Monday, October 1, 2012

Constantly Needing to Correct the Child

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3.5 years ago, I wrote a post for titled Siblings and the Funnel. In it, I cautioned parents against allowing younger siblings the same freedoms as the older siblings. I talked about why it happens and what to do about it.

This was written shortly before my third child was born. If I thought it was difficult to parent inside the funnel with two children less than two years apart, I had no idea what I was in for with the three children, and I am sure as I sit now with a fourth child who is a newborn, I don't know the challenges I will face with children 7 years apart.

On Becoming Pretoddlerwise cautions against parenting outside the funnel, including with siblings. The authors, Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, point out that we don't want to allow 15 month olds 2 year old freedoms or two year olds 5 year old freedoms (see page 106). Why do we not want to allow children to do things that are not age-appropriate? On a physical level, children can get hurt, hurt others, and damage property. 

You will also see the child is very disobedient. "If you start to see that you are constantly correcting, chasing after your pretoddler, if he throws a fit when you remove an object from his hands, or you find yourself repeatedly removing your child from the same unpleasant situations, these are realistic indicators that you are parenting 'outside the funnel' " (pages 106-107).

You certainly can (and will) find yourself parenting outside the funnel when you have just one child. It happens. As parents we are all learning on the job. I think we notice and correct it faster with just one child, though. With siblings, we easily fall into the mistake of allowing the child to do things that are not age appropriate for her. I think we need to make a conscious effort to avoid it--and I find that more true with more children.

On the flip side, always remember to give freedoms when the child is ready. If you withhold freedoms  the child will be frustrated. I think this most often happens with an oldest child.

If you find you have been allowing too many freedoms and you are now trying to cut back, know that some children are tenacious enough to repeatedly try to hold on to that freedom for quite some time. Two of my children will respond pretty immediately to reigning in of freedoms, but my third little one can and often will hold on to trying to maintain that freedom well beyond the time frame that seems reasonable. Some of you may have similar personality types :)

Next week, we will talk about how to set boundaries and I will address doing so with siblings. Sure, with an oldest child you can keep toys that are too old for the child out of reach, but when you have a 7 year old and a 3 year old in the house, how do you keep the 3 year old from playing with toys meant for 7+? More on that next week. For now, learn more about the funnel and freedoms:


Michael and Yvonne said...

Great post and can't wait til next weeks post! I agree it is much more challenging when you have more kids as they just get exposed to a lot more in the house vs when it was your first.
I have trouble determining when it's too much vs too little freedoms as they get older....I mean I understand the concept but i guess it's just trial and error and maybe just plain observations to see what they can handle. I think like you say it's usually too much when younger but as they get older maybe parents can fall in the latter especially for firstborns. I think probably firstborns get freedoms later and the young ones earlier then they "should" perhaps. On the other hand I think when they start school they can really fall into the wise in their eyes (especially if the firstborn) and they are overloaded I think from all the school day activities and it's a bit too much for them until they adjust.
Anyways I'm eager for your future posts!:)

Plowmanators said...

You are so right Yvonne. And it gets hard with older kids because it isn't a "all 7 year olds can handle X freedom." They are so different--as are individual circumstances. There is a lot of trial and error.

Tania Hilton said...

Great topic! Can't wait for next week! I have a very fustrated 2.5 year old who wants to do everything his 4.5 yr old brother does and I'm sure it will be even worse when my baby (now 14 weeks!) Will be in the mix! I am so greatful for your blogs and advice!

Brittany W. said...

I enjoyed this post very much! I never really thought about this, but it makes so much sense, esp. now with baby#2 on the way.

Kristy Powers said...

I agree with Yvonne that it's hard to work on this until you've already made a mistake and recognized it. With that said, somehow I am better at this (I think! maybe?) with our second son than our first. I was so inexperienced with the first! This time around it seems easier, but then again, like Val said, the variables increase with more different personalities. Sometimes our younger guy objects and sometimes he uses his fairly strong will, but he has grown up used to not getting to do everything his brother does or play with everything his brother does and he usually accepts it as normal. It helps to have separate rooms! Who knows what will happen in the complex preteen and teen years with two boys three years apart.

Mountainmayhem said...

Hi Valerie. I have been reading your website for years and have found it immensely helpful particularly as you give not only wise counsel but Godly advice. I have followed baby wise since day 1 with my first and now have four kids (5,3,2 and 3 months) and are so thankful for 4 good sleepers! However X We are having big battles with the 2 year old currently - he is only just 2. Since being a newborn he has always been very alert and needed a lot less sleep I.e if we were out and about, he would nap for half an hour then wake and was impossible to get back to sleep! I used to stress about it as he was so different from his siblings- however, with consistency and continuing with baby wise he still developed good nap routines and night time sleep. However, he has recently moved into a bed and discovered freedom! We have enforced that he stay in bed and disciplined where necessary but if he has his afternoon nap then he is wide awake in the evening and will push the boundaries repeatedly. He can happily miss a nap but after a couple of days, he is very grumpy as he clearly needs its but if he does nap, he will stay awake late in the evening in his bedroom And wake early. Is it possible that he doesn't need as much sleep so I should let him nap every other day or is it a phase that I should continue to battle by enforcing him being in bed 'trying' to sleep in the evening? Sorry for the long post. I am unsure what to do, thanks, lauren


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