When it comes to toddler discipline, I’ve discovered that there is a fine art to balancing it just right. Ironically, some of the most annoying things that Gavin can come up with don’t necessarily translate to something bad. Sure they push all my buttons and it sometimes requires all the self-control I have within me just to keep my foot from connecting with Gavin’s behind, but it also means he’s using his head and thinking outside the box.
To react too harshly against some of these behaviours would be to squash his creativity and discourage him from using his brain. Yet, to let certain behaviours go unpunished would be to neglect my duty as a parent. So how do you find the balance between over discipline and under discipline? Even now, knowing these things, I often wonder if I have been unnecessarily harsh or if I have been too lax. I find myself constantly re-evaluating my responses to Gavin’s behaviours and wondering if I should have done things differently.
I also find that certain disciplinary actions are influenced by emotions. These emotions may or may not have anything to do with the child’s behaviour. For instance, I’ve noticed that when hubby has had a bad day, he is more likely to be harsher with the punishments he deals out to Gavin for misbehaviour. Likewise, when Gavin has been particularly trying, I find that it sets a negative mood for the rest of the day. It becomes difficult to notice when he really does behave because the small compliance becomes overshadowed by the misdeeds.
Yet another variable to add to the equation is the presence of Gareth. Who would have thought that the addition of one little baby could have such an impact on the whole equation of family dynamics? Despite all the mental preparations I made, I still feel blown away by the changes that I could never have anticipated until the scenario became a reality.
Sometimes, I cannot help but feel that things with Gavin would have gone so differently if we had chosen to stop at one. That’s not to say that I regret having Gareth – oh no! I adore Gareth. But these days, the presence of Gareth creates such a contrast between the two boys that it is difficult not to feel increased frustration with Gavin’s behaviour. Balancing between over discipline and under discipline becomes even more challenging because I must consider the emotional turmoil that Gavin is experiencing with his baby brother around. The rules of discipline have to be adapted when there’s a new baby in the family.
I’m sure when Gareth is older and begins to create his own mischief, the contrast between the two boys will diminish and there will be more balance between them again. In the meantime, it requires an extra large dose of patience with Gavin and constant reminders that he is still only two turning three years old. It probably doesn’t help matters that Gareth is another high needs baby, probably even more so than Gavin was at this age and he’s pretty vocal about it, too! As the nurse puts it – he’s very fierce and he’ll “scold” you if he’s not happy with what you’re doing.
So many factors to consider on a sleep-deprived brain… No wonder it feels as though I’m going mad some days. I feel as if I’m floating but not exactly in a good way. The cogwheels in my brain are turning so slowly I barely register some of the things that are being said around me at times.