobey. Keep up the good work mommy, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!

  2. As a mom of teens and a newborn, I'm not much help. I just wanted to encourage you to keep searching for answers. You are a great mom! I will say that when our teens get really loud we do have to raise our voice to get their attention but we drop it as soon as possible. To make them be quieter, we will raise it to get quick attention, then drop it really low so they have to be quiet to hear us.

  3. Remember when you are about to lose your temper that Mommies sometimes need a timeout. I have found that to be pretty effective. Try telling her, 'Mommy is upset by your behavior and I need a timeout so that I'm not mean to you' and then leave the room for a minute to calm down. She is old enough to empathize a little and will see that you are upset. Kids don't like to upset mom! Not only will this get her attention, it will also give you a minute to calm down. This also works well when she is throwing a temper tantrum. Without an audience, its not as effective so she will quit much faster.
    As far as timeouts go, my kids still won't stay for long (maybe 2 minutes). We usually reserve timeouts for when they are fighting and need to calm down.

  4. Well I'm going to tell you like it is, I have yell and regretted it. There have been days that I wanted to lock myself in my room and go on strike but as my 12yr.old stated they would all starve! I know how frustrating it can be when you tell your child no and they still do it anyways. I am a work in progress and I continue to pray that God will give me wisdom on how to discipline my children. I do know that when I tell Travis no and he does not listen I go to him, turn him to face me and make sure he is looking directly at me. I then tell him no and the reason why I am telling him no. If he continues to disobey, then he gets one spanking. I tell him why I spanked him and that I want him to obey me because God gave him to me and It is my responsibility to take care of him and teach him right from wrong. I then remind that I love him. Be consistent but just to let you know there is never a full proof way of disciplining your child. We are moms and we are all different just as our children are so take what we say with a grain of salt and continue to keep God in your family.

  5. Does she act that way with your husband? Who is the more firm disciplinarian? In order for me to really get Hannah's attention, I have to raise my voice sometimes, but usually Aaron does not. She's got a healthy fear of her daddy because she knows he doesn't let her get away with things I sometimes will for the sake of my sanity.

    I also found when I spank Hannah a lot of the time she thinks I'm playing. I'm so scared I'm going to hurt her... but it doesn't and that's why she knows she can get away with it. But I feel bad spanking harder, even though that works. She needs to know she is not in control. She is not running the show. But if ever you feel like your really loosing your temper sometimes we just need to take a break and reassess things. Is this really working? I have to do that all the time.

    Hannah is doing good with timeouts right now. I think our babysitter probably uses that with her so she knows what timeout means and she starts pouting when we tell her she needs to sit in timeout. Surprisingly, she will stay in the chair too. Thank you, babysitter.

    Pray for guidance. I think it's normal for us to feel completely lost at this... and it's meant to make us drawer nearer to God like one of the above commentors said. I'm there with you!

  6. Oy... it's never fun, but keep plugging away. I echo what yarnabees said about making sure you have their full attention. With Reagan, I used to often take his face fully in my hands and make him look at my while I spoke to him, otherwise he'd be too distracted or just ignore me.

    Also, I know you've said that spanking doesn't work, but it really has in my house. My son is very much "boy" and is on the strong willed side, too and I think that spanking, when done consistently is effective, at least in our house. And I don't think you have to beat them to get your point across, but sometimes a firm swat on the bottom is enough to help get their attention so they can listen to you.

    We only use time outs when they need to calm down from being too hyper, we personally don't use time outs for disobedience.

    And as for yelling, even the best mom in the world yells sometimes. My mom is rather soft spoken, but I still remember her raising her voice every once in awhile and in someways I don't think that's always bad. It's ok for kids to have a healthy sense of authority, not that I want my home to be a yelling home, I'm with ya. I'm just encouraging you to not beat yourself up about it if it happens sometimes... we're all growing :)

    You're a good mom and God will give you wisdom! He gave you the exact kids that you have because he knew you would be the best parent for them!

  7. I'm just getting to this point with Lydia. I just started reading, "To Train Up A Child" By Michael and Debi Pearl. I know I will find issue with a lot of their stuff, but we had it on a shelf. I'll have to "take the meat from the bones" and hopefully find some stuff I can use.