August 16, 2012

When disciplining backfired…

Category: Being Parents

When we started enforcing consequences on Spud’s unacceptable behaviour , we certainly didn’t see this one coming.

You see, one weekend, 2 weekends short of Spud’s 2ndbirthday to be exact, we had an enlightenment. A rude, slap-in-the face enlightenment.  That day, she was hell-bent on pushing Silver Bullet’s button, and she did. 
With it comes to disciplining Spud, we try to educate her by enforcing consequences for her defiant behaviours. This will include things like when she continues to spit up her food for no reason, throwing her plate off the table in a defiant way, swatting her spoon at us when she is being fed, or generally hitting, screaming, kicking or throwing her toys at us in anger, despite being given several warnings to stop her unacceptable behaviour. Or else.
The “or else” would be us calmly but firmly telling her that she’ll get no dessert, no shower, no TV and no more playing. She will go straight to bed and she will sleep until tomorrow morning. We enforce this by hauling her to her bed and close her bedroom door behind us. We have done this a few times when she gets ultra-defiant. 
Usually, this will result in Spud belting out a screaming fit for about a minute. We will then come get her, try to calm her down, and try to explain to her on that specific set of unacceptable behaviour. She usually “gets it”. This works like a charm – mainly because she doesn’t like to sleep in the day and the fact that she cannot get out of the bed by herself. As soon as we get her out of bed, she will behave. It then will be like as if nothing had happened. (!)
Now, I can’t quite recall what exactly happened on that day, but whilst I was in the shower, Silver Bullet had already whisked Spud off to her bed. As I was going down the stairs, I then saw this little girl wailing away as she opened her own bedroom door and started running towards the stairs!
Confused, I asked Silver Bullet what happened. He seemed confused himself. Not to mention shocked as well. 
It turned out that our Little Spud has just become an escape artist. She has by now, managed to climb out of her rather high cot bed with her acrobatic climbing skills. It was something we did not expect; I reckon, it was probably something Spud did not know that she could do either. Not until at that point in time. 
It was then Silver Bullet realised that the punishment of putting her to bed had just backfired. Not knowing what to do as we both we still in shock, Silver Bullet then tried to calm her down and picked her up. While things simmered for a while, we both can’t help wondering how she managed to climb out of her cot.
At dinner time the same day, an hour later, she again pushed Silver Bullet’s button while I was feeding her. The same threat was used – but this time, we were already quite skeptical if it would work. It obviously didn’t – as soon as I put her in her cot and closed the door behind me, she immediately tried to climb out . I waited for less than 5 seconds right outside her door, and when I opened the door again,  I heard a loud thud.  I thought I saw her jumped off the rail of her cot. It was quite a height.
My heart immediately palpitated. Shaking, I picked her up from the floor and put her back in her bed. I then went down to her level,  held her firmly and told her in a very stern voice that she was not allowed to climb out and the only way she can get out was when either Papa or Mama picked her up. Each time she tried to climb out, I put her back in. Thankfully, I did not have to try very hard, for she immediately complied by pleading that she wanted to continue eating – something she refused to do 5 minutes ago.  We hugged and we kissed and I made her say “sorry”. Then it all ran like clockwork. She finished her dinner without a fight and it was, again, as if nothing had happened. 
Now that I know she is more than capable to climb out of her cot bed, I had all sorts of safety hazard scenarios playing in my head. It was one of the most stressful evenings at home we have ever had. 
Watching the CCTV later that night, we saw that Spud had used the edge of the bed to leverage herself upwards, using just the strength of her arms. When she climbed out the first time, she had jumped and while doing so, had hit her chin quite hard on the side bar of her bed. 
It has now become a major safety hazard, mainly for herself. 
When we put her to bed that night and several nights later until we set up her new bed, we gently told her several times that she can only get out of bed when we come get her in the morning. Thankfully she listened. 
That day, marked the day when we realized that the calling for our barely 2 year old monkey to be transitioned to a toddler bed was happening sooner than later. 
We certainly did not see this one coming. At least, not the way how it all had transpired.

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