Thursday, February 01, 2007

Obedience Training Update

Here's an update on how the obedience training is going with the boys. I have been correcting Griffin every time he does something wrong, and I make sure he knows the reason I am getting after him. Sometimes this means a spanking, if it is something like hitting Sammy or picking on the cats or the dog, or directly disobeying something I tell him to do -- for example, I tell him to "Stop jumping on the couch, please" and he looks at me defiantly and jumps a few more times, just to make a point. I don't just let it go or act like I didn't see it or tell him again to "Stop it!!!". I respond immediately and he knows that I will respond the first time, so the bad behavior isn't happening nearly as often. I don't just jump right in and spank unless he is hurting someone else, and even then I sit down and explain what he did wrong before I give him the spanking, and three small swats usually is enough to make him regret what he did.

Other times it just means sitting down with him and talking to him about why something is wrong. He is still learning what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, and I understand that. But sometimes he just constantly wants to test the limits -- we have some days where it seems like all I do is correct him all day long! -- and he does things that I haven't specifically told him not to do (removing the vent covers from all of the vents on the main floor wasn't in our list of house rules), but that he knows he shouldn't do. This happens a lot when we are in a store or at someone else's house, church, the gym, etc. He thinks the rules might have changed, so he will test the limits at each new place we go.

I know this stage won't last forever (it should only take a few weeks or maybe a couple of months), and I try to remember that fact when it seems like I am punishing him for the thirtieth time that day for smacking Sammy or running into him and knocking him over just to make him cry. Of course, my mom also pointed out to me that I need to teach Sammy not to constantly be in Griffin's business. Sammy just loves his brother and wants to be doing whatever he is all the time. So I'll be working with Sammy on his "independent play" skills. :)

When I first started this "intense training", I thought that I shouldn't have to follow him around all day long and constantly tell him not to do things, but how else is he supposed to learn what is acceptable and what is not? A 2-year-old's sense of reason isn't fully developed. I used to think that he should be able to figure out by himself that if something he did was going to make a mess or cause an accident, he shouldn't start doing it in the first place. I was wrong!

Something I have learned is that if I don't tell him not to climb up on the coffee table, then I shouldn't get mad at him if one day there is a cup of coffee sitting on it and he climbs up and accidentally knocks it over. If I have let him climb up there in the past, and there has been no punishment, and maybe we even laughed because it was cute, and then one time he climbs up there and there happens to be an accident, it is no one's fault but my own for not teaching him to climb up there in the first place. I have had to re-teach him in a lot of areas that were acceptable, but now are not because they could cause an accident at some point.

If an accident does happen, I do not punish him for it. This was a totally new concept to me. I had always just reacted to things he did, and if something spilled or broke or got messed up, I got mad. But this is the opposite of what needed to happen. If I teach him that something is not acceptable, and he does it, and then an accident happens, I punish him for the thing he did wrong, not for the accident. Accidents are just that -- accidents. It is my job to make sure his behavior won't cause an accident. Sure, it takes a lot more time on my part, but that's what being a mom is all about. I am there to guide, teach, and correct. Someday soon he will be able to reason for himself, and then he won't be under my "wing" quite so much, but for now it is up to me to teach my boys right from wrong.

That's all for now. Sesame Street is over and it's time for "workbook time". Griffin learns a new Bible verse every week and we get to read stories and do fun activities. Then we'll make lunch and Daddy will come home to eat with us. It's going to be a good day!

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