Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Year Of: Learning Boundaries

Brees Elizabeth will be 2 years old on November 15.  I know that every mother says this, 
but I really can't believe how quickly the time has passed.  As I reflect on this last year 
and all the adventures and milestones we have experienced, I hope that you enjoy this 
series of posts about our family and all the things we have learned this past year.

Throughout her second year, Brees explored the world around her and the boundaries we
so carefully placed in front of her.  She pushed her limits and her parents, learned the fine
art of temper tantrums, and became a master at batting her eyelashes and attempting
to make everything right with a kiss.  Recently, her new favorite word became "NO!"
and she proudly used it when anyone tried to deter her from whatever mission she
was engrossed in.  Shawn and I both knew that it was time to start the discipline process,
as difficult as it might be.  We knew that we had to be on the same page and that the
family would have to work together to keep our home a happy, healthy environment
for everyone.
We believe that discipline is as important an expression of love as physical affection
and praise.  We believe that discipline should be carried out with patience and should
always be followed up with love and encouragement. Children need to learn boundaries,
they need to understand that every action comes with a consequence, whether positive
or negative.  By making the right choices and getting showered in positive praise,
they eventually begin to seek out such outcomes rather than attempting to get
negative attention.
We use the same system with both of our girls, we simply adjust it to accommodate their
age and cognitive level.  We use the time-out routine made popular by "Supernanny",
Jo Frost.  We also refer to Dr. Sears and his recommendations for the time-out
process.  Simply put, the girls get one warning.  If they chose to continue their
naughty behavior, we put them on the designated time-out stool.  We get down to their
eye level and tell them why they are in time-out: "Brees, you are in time-out for hitting
your sister". The girls sit in time-out according to their age which means Brees stays put
for 2 minutes.  If she gets up, which she almost always does, we take her by the hand
and put her back on the stool, no conversation, no negotiating.  We do this as many times
as it takes to get her to sit in time-out for 2 minutes.  This can be exhausting,
frustrating, and hopeless at times as toddlers are relentless.  But we try our best to
be consistent and let her know that no matter how many times she gets up, the outcome
will be the same.  It typically only takes 1 or 2 trips back to the stool before she sits
still.  After her 2 minutes are up, we get down to her level again, explain to her why she
was put there, and then give her lots of hugs and kisses.  She's off and running in no
time, settled and ready for her next adventure.
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Sometimes, we put ourselves in time out.  There are days when I get home from work and
I am tired and stressed and my patience is nonexistent.  It's important for me to
recognize that and to know when I need a few minutes alone to regroup and take on the
task of being a loving, nurturing mother.  It may just take a few minutes of hiding in
my closet, a few deep breathes and a whispered prayer, and then I head back out to do
my best.  Knowing my own limits and asking for a few moments when I need them
are essential for me to be my best for my girls.
The most important element to the success of our discipline routine is making sure
that Shawn and I are on the same page.  We have to encourage each other and
remember why we are setting these rules.  This family is a team and we all work together
to reach the same goal: a happy, peaceful household.  It is sometimes very difficult to
follow through, especially when Brees looks up at us with her big brown eyes.  But we
are setting the stage now for a healthy, productive future for her.  We are teaching her,
as best we can, to always try to do the right thing.  And, more importantly, to know
that even when she doesn't get it right, her family is still right there waiting for her,
arms opened wide.

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Hannah Brinkmann said...

she is sooo cute!

Randalin said...

Is it just me, or is there something ridiculously cute about little people sitting in time out?? Too bad the tantrums aren't as cute. I love your philosophy and agree that the consistency and being on the same page are really important. I also love that you put yourself in time out. I do the same. Usually with a glass of wine....

Sara said...

You are such good parents and set such a wonderful example for your kids. I like that you even mention time outs for yourself so you can go back in with a level head, I think that's so important and can be crucial at times when caring for children...or even other adults for that matter. :)

Joanna said...

Ahh! Lola will be 2 on the 16th! Happy birthday to Brees! And man, do I know how hard it is to get your little to sit in time out. Lola will get up at least 10 times, lol. You're right, though, you have to stay consistent with it.

Kelley said...

Love this post, Liv. Love the update. Love the pictures. Love that Shawn is in them. Lots of love.

marie said...

Just stopping by to wish Brees a LOVELY BIRTHDAY!!! Have a great day all together. Much love and a bunch of kisses for your little ones!

Jessica said...

You guys are such a great family. :)
We've started doing timeouts with Jude too. I feel so much confident this time around than I did with Jonathan. Two doesn't scare me though. It's 3 that's nerve-wracking. lol

Olivia said...

With Isabelle, I remember thinking: Why do they call it "the terrible 2s? It should be the terrible 3s!!!!!" That's when the sass comes in!

Olivia said...

Thank you love!!

Olivia said...

Thank you!!! I love that he's in them, too and especially that they capture him in such a sweet daddy moment.

Olivia said...

Happy birthday Lola!!!! Hope she had a wonderful day!!!

Olivia said...

So true!!! It can be so difficult to stay calm and not throw a temper tantrum ourselves!

Olivia said...

So cute!! LOL! I love the way her little feet dangle from the stool!

Olivia said...

Thank you:)