Discipline, The Toddler Edition

I’m not an especially strict mom. At one and three, Ozzie and Dash are a little young for that, but I am planning to be big on discipline as they grow up. I don’t expect my kids to be the model of good behavior for all of child-kind, but I would like them to grow up to not be award-winning assholes as adults. Ozzie is still a baby, but he knows the power of his baby face, so when I try to use a stern voice with him he usually just makes a big sweet smile and hugs my leg and toddles off to continue doing what he wants. We work on distracting him from things he shouldn’t play with, but it doesn’t really work to try to discipline him. Dash is past that point, but still has the attention span of a goldfish, so it gets tricky.

In this age of apps and gadgets, of course I tried technology. I have tried a few timeout timers that will countdown the seconds and keep him focused on what is going on. That was a total letdown: that just led to him whining for one more thing, and wanting to turn it on and “play timeout.”

I’m considering stepping it up. When the boys are bouncing off the walls and practically vibrating with the hum of energy whirring through them, sometimes I make a game of wearing them down. “Hey! Can you show me how fast you can run to the end of the hall? Wow, that was fast, but I bet you could go even faster if you were jumping the whole way!” Dash follows almost endless instruction on running back and forth across the house and Ozzie pads along in his wake, nowhere near keeping up, but still laughing and trying.

Sometimes I find myself daydreaming about when they’re old enough for me to get all crazy and perhaps have them scrubbing the toilets with a toothbrush (one specifically for that purpose, not theirs; I’m not that sick) and doing white glove inspections of their rooms whenever they get busted for bad behavior. But in this fantasy I’m also perpetually in a spotless home and a daily cheesecake does nothing bad to my body. I know it’s easy to make these big plans when there’s no way to implement them now.

I’ll admit I’m a little hesitant to use physical activity as a punishment because I don’t want them to hate working out and being active. There must be a way to incorporate this ability to follow instruction in physical activity into an age appropriate discipline method. I was in the army for over a decade, so I’m no stranger to the concept of making someone do push-ups when they screw up; but is a toddler to young to go all “drill sergeant” on them? Unfortunately, I think so. After all, neither of them can even do a single push-up, so those are out.

Do any of you readers have fantastic discipline methods to share? And no, beatings and shock collars don’t count,!


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