I don't want to get all "French Mom" on you, but I have a funny story from this weekend. It was pretty cold, which means staying in and having a playdate with the Duchess (almost 3 1/2, for those of you keeping score) and Honey (18 months) with our neighbor and her daughter, "Isabelle," who turns 4 in June. It is nice to have another little girl to play with on our floor in our condo.
My neighbor is a single mother, and Isabelle is a very strong minded child who basically runs the house. That's where I come in. I have spent the past two years putting her in time out and scolding her (as needed), just as I treat my own children. Not only does my neighbor know this, she approves - and uses me as a threat ("If you don't do this, Ms. Rules is going to put you in time out!").
So we're over there Sunday afternoon, and little Honey is sitting so quietly in a corner, "reading," which warmed the cockles of my heart. And where are the Duchess and Isabelle? Why, playing mommy of course. And what are they saying to each other?
Isabelle: You get a time out! (Shuts bedroom door, waits a few seconds then opens it.) Okay, you're out of time out. Why did you get a time out?
Duchess: (Laughing) Because I hit my sister.
Isabelle: Are you supposed to hit your sister?
Isabelle: You lose a privilege.
And then they would go through the whole thing again with the other kid. It was hysterical hearing my words repeated like that.
My neighbor pointed out that she really liked the privilege thing, which is something I came up with a while ago when I noticed how much the Duchess valued choosing even the smallest things, like her pajamas before bed or a piece of paper on which to color.
I designated certain things "privileges" and threaten to take them away if she is being naughty. I know it sounds crazy, but it actually works, and the Duchess gets upset when she loses her privileges. (I also try not to laugh at the cute way she says "privilege.") My neighbor is starting to designate privileges with Isabelle, which has actually been sort of helpful for her.
I mention this because even though I read several parenting books* that I liked, I felt like I needed a little extra step that was customized to my kid. And I put it out here because if it worked on Isabelle, I bet it would work on almost any kid!
*Parenting books that I liked: Magic 1-2-3 for explaining time outs, Negotiation Generation for helping me understand how to frame limits for kids while letting them feel like they have some control, and Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, which is the most crunchy hippie book that I have ever read, yet which was super helpful in explaining many things, including discipline.