Anyone have good tips for a pregnant mother with a 3 year old and a 1 1/2 year old who love to hit, scratch, shove, slap, kick, etc?  My old assistant (who is now working somewhere else) said we are spoiling them, and they need to be spanked.  My new assistant is lovely with them, and tries to divert them as opposed to physical punishment (we are against it!  But maybe we are wrong....), but both of these helpers have never had children, and I have researched a bunch, and come up with many conflicting "expert" ideas.  Are there any moms out there who have had success with a discipline method?  We have been doing time outs with the 3 year old, and I haven't seen much of a difference, but he is not as bad as the 1 year old, who doesn't understand time outs.  Sigh. :)

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I don't have multiple children, so I won't pretend to be an expert. I do know that immediate consequences are important. Waiting too long to correct the behavior or even prolonging the "punishment" makes it less effective. Their attention spans are short and so 10 minutes after the event takes place, they will have likely forgotten what they did wrong. Stick with peaceful discipline. Spanking as a means to teach non-violence always seemed counter-intuitive to me. Encourage them to "use their words" I used this technique with my daughter and it was wonderful. Whining was always met with "use your words" Until she spoke, (or tried to speak when she was still learning) I did not give her what she wanted. When she wanted to fuss or even lash out, I encouraged her to use her words. She learned very quickly that being calm and communicating with language got much better results.

Of course, I know it's harder with two...but perhaps this will help. My daughter is 8 now and is known as a peace maker among peers and adults alike.

Good luck!!
I have two boys the same age as yours and I am also pregnant. I spank. I spank with conviction and make sure that I have a lot of older women in my life that I check in with and talk to about the kids. I'm not going to try to convince you that spanking is the best way to go since there is so much controversy surrounding the issue.

But I will tell you that it's really, really important to make sure that if the kids are physical with each other, that when the discipline is over (be it spanking, time-outs, whatever) that they apologize to one another. My little guys have to be specific, "I'm sorry for hitting you" or "I'm sorry for hitting you with the truck" and the other one needs to say "I forgive you". Then they have to hug it out. Sounds time consuming, but I figure that I want them to learn to take care of each other, which is the opposite of hurting each other.
Oo, I like the "use your words" idea, as there seems to be a lot of whining coming from our 3 year old lately. And I agree with the short attention spans, they don't remember even after their timeouts. Emily, we have been making them apologize and hug it out! That's what they get to do after timeout, and they hate it. haha. Well, I really want these "physical" boys to learn about empathy! My friend also told me to give up on the non-spanking, that my kids would end up in therapy like hers if I was a push-over like she was. I really don't think I'm a push-over....I yell too much though. They've gotten used to it, and they know it is not a threat. Sigh.
One of the greatest things I've learned (with 4 children) is that immediate correction is best. If you count to three, your child knows they have til "3" to procrastinate and not immediately respond to you (whether you give a command, ask a question, etc..) This can come back to bite you in an emergency situation when you absolutely need your child to trust you and respond to you the first time. I truly dont believe young children have the fullness of rationale it takes to be able to make a decision based on free will and their own choice. Like all humans, the choice of choice is the choice that will gratify "self". If you wait until the child makes the "right choice" chances are it's too late. Older ones are different, after they've been trained in the ground rules you wish to establish.

You have to be the adult, be the parent and give the child security in knowing someone else is "in charge" and capable of handling any given situation. When a child does not have security in knowing "who the boss' is, they often act out because they sense there is no adult in control and then they will, by nature, be the one to assume control. If this is allowed to start even at age one, then you will be the puppet to numerous puppeteers. Be sure to thwart manipulation and make it ungratifying and uncomfortable for them to intentionally manipulate, deceive or lie. If this morale is ingrained now, it will help later. They will also learn to own up and be accountable for their actions.

I tend to be a loud talker when I'm getting stressed....a yeller at times too. I have learned that if I yell at my children when i want their response, then I have trained them to only respond to me when I'm yelling. We have all seen the scenario:

"Jimmy, Mama wants you to pick up your toys now." Jimmy ignoes Mom.

Mom says, "Jimmy? Did you hear me?! I just told you to pick up your toys." Jimmy looks up at Mom but still continues to not pick up his toys.

Increasingly frustrated, Mom yells, "Jimmy! i told you to pick up your toys, NOW!" Immediately, Jimmy gives the "uh-oh" face and jumps to his feet to pick up his toys.

If we train our children to do what we say, when we say it the first time, and in a calm voice, then our children will respond to us when we speak calmly instead of ONLY when we are yelling. This way, yelling can be reserved and used for emergency or danger situations.

Tying heart-strings now will pay dividends beyond measure, later. Take the time out to be fully interested in the things they like. Build things together, cook, do crafts, play games. If they can trust you to meet their EVERY need (even their need for discipline and correction when they are wrong) when they are young, then it sets a pattern for you to be there to help meet their needs as they grow, thus building a realtionship built on trust. I often tell my children that my loving them does not always mean I wont tell them when they are wrong. Allowing them to suffer the consequences for their actions now and learn cause and effect will help them become better adjusted adults later who have an understanding that it's not "all about me" and will hopefully thwart an entitlement attitude.

Making sure they get plenty of sleep is so crucial. Young children need at least 10-12 hours. i have even read up to 14 hours a day. I always face some kind of behavioral issue when we do not get enough sleep. Proper nutrition and productive outside time (we work in the garden, go on nature walks, treasure hunts. etc..) helps to promote awareness of their surroundings, educational opportunities, thoughtfulness of others and the world around them, etc.. which inevitably will apply to home life. A predictable bedtime schedule is helpful too.

Start chore charts early and help them value work at a young age. A family consists of many individuals working together,each doing their job and being their important role, in order to make it all work. Each person has their own special task and that also promotes security. My children all wanted to help with laundry as little as 9 months old. Let the one year old be in charge of washcloths. Let him play with them and try to fold them. Of course, we know they cant actually do the "job" but it gives them a sense of importance, belonging, etc.. We progressed into a garden and now our 2 year old helps weed :)

Consistency, consistency, consistency! Honor your word. If you tell them the next time they do _______, you will not allow them to do or have ______ and then let them have it anyway, you are teaching your child that your word is not honorable and that you dont care enough for them to follow through. If you follow through everytime, you send the message that you mean what you say. I have learned this the hard way a couple of times and have always regretted it. When you do the right thing for them each time, you will feel more valuable as a parent and value yourself more too. I feel proud of myself when I implement the rules and standards I have set. When I dont, I feel I have let both my children and myself down.

I hope some of these tips help you. I have been there with little ones while pregnant. I know what I know because I've learned some of this the hard way, some from others' experiences and some from reading. I am neutral on the spanking issue...to each his own. Just remember, if you do choose to implement spanking, do so when you are not angry. Allow yourself a timeout of your own to cool down and focus This way, the children wont associate spanking with anger.
I think there are several good points here. I don't 'believe' or 'not believe' in spanking. There are times when I think that it is what my boys needed and there are times, now that they understand more, that other consquences work better. We went through a period of time (from about ages 2 to 4) when the boys just didn't understand the higher concepts we were trying to teach. So, we cut down the concepts to 'obey the first time you are asked to do something'. Now that they are older (ages almost 7 & 9), we are able to hold conversations with them about why we want things done a certain way. However, the ground work for 'obey the first time; ask questions later' has been set.

We also set the rule 'ask One adult, One time' rule. This way, they didn't try to keep asking people do the line (dad, mom, grandma, etc) until someone gave them the answer that they wanted. This was helpful around age 3-5 to reinforce that we are a team; we being the parents and the caregivers.

I agree with the 'don't spank while angry' sentiment. Children are able to sense your anger or calmness and will equate that with the consquence. We made a point of saying that if they broke the rules, they had the consquences; that we were only enforcing the conquences. Of course, the wording was frustating the younger they were.

Remember, deciding to spank or not is a flexible decision, it can be changed as the child matures. Discuss things with your partner and whoever else is responsible for displining the children and set up consquences for the ways that they have been acting out. Be consistent so that the child learns that his actions cause the consquences.

Also, we set another rule of 'whoever was overseeing the child or to whom the offense was is the person to administer the consquence.' This way, it wasn't always mom or dad that was being the heavyweight. Example- If the child disobeyed me in not picking up his stuff right away, then I handled the consquences. If the child told a lie to dad, then dad took over the displine.

I think that this young age is so impressionable and really sets precedents for how you will interact with your child as they age. I've told mine more as they've gotten older that 'because they are behaving, we are able to do more fun activities, such as going to places, etc. I say that this is because they are being nice that I want to do more nice things for them. I also mention that they are often invited back to friends' houses because they are respectful to others. These conversations show them the good consquences of their actions.
Well put!
I would try anything other than spanking. In my opinion, there is never an excuse to hit or strike your child. Ever.
I agree-- it sends the message that there are times it's okay to hit another person-- not a big stretch for one child to hit another when provoked.
I only physically punish my child as a last resort. And it is best to correct bad behavior early. So because the older kids have been acclimated to this behavior, it will be much harder to get them to stop.
Many times, kids are bad because they feel neglected and want your attention so it is important to make them feel like they are getting the attention they deserve. For example, we just had our second child a few weeks ago. Initially, our daughter was really bad but we started to ask her to "help" out. We would say "Baby needs new clothes" and she would go and get clothes for him. Or "Please throw this in the trash" and she would do it. And she has been 100 times better.
Timeouts haven't worked for me. My daughter always thought it was funny.
And contrary to the popular belief of "Pick your own battles", we win every battle. I think this is important. If you give a command and your child disobeys, I punish them. I don't count to 3 and they only get 1 chance.
My daughter obeys me 99% of the time and she is probably the happiest and friendliest kid you'll ever meet.
First off, you've gotten some great advice hear all around. If your two are like mine(just had our third in April), then the older often sets the tone for the general mood in your family. If my oldest is behaving, the younger follow suit. I'd keep that in mind.

Secondly, IMO BOTH of those kids are old enough to understand that physically touching someone else in an aggressive way, is unacceptable. I would immediately ending the situation as soon as the behavior starts. There has to be undesirable consequences if you want it to stop. Both kids are old enough to have privileges taken away, they just have to be appropriate. The 3 can lose toys for the day, or have a time out. The little one needs to be removed from the situation as soon as he hits, kicks etc, for a short period of time. He is doing these things to get attention, and so the opposite needs to occur, and then EXTRA cuddling when he does behave. The same cuddling goes for the older boy, but he is old enough to have a bit more of a consequence.
Third, I am hearing a lot of negative things about spanking these days. We spank in our home, but it is not a consequence that is met often, as we believe it is a last resort, and only to be used in certain circumstances. I don't believe for a second that it creates violent or frightened children. My kids do not hit, scratch, bite, etc, and they are most certainly not frightened. On the contrary I know children who do all of the above, and have never been spanked.

Lastly, what's the parenting situation like in your home? Does your husband help much? I think all kids, but especially boys, learn respect from their daddy. He's their example, so he needs to be strongly correcting this behavior. It may be that part of the problem that you two aren't uniting together, or if you two have conflicting ways of disciplining.

Oh and I also wanted to say that I really respect you for being open and honest about your situation. NONE of us are perfect. It's refreshing that you are so candid.
I'd like to second that it helps to have dad or another male role model for the boys. Also, my boys just like to be rough-housed with and so that helps them be physical in a fun situation. My husband does this better because he understands it better.
I agree! There ARE some great ideas on here- thank you thank you- all. Oh, and my husband owns his own business and works at home, so he has tons of interaction with the boys....he is a great dad, but yes, he came from a family that never really talked, let alone yelled. :) He is shocked when I do, and I try not to...haha. I don't consider us abusive or anything, I just wish there was a 100 percent effective way to prevent the boys from hurting each other. Time outs haven't worked, and while they love to rough house with their dad, and play outside, and go to parks with me, etc, it doesn't seem to get out their desire to hit. I have done the "counting to 5 thing" and they ignore that like the yelling. I think that is interesting advice about one adult one time, and 1 chance, or obey the first time. Sometimes I wish I could just put each kid in a separate house, and split myself. :) Going to be interesting when the third boy comes along! Sigh. I will try these ideas...I'm still not sure about spanking. All I know is I did NOT want any assistant to touch them- if we do have to go to physical punishment it will be their parents, not a teacher. We have an assistant 4 hours a day in the morning...

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