I've gotten a couple of questions regarding The Taming of the Two, that I'll just try and answer really quickly.
First, is it too late to teach older kids to be able to stop and/or control their crying when disciplined?
No way! We didn't know about teaching our kids this until Noah. In a way, it's probably a little easier to teach them the concept of what you mean since they are older (they understand the words "be quiet" and "cry quietly" or "stop crying"), but it's a little more difficult to get them to actually harness their self control if they've previously been allowed to protest loudly when they're in trouble.
With Ethan and Moriah (the main two we've had to actually teach this to as Anna and Caleb are older and get the concept perfectly, even if they don't like it) we just kind of explained that it was no longer going to be okay for them to scream, throw a fit, cry super loud, etc. if they were being disciplined or just mad at someone. Screaming and yelling need to be reserved for when you really need help and it was not okay to be overly hysterical when being disciplined or when you're angry. We explained it ahead of time, and in the event they are going to be disciplined, we remind them ahead of time. We do tell them if it's a spanking that they will receive an extra spank or two if they throw a fit. It really doesn't take very long for them to know that you seriously expect them to hold in their cries or at least cry softly. If they know they will be in further trouble if they throw a fit, they will stop being hysterical and master self control.
If you have a particularly stubborn child (as is Moriah), sometimes this can turn into a big hairy deal with loud hysterics and running and hiding. In that case, just keep your cool, be very aloof, but fight it through to the end. I've been known to have to securely hold a child with all of my strength waiting for them to calm down. Once they have calmed down (after a particularly hysterical event), then follow through with whatever consequence you decide (spanking, loss of privilege, etc.)
Anyway, so we basically explained it, and if they started to do it, we reminded them to stop. As it's training, they probably won't do it the first time on command (or second, or third...but they will begin to get the picture). So, we gather the child into our arms, or onto our lap, hold them securely and put our hand over his or her mouth (again, just their mouth, not their nose...obviously) to help them calm down. It's basically them learning to close their mouth instead of opening it and yelling, so placing our hand over their mouth serves to help them learn to just keep it closed and hold in their cry. (This always sounds so mean when you type it out, but I promise it's not.) If they continue to cry loudly and protest, remind them they will get a spank, and if they don't begin to make an attempt to bring their loud crying under control (you'll see them actually working through the process of calming down), then follow through. If you see an attempt being made, encourage them, and continue to hold them until they are calm.
It is actually pretty neat to watch a young child mastering control over the outward expression of their anger or frustration. Obviously, you want to deal with root problems, heart issues, etc. and not just teach them to stuff it, but I'm specifically talking about teaching them to not throw a fit. With our older kids especially, when discipline has gotten to the point of a spanking, a good (often long) conversation usually follows to draw out the heart issue and find out what's really going on. So again, I'm not talking about stuffing or ignoring emotions and not dealing with things, I am purely talking about being able to cry quietly.
And for the record, crying is perfectly acceptable when you're hurt or sad :o)
A Little More on Blanket Training...
I didn't have a way to get in touch with Christy who asked me about it (hi!), I thought I'd just answer it here.
I have mainly two areas that I do this in. The first place is a large area rug (5x8) that is right in the middle of our house. It is right in the middle of all the activity as our floor plan is pretty much completely open. I put the baby/child on it (this can also be taught when they're older), show them the boundaries, touch the rug, say "stay on the rug," touch the floor, say "no, no. don't go off the rug." Touch rug, say "yes," touch the wood floor, say "no." Repeat a few times in a totally cheerful, happy mood. They are not at all in trouble, I'm not trying to convey displeasure, after all, I want them to be happy on the rug. Make sure you have some toys, books, entertainment of some sort available in the area you want them to stay.
I stay right by them, at first paying attention to them. When they stick their little hand or foot off the rug, place them firmly back within bounds, and repeat as above. I'll repeat it two or three times before I give them a little swat. But I stay cheerful! This is key. I still stay with them giving little swats each time they test the waters until they decide to comply. As I don't want this to turn into a crying session, after I give a swat, I will attempt to occupy them with the toys. Then I walk off a little, still very close by, but I'll wash dishes, or read, or whatever (make them think the police are otherwise occupied!). As soon as they decide to test me again, I'm on top of it, cheerfully giving them a little swat, putting them back with the toys. At first, they will probably not want the toys as they're beginning to get a little mad at their new found lack of previous freedom, but if you just ignore their crying a little, they will decide to eventually get over it and occupy themselves.
If you have a baby that is just getting really upset at the whole process, stay and play with them long enough to distract them and get them happy. Then walk away and expect them to stay. Again, like all training, it's a process, you will probably have to repeat the scenario over and over, and it will take a little time at the outset, but it will be well worth it, and your child will learn to play within bounds happily. I believe it really fosters the use of creativity and imagination as they learn to have fun in a defined area.
The other area I use is actually our school room (that isn't actually used for school as all my kids like to sprawl all over the rest of the house, thereby leaving the school room free for the little kids to play in). It's a room off of the main area with french doors, so it's a little more confined, but I just teach them to stay on the carpet (the area outside the doors is wood) by showing them the "line" as mentioned earlier.
I do want to say that I don't use it as a way to ignore my children or their needs, it's just a way for them to play safely, happily, and learn obedience and how to play on their own. I know a lot of moms who feel that they can never get away from their children as their children have become very dependant on being entertained by mom and never learn to play by themselves. A child's ability to play by him/herself is a vital skill. That's never been a problem around here, although I have noticed that Noah and Haven are a lot more used to being entertained by someone at all times so I've had to make it a point to allow them to have some alone time.
A couple of useful links for blanket training are Moms and More and Life In A Shoe (she also explains some common misconceptions, what blanket training is not, and is kind of funny about it). It is really along the same lines as teaching your child to not touch something breakable, not to grab your glasses, not to pull plates off the table, not to touch a Christmas tree, etc. Also, I do not use a wooden spoon, rod, paddle, etc. in teaching them. Around here the whole process is done happily and cheerfully.
And now, for my confession...
in case anyone comes over,
I have not actually blanket trained Haven yet, that little guy has free run of the place
well, except for pack n play time, but that's another topic :o)
"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton
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