September 13, 2011

making your kid burst into tears sucks ass

Discipline. It’s a word that doesn’t really come to mind when I think about my Lovie. In fact, it never comes to mind.

Until the other day when she looked me dead in the eye, took her little plate of chicken, and tossed it over the edge of her tray for the floor to eat. Apparently.

Normally when she starts tossing food, mealtime is over. PERIOD. But she’s getting to be a big girl and she generally will say, “All done!” and start handing me whatever’s left on her tray because she knows I’m not a fan of throwing food and drink onto the floor. So tossing food hasn’t really been an issue for many months.

Until recently.

Something’s going on with her lately and she’s starting to test me more; it’s like she knows I’ve been feeling like ass, too, and therefore could get away with more.

Good thing I’ve gone into this knowing that it’s part of her job as a kid to test me.  :)

Anyway, the other day her dad made her some chicken nuggets. She pushed them away (but kept them on her tray). I covered them in ketchup, cut them up smaller, and tried giving again. She looked more closely at the red temptation and was going to pick up a piece of chicken. I turned my back to get a spork for her and when I turned around, she said, “No!” and took the plate and threw it onto the floor very deliberately.

I said nothing but quickly removed the tray, unbuckled her from the high chair, and sat her on the ground. And then I said very sternly, “No. We do not throw food on the floor.”

She sat there, looked at me stunned, and bursted into tears.

But she sat there and didn’t try to get up and run away. She just sat and cried.

I counted to thirty, took in a deep breath, got down to her level, put my hands on her legs and said, “I love you, honey, but it’s not good to throw food on the floor. Please pick the chicken up and put it in the bowl now.”

She looked at me and … picked each piece of chicken up off the floor and put it into the bowl.

Every single piece.

No hesitation. No crying.

“Thank you,” I said as I took the bowl from her and threw the chicken in the garbage.

I picked her up, wiped her face, and gave her hugs and kisses and dinner was over.

I love that girl more than anything and it does not feel great to be stern with her like that but I’ll be damned if she throws food on the floor like that! She’s 20 months old. She’s talking and communicating with us all day long. There’s no excuse for it anymore.

I remember once when I was living with my brother right after his ex-wife left him and the kids. My nephew was 4 at the time and quite the handful. They avoided taking him anywhere in public because he just … was a handful.  I don’t recall exactly what happened, but he did something that was not acceptable to me and I immediately picked him up and put him in his room and told him he needed to sit there for a few minutes because of whatever he did not being acceptable.

He screamed and cried and kicked. He came out of his room practically laughing.

Not sure if he thought I was his mother but that shit just didn’t fly with me and steamed me even more. I picked him up and returned him to his room and told him, again, why I was doing what I was doing.

Repeat the screaming, crying, kicking, coming out of his room.

This went round and round for probably an hour (sure felt like it, at least). And very quickly I stopped talking and wouldn’t even look at his face; I just would pick him up and place him in the room and did so until he laid so that his entire being was JUST inside his room.  But he stopped coming out.  And he eventually listened to me.

And I never had a problem with him listening to me again. EVER. And I lived with him for four more years.

There was one other time, though, when I took him to Target with me. It was around the same time as this room incident. I told him before we went into the store what we were there for and that I couldn’t get anything more than that and asked that he not ask for anything. When we got into the store he was fine. At first. Then he started trying to run around and asking me to buy this or that. I reiterated what I said on our way into the store and told him, again, that I couldn’t get anything more and that if he asked again, we would leave.

He asked again almost immediately.

I said nothing but grabbed his hand, wheeled the cart to the cart rack and walked out the store.

My nephew said nothing, just walked with me toward the car. When we finally got to the car and I got him in the car, he finally started to cry.

I never had a problem going back into a store with him after that. EVER.

I tend to think that the reason things went well with my nephew is because I’m not his parent. Sure I lived with him and basically played Mom, but I was not his mom and he knew that. I also always treated him with a certain amount of respect and not like some dumb little kid that couldn’t understand anything. And I think that respecting him made him respect me more than his parents who treated him like a dumb little kid who didn’t understand anything.

These are just my own personal, unprofessional thoughts though.

When it comes to my own- my Lovie… I’m guessing it won’t be that easy.  I’m guessing there will be more disciplinary action to take place. I’m not really looking forward to it because it hurts to see her upset, but I refuse to allow certain bad behaviors/actions take place. And I am the parent, after all.

I haven’t read any books, I haven’t taken any child psych classes or anything (though I’ve watched my fair share of Supernanny- go JoJo go!). I just... KNOW... that consistency and following through are key with anything when it comes to learning. And I also distinctly remember what it was like to be the kid that got treated like she didn’t matter.


  1. PJ still throws stuff on the floor. And Sabrina will to, and do tons of other things to test you, until she reaches the age of 4 or so when you can reason with her.

    Until then, let the testing begin.

  2. well yes. of course. but that doesn't mean i sit by and do nothing about it. i'll be damned if, at 4 (or 3 or 12), we can't take her anywhere b/c she's "a handful" the way my nephew was. kwim?

  3. Two things...

    First off, those pictures of Lovie in your last post are SO freakin' cute! My gosh, I just love her! :)

    Now, back to this ;)...isn't it the worst being the "bad guy"!?!? Espeically as working moms, I hate that I only spend a few hours/day with Mia, and when those hours are spent (or at least part of them), reprimanding her bad behavior, it breaks my heart BUT, like you said, it HAS to be done! No one wants to have "that kid" that isn't welcomed places becuase they are too out of hand! :)

    Lovie loves you, even if you are a mean mommy and don't let her throw her dinner all over the floor! ;)

  4. Setting boundaries is important and even makes kids feel more comfortable. I remember an exercise we did when I was training to work on a phone hotline. We made a circle, holding hands to make the circle complete. Then one-by-one we all had to enter the circle, blind-folded, and look for the boundary. It was comforting to find it and unsettling to spin off to the edge of the room and trip over a chair because the boundary of the circle had broken. Having boundaries and rules feels good (don't let your inner rebel talk you out of it!)

    I love it that you:
    1. gave her affection afterwards to separate your feeling sofr her from your feelings about the behavior.
    2. Meant what you said with your nephew. He was probably a handful because the threat of consequences had previously been empty.

    Ada is currently hanging her head and raising a hand to cover her eye/forehead area. It's very dramatic - very funny but also heart-wrenching at the same time. I guess this is one reason why motherhood can be a hard job.

  5. Sounds like a tough and hurting job. And you´re doing great at this, I think. Hope my Bro and SIL manage like this, too (won´t interfere, though, certainly).


speak your mind.