Mommy A to Z

Motherhood, Alphabetized.

D is for . . . Discipline (Or, The Day My Son Stopped Being Cute)


devilish photo4I remember that morning clearly. My kids were eating breakfast in the kitchen, and I was in the next room, rounding up some wayward toys and sippy cups. Suddenly, I heard my daughter shout, “Mommy, he broke your glasses!” Running into the kitchen, I realized that my 21-month-old son had grabbed my glasses off a nearby counter, and stretched the frame until it broke. Needless to say, I was not pleased.

Shortly after, I was preparing for the beach, frantically gathering sunblock and towels. Out of nowhere, my son grabbed a piece of “medical equipment” from my daughter’s Doc McStuffins’ bag, and proceeded to scratch the screen of our new LCD TV.

At that point, Mommy had an awakening.

My son was no longer a baby. He was no longer cute. He was a destructive force that was wrecking my home. If I didn’t do something soon, I was going to have to invest in toddler-damage insurance — protecting my apartment from a force more disastrous than nature. I had to face facts. I no longer had a sweet, innocent infant. It was time to begin holding my son to a higher standard.

It’s hard to pinpoint the moment your child makes that transition from adorable baby to willful little person. It can be hard to see them as a growing child when you’re carrying them in your arms, or they’re repeating a handful of monosyllables, or you’re changing your fourth diaper that morning. (I imagine the line is even blurrier for moms who nurse for an extended time.) That said, for me, there were signs I could no longer ignore that my son was developing into an evil genius:

  • Willful disregard for the law. At a certain point, I realized that my son understood everything we said to him. Yes, when told to get his sneakers he just sat there with a defiant smile and a villainous chuckle. But he looked at his sneakers first. He knew what was up.
  • Thirst for vengeance. When my son didn’t get his way, someone had to pay. From angry cries to writhing on the floor to pulling his sister’s hair, he let everyone know that he had an opinion — and he wasn’t afraid to express it. He wasn’t just hungry or in need of a diaper change. He was acting out.
  • Search and destroy. From broken glasses to broken toys to hundreds of diaper wipes torn from their packaging and scattered all over the floor, our home was beginning to look like we were regularly entertaining the Tasmanian Devil. Or housing a 1-year-old.
  • Going for the chair. Eventually, we started instituting time-outs. Suddenly, any mention of trouble resulted in my son immediately toddling over to his time-out chair and plopping his little butt down — all of his own accord. He was starting to connect crime and punishment, a sign that this discipline thing was starting to make an impression.

Disciplining a child under the age of two is challenging. Often, by the time they’re in time out, they’ve already forgotten their transgression, and are staring down a random marker on the floor, calculating the trajectory from floor to mouth. But the process has to begin somewhere, and for me, it was with a simple acknowledgment: I no longer had a baby — and, since he’s my youngest, I never would again. Yes, this admission was difficult. But sooner or later, you reach a point where you’re fed up. Where you can no longer live with a pint-size tornado (no matter how cute) tearing apart your home. My son sees a lot of his time-out chair these days. But he’s also developing an increased understanding of the rules of the land — even if at times he ignores them.

As with everything else in his development, we’re taking things one step at a time. In the meantime, I’m locking up my glasses.

* * *

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  1. I hear that a couple named Ray and Janay are looking to adopt a willful child in order to help them bond during a difficult time. This little fella sounds like a good candidate.


  2. When the timeouts don’t work, take away what is dearest to him-CHEESE!
    My daughter always fell asleep during timeouts. What a blessing!

  3. I’m so right there with you right now! My twenty month old is starting to wreak havoc. And she knows when she’s in trouble. And yes, people, especially her older brother, the poor middle child, pay when she’s been wronged. Or she thinks she’s been wronged. Great post!

  4. I feel this day may come sooner than age 11 for me haha

  5. Oy! My youngest is 7 and he is till a nightmare about listening and behaving. I blame it on second child syndrome LOL.

  6. I totally get where you’re coming from. My oldest is 5 and has recently started realizing that dishonesty and sneakiness is an option… not happy about it!!

  7. My son turned two only two days after I had my daughter. I swear I left for the hospital and he was a cute tiny baby, and I came home to a defiant toddler from hades. LOL Now my daughter is nearing two as well and I’m starting to see that little toddler monster raise it’s head in her now too. Glad to know I am not alone. And yep, I need to start raising the bar for both the kids. :)

    • Toddlers are crazy. But I actually think things get better around 2, because the communication improves. By three, my daughter had calmed down considerably. I’m really hoping my son does the same…Mommy is going nuts!

  8. This is so true! Some people think their kids can do no wrong, but they don’t see what will happen.

  9. It would appear my son and yours are kindred spirits! My daughter definitely tested the boundaries at this ages but there is something about bouncy boys that is so much more destructive. And reminsciment of primates for that matter! The only difference between mine and yours? I’m trying to get him to STOP getting his shoes. Typically before I’ve even started in on my first cup of coffee, he is screeching (think caged chimpanzee sounds) and trying to put his shoes on. After I help him, he has climbed into a stroller, and continues to insist on heading out. This kid spends the better part of the day in a diaper and either his sister’s his own, or when he can mange it, for brief periods, my shoes. :) This post was both reassuring and hilarious all rolled in one! Sharing it now!

    • What is with the screeching?! My son makes sounds I never thought possible! I love that your son is so shoe-centered. Lately my son has been trying to put on everyone’s shoes as well. It’s pretty cute, although makes leaving the house take a lot longer. Thanks for the comment and the share!

      • What. Is. With. The. Screeching? I love my son to bits, but his wild animalistic tendencies have me a bit baffled. Lol. You’re welcome and thanks for the great post <3

  10. I knew my youngest wasn’t a baby anymore when he climbed behind our entertainment center, when I was trying to get him out he shoved the back of the TV and it flew out the front onto the floor. He was mad that I was making him come out from his “fun” place.

  11. This has been a tough discipline week for us. Hands down my least favorite part of parenting 😉 (but just like the diapers and sleep deprivation it is worth it…)

  12. I remember far to well when my daughter turned on us. It’s

  13. Oops!! -it’s just a matter of time for my son to follow suit. Great post!

  14. This made me laugh. I thought it was rough when I had one of my kids in the terrible twos. Then I had twins. Somewhere God was laughing at me lol.

  15. Let me just say that I love this post! No matter how cute our kids are or how much we gush over them in our blogs or FB or whatever, the reality is they are going to misbehave and disobey ON PURPOSE. We can brag about how smart our kids are, but that smartness is going to be used for their own selfish purposes. They will have this mastered even before they master their language skills. Great reality post, Meredith!

  16. Aww, I laughed about him toddling over to the time out chair, hahaaha. I remember those days. :)

  17. I love the posts on disipline and children misbehaving, brings back memories to….umm just yesterday :)

  18. Aww, but aren’t they just too cute? It’s hard to stay angry for too long, especially after they learn the ‘I know I’m in trouble face’

  19. very enlightening and I hope new parents will read this and apply. grandparents are complaining children nowadays have no from of discipline!

  20. I know exactly what you mean! One moment they’re innocently doing stuff without thinking it through or realising consequences. They’re hungry. They cry. It’s very simple and you just have to do what you have to do.

    And then they have this gradual awakening. They have The Power and can Exert Their Will. It’s really hard to see the transition between the two!

  21. It’s amazing what little boys can do. Mine threw my cellphone in garbage and broke his father’s phone with touch screen by drawing in the screen too hard. Just few things he managed to permanently damage or get rid of.

  22. I have been through this twice before and now have a 15 month old. I know winter is coming.

  23. And this too shall pass we hope…. I’m impressed he’s started heading for the time out chair on his own. Smart kid!

  24. I am a first time mom and a mom to a toddler. My husband is the one who always giving me advice about being patient and keeping calm especially when it comes to my toddler’s behavior and attitude. He told me to be firm to my daughter but in a calm way. Building a foundation on discipline should start when they’re very young because it’s gonna be hard to do it when they’re over 5 years old.

    Mhar Mg

  25. Kids takes time to learn discipline. With constant approach and reinforcement, they will really get it. They need to see who’s the boss and the Parents should not let their kids take their place.

  26. But he looks so cute in those little devil horns!

  27. I am terrified for this day to come. Basically you hear about the terrible twos and the really even more terrible threes and that is a total of just two insane years! My daughter is almost 21 months old so we shall see!

  28. I am terrified of this stage! You hear about the terrible twos and the even more terrible threes and that’s two years! My daughter is almost 21 months so we shall see very soon.

  29. It is very hard to discipline a two year old. My toddler’s favorite word right now is “nope.”

  30. I didn’t have a toddler boy and wouldn’t know the difference from my girls, but my girls were not that hard to discipline. The issue changed when they got to grow older :-(

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