Posts Tagged ‘ discipline ’

My Kid’s “Am I In Trouble For This?” Look

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

19 months.

There’s this classic look my son now gives me at least once a day. It’s the “Am I in trouble for this?” look.

Like when he decided to color the dog in one of my wife’s magazines, as opposed to one of his coloring books. Or whenever he squeezes a toy too hard and hears it creek, thinking it’s about to break.

What’s funny is that this look of his always catches me off guard. He never makes the face when he should.

He will stand on his Leaptop (toy laptop) or chew the rubber tire off an old Hot Wheels car of mine or throw a piece of food in the middle of dinner without any fear.

Despite the fact I have regularly scolded him for all of these things.

If you’re a regular reader of The Dadabase, then you know that one of my biggest “parent peeves” is when a parent warns and threatens their child but then doesn’t follow through with the discipline.

Well, I definitely follow through. My son knows to expect time-out or having a toy taken away from him; according to the crime.

He’s at a stage right now where he’s learning the patterns of what I will and will not accept as proper behavior. So some of these “things Dada won’t let me do” haven’t been firmly enough established.

Jack learns through trial and error. And so do I, in regards to what I’m okay with.

But what’s interesting is that the only things I will discipline him for are the things I’ve already instructed him against at least once.

My son knows that coloring the the coffee table with his crayons is not okay. He knows to get his Sesame Street coloring book to use as his canvas. So even when I gave him my wife’s magazine to color a dog in an ad and said, “Jack, let’s color this dog blue,” it still seemed too much like something he wasn’t allowed to do.

So he gave me the ”Am I in trouble for this?” look.

He and I will always be figuring these things out as we go.


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4 Out Of 5 Parents Spank Their Kids… Really? That Many?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

15 months.

According to a recent poll here on, 81% of parents have spanked their child at least once and 22% do so on a weekly basis.

That amazes me! So many, huh?

In our overly politically correct society, sometimes I feel like we can be expected to believe that the only ones who endorse spanking are the wacko, ultra-conservative religious cult members who are ultimately featured on a creepy episode of NBC’s Dateline.

It doesn’t help that the book To Train Up A Child is currently being linked to fatal child abuse cases; no matter how much the book actually had to do with the abuse.

Therefore, we evidently must leave it to Super Nanny to show us the right way to discipline our children: putting them in “time out.”

I was spanked as a child; like most of us, I assume. (At least 81% of us, right?)

Yet, arguably, I’m a pretty normal guy. I’m not psychologically traumatized nor am I an abusive husband or father. 

So I say, spanking is harmless when not excessive. But here’s my question: Is spanking necessary?

Honestly, I don’t know yet: My kid is only 15 months old.

The funny thing is, up until very recently, I was a supporter of spanking. But after several talks about it between my wife and me, I updated my opinion on the issue.

Here’s what I would like to believe:

That if A) I am properly setting practical, not legalistic, behavioral boundaries for my son, B) I am consistently following through with discipline (from “time out”  to having privileges taken away) every time he breaks the rules, C) I am clearly and positively communicating with him why he is being punished and D) I am assuring him that no matter what he ever does he can never cause me to love him any less, that it will never come down to the last resort of me having to spank him.

It seems to me that if I do A through D and none of that works, then hitting my child with my hand or a wooden paddle or a belt wouldn’t resolve the issue any better.

But hey, I’ve said before that I have this habit of every 5 years realizing what an idiot I was 5 years ago, so maybe this is just another classic example of me opening my big mouth and being a naive idiot again.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll truly be part of that 19%, the minority that doesn’t spank my child. I definitely plan to be.

No matter how polarized or politically correct our society is on this issue, I think here’s the heart of it: We believe in the importance of disciplining our kids.

Back in April 2010 when my wife was pregnant with our son and I was still “pro-spanking,” someone made a $5 bet with me that I “won’t have it in me” to spank my child when he gets older- that those big watery eyes and that quivering lip would cause me to cave.

I wonder if this means I lose the bet now? It’s not that I don’t have it in me to spank him, because I do. But I think my alternative plan will be just as effective.

After all, we can’t assume that the 19% of the people out there who were “unspanked” as kids are the ones keeping our prisons full, or at least earning 15 minutes of shame on the show Cops.

Does it really make a difference in the end whether a child is spanked, as long as the child is A) loved and B) disciplined?

Top image: Strict father punishes his son, via Shutterstock.

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Yes, I’m Teaching My Son the Power of “No”

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

15 months.

My son Jack understands a direct, calm-assertive “no” from me, which is much different from an unsure, half-panicked “n-n-n-n-n-no, no, no, no!

The difference is best illustrated by the way a period puts a solid end to a sentence, but if you add two more periods, making ellipsis points, the end to the sentence is suspended.

When I teach my son not to do something, I want the message to be conveyed with a period, not the equivalent of dot-dot-dot.

This past weekend my parents, my sister, her husband and their daughter came up for a visit and to watch Jack.

My wife and I had won a free stay at the Hutton Hotel in downtown Nashville. When we returned, my sister updated me how things went with Jack:

“He taught me everything in the house that he can’t touch. That includes the cords behind the TV, the blinds, and the flusher handle on the toilet.”

Jack even warned my mom with a “no” when she sat too close to the sliding glass door which I have taught him not to bang his toys against.

Now while I may be making myself out to be a Negative Ned with all this “no” training on my son, it’s important to note that I actually balance it with the power of “yes.”

When Jack makes proper decisions regarding the boundaries I set for him, he gets a “yes” from me along with a nodding head of approval.

He craves to know what the boundaries are. He loves learning what the “yes’s ” and “no’s” are in our house. And obviously, he also enjoys sharing what he has learned with others who visit.

Jack has taken on the responsibility of proclaiming boundaries to others. I like that. It makes me feeling that I’m doing something right.

Admittedly, I can’t help but think about what the future version of this looks like. As Jack gets older, how will his concept of “yes” and “no” guide him in his decision making abilities?

Will Jack continue to help others know the boundaries when it comes to all the good and bad decisions to be made?

I say “yes.”

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Training My Son Like Cesar Milan Trains Dogs

Monday, January 9th, 2012

13 months.

A few weeks ago as I was getting ready for work, I heard my 13 month-old son Jack screaming as my wife was understandably frustrated; she was trying to put a new diaper on him as he violently resisted on his bedroom floor.

If there were such a thing as “negative energy” glasses and I was wearing them that day, I would have been able to see little neon lighting bolts shooting out from his waving arms and legs and red spring-shaped lasers beaming from his mouth and eyes as he lay down “pitching a fit.”

I walked into the room and kneeled down, placing my right hand firmly on his chest and told him in a calm yet assertive voice: “Jack, you’re going to calm down. We’re going to put a diaper on you now. Relax, it’s okay.”

He instantly got quiet. No more crying; no more squirming. No more lightning bolts or lasers. All clear.

It wasn’t a coincidence he responded that way. Cesar Milan teaches pet owners to “be the pack leader,” using “calm-assertive energy” instead of simply mirroring the chaos. I realize Cesar Milan is known as “The Dog Whisperer” but I tell ya, his tricks seem to work for a 13 month-old toddler as well.

Discipline is so much more than simply punishing a child for their wrongdoing. I say more than anything, disciplining a child is the behavior training that prevents a kid from thinking they are the one in charge.

Am I letting my power of the role as “the calm-assertive pack leader” go to my head? Probably, but this whole Cesar Milan thing really works.

Honestly, it feels good as the dad to have another solid role in parenting. One of the most challenging things as a dad has been the fact that I have often not known instinctively want to do.

For over a year, I have had to ask my wife how to do… on nearly everything when it comes to raising a baby. I can learn, sure. But I wasn’t really, by default, in charge of anything. I like being in charge every once in a while.

It’s becoming pretty clear to me that I am getting to become much more active in my role as the calm-assertive pack leader. Seriously, now my wife asks me to rock Jack to sleep for his naps because I am effective thanks to the strong yet positive vibes he picks up from me.

I knew all this testosterone had to be good for somethin’.

P.S. Thanks Cesar!

Image: An obedient dog balances, via Shutterstock.

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Brainwashing Versus Successfully Influencing a Child

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Ten months.

What’s the difference between a parent brainwashing their child versus successfully influencing them? After all, a child will ultimately grow up and make up their own mind when it comes to stuff like moral issues and relevance of religious faith. Yet it would be unwise to discount the impressions made on a child by an involved and encouraging parent.

Brainwashing carries a connotation of something forced and militant. That’s obviously not how I aim to influence my child. Instead, it’s a matter of making what’s normal and accepted to us as parents, normal and accepted to him.

My strategy is to simply raise my son in the way I know as right, so that when he is older, he won’t depart from it. My son Jack was born into a specifically Christian household. His exposure to our family’s religious beliefs won’t be presented as a respectable suggestion, but as reality and actual history.

But I can’t make him believe anything for the rest of his life; nor would I want to. As his dad, I can only influence him in ways that most other people will not be able.

What parts of our parental influence will really stick with him by the time he’s our age? I guess we’ll know when we’re sixty. But as for now, we’ll continue brainwashing influencing him in our quirky ways.

Unexpected Bonus!

On a related subject, I am giving away 5 copies of a brand new book called Sticky Faith, which specializes in giving parents everyday ideas to build lasting faith in their kids’ lives, specifically at key transitional stages (i.e. elementary, middle, high school, etc.).

Just be one of the first 5 people to leave a comment on this post, and within 60 minutes, send an email to nickshell1983@hotmail providing your name and address so the publisher will know where to send the books to.

UPDATE: Congrats to the winners of this free book!

J. Valentine from Pompton Lakes, NJ

S. Cruce from Fort Payne, AL

C. Williams from Cincinnati, Ohio

W. Pierson from Houston, Texas

G. Grey from Berlin, Germany

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