The Zen of Discipline
by Daniella Rabbani, Honest motherhood contributor
Ok so... we’re in a big “NOOOOOOO!” um... I guess you could call it a "phase". It’s accompanied by a lot of “that’s mine!!!,” sometimes shoving and tears on all sides. Ness is two and it’s winter so he’s like always either sick, getting over a cold or coming down with something. And let’s be honest that bundling up sucks for everyone.
When it comes to discipline, I’m on team “self-motivation” which sorta bipasses bribes, time out's or tricks. It’s the long route for sure but it feels a lot better to me than using all my many words, brute force, or sheer power over Ness to get him to do what I want.
Here’s what keeps me anchored in this winding road of boundaries:
- I wanna like my kid and myself throughout this parenting process. When I’m mean or nit-picky I feel gross. So I maintain a “yea sure let’s try it” attitude until we’ve reached a hard line...like hitting.
- I’m invested in raising a kid who likes himself for many reasons, but mostly because people who are kind to themselves are generally kind all around. The idea of commenting on every wrong move Ness makes sounds exhausting because then I’d never shut up and also what is the subtext? “Your judgment can't be trusted, wee one. I got this!” And let’s be clear, I don’t got this. Hi! I’m human too!
- I try to remind myself that just because he’s angry, frustrated, or sad doesn’t mean he’s giving ME a hard time. Yea it’s annoying. But he’s just having a big feeling about wanting to smear ketchup all over grandma’s nice table cloth. I get that. He can have feelings and I can have boundaries and we’ll actually be all the better for it in the end.
- Sometimes I just don’t care enough. Like when Ness stands on his chair during mealtime. Often out at a restaurant. I used to get really triggered by this. Embarrassed. WHAT WILL THEY ALL THINK?! But really, unless he’s climbing on the table, he’s safe and just kinda asking for attention, good or bad. So I’ve let it go. I don’t get into squabbles with a two-year-old. Nope. He’s not hurting himself or anyone else, so I don’t give him that hit of dopamine: “NESS! Get down! No!”. And I’m sensing that the act of standing in his high chair is less enticing when he doesn't have that response from me.
- Mostly, I know that when I’m frazzled, nothing my toddler does is “right”. When I’m feeling at home in my skin, I can see where he’s coming from and honor that he may need to let out some energy. I don’t take it so personally. I can save myself the energy of schooling him and the money for therapy, too. Win win.
What’s your take on discipline these days?
Daniella Rabbani is a Brooklyn based actress and the honest motherhood contributor to the MU community. Her full time gig is mama to Ness. Read another honest piece from her right here.