It seems like only yesterday I was trying to teach my toddler to use his potty.
After a few false starts, at two-and-a-half years old he finally mastered the art of going to the toilet.
This morning, he went one better and crapped in his cereal cup. The look on his face suggests he was proud as punch. I was less so.
My initial reaction was disgust, but this soon gave way to mixed emotions. I wanted to get cross with him, because pooing in one’s cereal container is really not the done thing. But on the other hand, I couldn’t help but admire his dexterity. Hitting the toilet bowl is one thing, but curling one out in a cup? That requires some skill – especially if you’re a three-year-old.
I decided to go ahead and berate him, partly because I’d been up all night with a teething 18-month-old so was feeling a bit mardy, but mainly because I figured if I didn’t do the ‘stern’ thing he’d think it was OK to carry on crapping in the crockery.
It’s not the first time I’ve been torn over whether to praise Eric or tell him off.
I remember the first time I found him in the kitchen, sitting on the counter next to the hob, with an open box of cereal in his hand. He was about 14-months-old and could barely talk, yet he’d managed to push a chair through from the living room and use it to climb up, first on top of the washing basket and then up to the kitchen counter.
This magnificent feat of engineering then allowed him to pull the Rice Krispies from the overhead cupboards. I thought it was ingenious. A tad dangerous, too. So did it deserve a telling off?
Likewise, when Eric recently presented me and the other half with a handle from the reception room door, we were at first baffled. It turns out he’d removed it using his toy screwdriver. We were amazed – particularly as my partner has yet to work out how a screwdriver works, and he’s 40. But should we tell our toddler it was naughty, or praise his fine motor skills?
I’ve not read enough parenting books to understand the different approaches to discipline. In fact, I’ve not read any parenting books, but that’s more down to a lack of time and organisation on my part than anything else.
I have, however, done the odd Google search on the subject – usually along the lines of “why does my toddler not listen to me”, or “how can I stop my son from having a paddy during an important family meal”.
From my limited research, it would appear I’m on the fence between parent-led parenting (-is that even a term??-) and child-led; my partner is to the left of parent-led.
I can’t say which approach is best, because Eric tends to ignore both of us.
I’d be keen to know what approach you take to discipline, if any; please get in touch or leave a comment below. In the meantime, if you have any DIY you need help with I have a willing toddler who’s a dab hand at removing door handles.