Discipline: it sounds so simple when talking about it in theory but in actuality it is anything but simple. A and I want to be good disciplinarians so we can teach the monkey respect for others and healthy boundaries. Before the monkey was born we would talk about discipline and it seemed pretty straight forward: set good boundaries, evaluate the reason behind the rule before establishing it, and communicate constantly about it as parents. Simple.
In fact, up to this point it hasn't been that hard. Most of our discipline has had to do with things that were dangerous for the monkey or keeping her out of things we don't want her to ruin. She learned to listen to no early and is generally a good baby so it hasn't been a huge problem. However, now that she is older and we are trying to teach her more responsibility, things are getting a bit more challenging.
For one thing, the monkey has quiet a bit of a stubborn streak (sadly she got that from her mother). She knows what she wants and what she doesn't and sticks to it. For another thing the monkey isn't really talking yet. For me it makes it hard to know how much of what we are trying to teach her she actually understands.
This week we have had some major battles with her over picking up her toys. The monkey has never been great at picking up, she has no problem pulling out every single one of her toys in a given day, but picking up isn't her thing. We have been working at it with her along the way and over the last few months we have gotten a lot more consistent with it. Well, this week she decided she wanted nothing to do with it. So, we started time outs.
We put her in the chair in her room for a minute, ask her if she is ready to go pick up, when she says yes we take her back out to her toys and ask her to pick up again. Should be simple, put her in time out and then she will pick up. Not so much. We went through this cycle for a hour the first night. Time out, take her back to her toys to pick up, she refuses, we put her back in time out. The poor baby wore herself out crying and I felt so bad. At many points I think we were both tempted to give in and just put her to bed, but in the end she did pick up her toys and I cuddled her as she fell asleep.
My take away? Discipline is hard. There are no easy answers and it likely looks different for every child. But consistency and follow through are important. The next night we had another round of the picking up the toys battle but it was much shorter, only about 15 minutes, and every night since she has picked up her toys without problem. I don't by any means think we are done with this particular battle, but it makes me feel better about not giving up.
The thing is, discipline is hard, and it is easy to want to give up. But I also know we are working to raise the monkey to be the woman that God has called her to be and consistent discipline is part of that process. I know it won't be easy, and I am sure we will make mistakes along the way. But I also know that the reward in the end will be worth the work we put into it.