Squawking + Discipline 101

I am putting aside my incomplete [Real Food Friday] post to ask for some help or insight…so much for consistency.

Confession:  I haven’t read a lot of parenting books.  I read books about babies and plenty of books about Real Food.  I was around babies a lot growing up and nannied so much that I’m comfortable with many stages of childhood and reinforcing other parents’ discipline decisions.  But I’m increasingly aware that this stage of my kid’s childhood intimidates me.   As H’s parents, we are in charge of the initial response to unwanted behavior and discipline in general.   And there are so many theories and books out there…where does one begin?  A few books have been recommended but life has been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.  But the time has come.

H is 14 months old and generally a very happy child.  As long as you let him sleep and keep him fed, he’s a total lover.  But he has mastered this SQUAWK.  At first it was cute (“Awww…you’re experimenting with sound”!) but, after a few days, we began twitching every time it happened.  We tried ignoring it, we tried shaking our heads with serious faces (he just laughs at our alleged serious faces…oh dear).    But the squawk has reinforced that we have no idea what we’re doing.  Not that any parent does, not that any lone theory applies to every child, but we need help.  Yes, the squawking is likely a stage and he’ll grow out of it if we don’t feed it (right?) but it highlights that we need to start deciding how we’re going to approach discipline.   It’s a personal choice for every couple and we will ultimately decide where we fall in the chart of options.  I guess we’re looking for a few good starting places.


Too soon? Too soon.

Any tips or reading recommendations?  Insights? Any specific to squawking are welcome with open arms!


5 thoughts on “Squawking + Discipline 101

  1. I’ve found Gordon Neufeld (Vancouver guy, Developmental Psychologist) to be a good resource (he’s a Christian too, but works mainly in secular settings, so you won’t hear him talk about faith and parenting – that’s not his thing anyway)… http://neufeldinstitute.com

  2. Yes, Gordon Neufeld! Absolutely. I second and third that. He emphasizes working on lifelong connection over discipline tricks, punishment/reward, or other methods that ultimately don’t work. And I do believe he’s working with parenting a child towards an awareness of the love of God as parent, though he never says this explicitly. His book, Hold On to Your Kids, is great, and he has lots of downloadable audio seminars for different issues (they cost $, but they’re good, though I have to say I like his other trained presenters better than him when it comes to audio presentation). We’ve been raising C in the Neufeld ideology, and I have to say we’ve had many fewer problems with connection and discipline than other families with kids her age (and we feel more empowered, too). I think this is partly her personality, but I do think Neufeld’s concepts have a lot to do with it. As for the squawking… he will outgrow it. He’s playing with your reaction, his own impact on the world, etc. In a couple of months you’ll likely forget he ever squawked at all. I was just watching a video of us with C when she was about that old and I was feeling a similar anxiety about discipline. In it, she kept crawling toward the laundry soap and I kept saying “no, no, no! That’s not okay. You know that.” I look at that video now and think – she didn’t know that! She was so little! She was absolutely not being naughty, she was just exploring her world with the impulsiveness that a toddler can’t help. Best thing to do in those situations, I’m learning, is to remove the object of temptation or distract. Don’t make a deal of the behaviour, just distract. Then someday toddlerhood will change or end and you can move on to other stages of discipline methods. But Neufeld. Yes.

  3. Okay, I know I wrote a tome before, but then I remembered this blog Joyful Toddlers, which offers quick, wonderful, gentle strategies for real problems parents face with toddlers (parents write in their questions). It’s been incredibly helpful and practical (and quicker than reading a whole book!). http://joyfultoddlers.com/

  4. And (I’m so sorry) I feel like i brushed over the truly frustrating experience you’re having with the squawking and your own sense of authority, which is hard and a good thing to think about (I do, often :)). At that age, kids aren’t being defiant or truly naughty, their just aware that they are getting a reaction out of you, and that’s exciting. At the same time, they do need to begin to understand that what you say goes, and that there are boundaries. So you can distract, and you can also demonstrate a better way to communicate (I guess something like… “H, I don’t like when you make that noise. It hurts my ears! Please try to say -easy and equivalent substitution- instead” And don’t ask him – tell him). But what I’m learning is that for a toddler, learning boundaries and learning parental authority is a long (long) process, and there will be lots of stumbles and reminders needed along the way. So you can be firm, but gentle and understanding. Okay, I’m done. Truly.

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