The other night, I was running Cate’s bath and she walked in carrying the rock that we use as a doorstop to prop open the baby gate at night. (I know that probably sounds sillly to some people, but after the cats woke us up at 3 a.m. a few times yowling for us to open the gate and let them in or out, we gave up. So, we now have a rock that lives in our hall. What can I say, it works.) The rock is about the size of a grapefruit, so it’s small, but large enough that it would really hurt if you dropped it on your foot. Cate walked into the bathroom with it and promptly threw it on the floor. I know she was doing it because she wanted to hear the loud noise, but I was worried about her hurting her toes (and also possibly damaging the floor), so I said “no,” picked up the rock, and put it back in the hall.
Of course, being her little toddler self, she immediately went back to retrieve the rock. When she came back into the bathroom with it, I warned her, “Don’t throw the rock.” And she did. So I said, “NO!” in my meanest, stern-mommy tone, and I sat her down on the bathmat. (I realize that eventually I’ll need a designated “naughty spot,” but I worry that she’d forget why she was being punished by the time I moved her there, so for now I think it’s better to just plop her down on the spot.) She howled, while I calmly put the rock back in the hallway. Again.
When I came back into the bathroom, she was still crying. She took one look at me, stood up, and walked out of the bathroom and into our bedroom. She calmed herself down (which took maybe 10-15 seconds), then came back into the bathroom and said “hi.” I said hi back to her, then said, “Come give me a kiss.” And she did! The funny thing is, I don’t think she has ever given a kiss on command before. She gives kisses sort of randomly, but never when we ask for them – although sometimes when we ask for kisses, she’ll offer up her cheek for us to kiss her. It seemed like she genuinely understood that we were making up after she got into trouble.
So what do you know, I applied discipline to my kid and it worked. And she was a total sweetheart for the rest of the night. I know this is going to happen about a million more times, but I was really excited that she seemed to “get it” so easily. I’m crossing my fingers that things are still this easy a year from now when we’re in the middle of the terrible two’s. (You more experienced moms out there can go ahead and laugh at me now, if you’d like.)