Other People Enforcing Discipline | Giftie Etcetera: Other People Enforcing Discipline

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Other People Enforcing Discipline

There are certain rules I will enforce with Ander no matter what other adults say. For example, he may not be rude to his father and me, even if grandma tells him to be rude. He may not hurt others, even if encouraged by an aunt. But beyond the big stuff, it's not a big deal if he gets away with a little, or even a lot, more with others.

Last night was a prime example. He started to throw his little pieces of pizza on the floor (and in his paternal grandma's house, that means the carpet). So I took away the pizza and told him, "No, no. Food stays on the table. Now sit and watch us eat." I intended to give him a brief timeout where he just had to sit there, then offer him something else. (I realized that the pizza crust just might be too difficult for him to eat, but I wanted to teach him that even then, throwing food is not acceptable.) Alan reached over and gave him a piece of hamburger meat. Immediately.

I was livid. "Alan, did you really just undermine me?" Alan explained that he didn't realize I was planning to take the food away for a minute, and advised Ander that he wouldn't be getting anymore for a minute. I could tell that Alan really had just misunderstood. And Alan and I are actually quite good at backing each other up.

But then I looked up, and a cousin looked particularly sheepish. She had also fed him. She apologized. "No need," I assured her.

Why the difference?

Mommy and daddy simply have to be consistent. If the rule is no throwing food, you must enforce it, pretty much every time, or the child never really knows what the boundaries are. But a child can understand that rules might be different, say, if his cousin is watching him. Mommy might make you take a break before you get more food, but grandma might not. And that's fine, as long as grandma realizes that she will have to clean up the food you throw.


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