I have been doing a lot of listening, thinking, and reading (this article and this article are particularly helpful) about toddler development and discipline, and I have drawn some conclusions about what might work best for Cara and for me. However, I want to clarify this first: when my pediatrician suggested that we withhold affection, I do not think he meant neglecting or rejecting our child, which would be cruel and almost abusive. My understanding of this method is that parents do not reward bad behavior with positive attention. Based on what I have read lately, it seems that toddlers often act out in order to get their parents' attention, so the thinking here is that you don't reward them with hugs, kisses, conversation, or other types of positive interaction. For example, if Cara was having a tantrum because we told her no/removed her from a potentially bad situation/took something from her, we would not pick her up and hug her to try to make it better. A tantrum is not so effective without an audience to respond. *side note: I am very, very thankful that Cara's tantrums are few and short (day 17).
After reflecting on the fireplace incident and talking to lots of other moms, I think I was right and wrong. I was right in that, honestly, we should have been watching her more closely. I was right in that she probably knew better than to scoop ashes out of the fireplace. BUT, I was wrong in my reaction. I was never angry or out of control, but there was clearly no connection for Cara between playing in the fireplace and no bath toys or books. I did not do what the doctor suggested. I think I just made up my own plan on the fly because I had not thought through how I would handle a situation like that.
I don't think I can be a spanker right now, but not because I am judgmental of those who do spank. I'm just not tough enough to do it yet, and I don't want to teach Cara that hitting is okay. She won't be able to understand that hitting is bad if Mommy and Daddy hit her, even if the "hit" is spanking. However, I suspect that as she gets older, there may be times when spanking or swatting a hand is necessary. Or not? I don't know.
I like time out, but I don't think Cara is there yet. I can see this playing out in my head, and I would spend more time and energy keeping her in one spot than it is worth. She has the attention span of a gnat right now (Are you calling me a g-nat??), and maybe I am lazy, but I don't want to fight that battle. Yet. (What is the magic age when she could understand the connection between her behavior and time out?)
And now that I have thought it through, here's what I think we'll do. Yesterday, Cara was trying to pull a candle holder off a table. I took the candle holder out of her hands, got down to her eye level, held her hands in mine, and said "Mama said no. Don't pull things off the table. Mama said no." Cara looked at me for a few seconds, nodded her head, and walked off to go terrorize the cat. I think my main method is going to need to be prevention for the next few months until she's really ready for time out. The eye-to-eye, hand-holding conversation seemed to work. The challenge is going to be catching her before we have another fireplace incident.
What do ya'll think? I am still definitely open to suggestions and advice.
And one more thing: I am sooooo thankful for SEWING CLUB tonight!! (day 18)