Oct 11, 2010

Disciplining Miss Davy: An Experiment on a Two Year Old

Throughout my life, I have often had issues with those in authority. I used to test the boundaries, break rules without getting caught, naughty things like that. So I assumed that my children would be so unlucky because I would know all of the good tricks.

Not so. Not so. She is trickier and smarter. She is conniving, mischievous, defiant and worst of all... two. years. old.

I am continuously outsmarted by a two year old. It's true.

Real life stories in...

Disciplining Techniques

1) Taking away privileges-Davy if you rip something out of Gianna's hand one more time and scream "MINE!" I am going to put away whatever you have up high [in my closet]. Immediately, she tests. "Mine! Mine! Mine!"....one pacifier-gone way up high. One second later... "Mine! Mine! Mine Gianna!" A purple sock-gone.
*Then she sits down, with no one around and screams, "Mine! Mine! Mine!" I walk up to her inquisitively, not sure how to approach the situation since she has nothing I can take from her. And she says, "Are you going to put me away? Way up there?" [points in the closet, so she can get her stuff back]. What a clever little thing she is. I had to step out of the room so I could try to compose myself. 

2) Positive Reinforcement- preventative discipline and mom manipulation. "Oh Gianna, look at how great Davy is at using a tissue! Isn't it amazing! She is such a big girl! Wow, that Davy can really wipe her nose." Things like that.

*She loves positive reinforcement. So much so, that she shows me her uneaten boogers allllll day. "Look Mommy! I did not eat this! I put it in a tissue." I can only get excited about boogers so many times before I start loose my fake mommy smile.

3) Firm negative dialogue-AKA yelling or talking loudly. "No Davy, we keep our milk in the cup." "No we DON'T keep it inna cup mommy. Weeeee keep it onna taaaaable."

*Pretty much never works. Unless I scream in panic when she is in imminent danger...a few times she has tried to open the car door while in her car seat on the highway. It sort of worked....well ok thank goodness for child lock. 

4) Corporal Punishment-I feel like it may be illegal in some states. Watch out or you will have Child Protective Services at your door... Anyway, I am sort of against it. I have tried it and I don't like it. Sometimes though I have a hard time thinking of other options...but beating your kids just doesn't seem like a good hobby to me.

*My attempt at spanking after she jumped in Gianna's crib for the 100th time and nearly squashed poor Gianna...A super lame spanking followed by "Ow Mommy you hurt me." ok done with that. Mom guilt times 1,000,000.

It does seem a little counter productive to try and teach a two year old not to hit, by hitting. I don't know.


Tonight I sat down with an Intervention Specialist who has a special interest in disciplining techniques and happens to be Davy's godmama. AKA my sister. She knows Davy well and we tried to think of a game plan for her. So I am going to implement a preventative award system with some serious intense positive reinforcement. Serious, like treats serious. And lots of them. The only problem is that lately the bribing has not been working so well with Davy. She would rather do what she wants when she wants then have my treats. So my sister Katie, said that I should ask Davy what she would like for her treat. Sounded fine to me. Whatever works.

So I decided I would sit down with her like the little adult that she pretends to be and explain to her the situation....

The next morning I did. I told her I needed to have a "conversation with her at breakfast." She was excited. She was like, "Oh I love kaversashums!"

"Davy you know how you have been practicing listening to mommy lately?"

Blank stare. "Can I have cereal?"

[me pouring cereal and milk] "You know how you have been going to time out for not listening to mommy?"

 "Yeahhh, I go timeout in my room."

"Yes, well I was thinking to help you practice being a big girl and listening to mommy, when you are a good listener, I will give you a treat!"

"yay! I love teeeats!"

"So what do you want for your treat?"

"A banana."

"ummmm ok."

A few days have passed so that I could effectively discuss this new technique.

Is it working? It definitely works. Sort of. Ok not really that well.

It is nice to see something work a little bit. She looses interest in the treat. The banana lasted for the rest of that day strangely and then I bought some good old fashion candy. She really loves gum. But since it is completely ridiculous to give a 2 year old gum multiple times a day, I have decided only to use gum as a last resort.

I keep the treats on the top of the refrigerator and she has pulled up a chair to reach them numerous times with no success. When she wants one she just walks around trying to do really obvious good things and smiling at me until I notice.

Basically this is a cry for help. Anyone have any amazing discipline advice for 2 year olds?


  1. LOL! no good advice - she sounds a lot like my boys! watch that candy on top of the fridge - A figured out that if he was barefoot he could actually 'walk' up the cabinet and get to the top of the fridge - our candy is now in tupperware on the top shelf of the pantry (which is a good hiding spot from mommy, too)

  2. I LOVE DAVY!!! SHe sounds just like you !! HAHA :)

  3. Super funny! My year and a half Greta is starting early, minus the talking, which would make life a lot simpler. Honestly, I'm right there with you, waiting to see what magical idea someone else will suggest. Greta usually throws tantrums about food, so we've been taking her away from the table when she does. Works decently because she loves food. Otherwise... just enjoy laughing at the funny parts. Apparently, most people outgrow the Terrible 2's :)

  4. Davy sounds so lovably precocious - and so smart! I think you're doing a great job with her. =)

    Noah isn't as wily yet, since he only just turned 2; we usually just do the distract and substitute method when he starts getting into things, which is mostly when he's bored or tired.

    When he is willfully naughty or refuses to share, fake (or real) crying actually works with him. Example: Frustrated at the app he's playing with, he throws my phone, so I pretend to cry, looking genuinely upset. Taken aback, he immediately looks contrite, leans over to kiss me, and retrieves the phone, with a "here you go, Mommy!" It seems to let him feel in control while giving him a chance to understand that his actions affect others (rather than feeling outrage/resentment that he's being punished b/c Mommy's mad at him). He likes to think he's the boss.

    Role-playing with stuffed animals seems to also help (e.g. praising stuffed animal for peeing on the potty, or letting him take out his frustrations on it). They're also good for comic relief to diffuse tantrums.

    And when desperate or tired, I resort to bribes, whether they're fruit popsicles, vitamin gummy bears, or an episode of Caillou.

    Anyway, that's what we do! I'm sure we'll have to adapt our methods as he gets older and more sophisticated.

  5. Thanks everyone for the helpful advice! I have already taken most of it and used it.
    @Christina, I use vitamin gummy bears too as bribes :). And great idea with the role playing.
    @ Maria I think a great new magical idea is to put them to bed super early...like 6:30PM courtesy of my friend Kelley.:)
    @ Erin you are so right. Karma baby. ;)
    @ Ellen must run in the family!

  6. :) I swear by these books.

    "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk"

    AND "Siblings Without Rivalry"
    both by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. If we are to be friends....you will hear A LOT about this stuff from me :P

    your blog is CUTE!


  7. @Anne. Thank you!!! So, per your advice, we totally ordered this and have been adapting the techniques. We bought a cd version of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and have been practicing their examples of empathy, which are quite hilarious. I will blog about it sometime. Can't wait to eat delicious food with you tomorrow. I'm already hungry for it.


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