The boys have been fighting a lot. The most frequent scenario plays out as follows:
Bear settles to play peacefully with trains.
Fox marches over and takes a train.
Bear shouts "'Oxy!! Oxy!! Oxy!!" and snatches the train back.
Mum carries Fox to the other end of the house.
Repeat from the top.
Fox settles to peacefully to read a book.
Bear marches over the takes the book.
Fox squeals and tries to snatch it back.
Mum disciplines Bear.
Repeat from the top.
Peace hasn't been lasting very long lately! I don't believe the fighting is the core of the problem. But it is the fighting that has finally moved me to action!
1. Baby gate
At times the boys need their own space and their own things. The gate helps me keep them apart. It is a removable gate. It's not up all the time.
There was a vague separation of their things between two areas already. Fox was spending more time close to me near the kitchen/study. Bear was usually further away.
Both areas have plenty of shelves, an appropriately sized table and chair, plenty of space on the floor and a comfortable place for me to sit and join in. I have deliberately separated their things now. All the work that is specifically for Fox is together. All the work that is specifically for Bear is in his area.
On Bear's side of the gate he has access to the bathroom, his bedroom and he can let himself outside to play as he wishes. Fox's area is smaller and much more limited which is perfect for him.
2. Proper baby proofing for Fox
Fox is at a stage where he is very curious and very capable of exploring. He can open doors, drawers and cupboards. He can climb. He can unpack anything. He loves to do these things. He is able to get into all sorts of trouble and he relishes it!
For him to be safe and have freedom in his environment it really needs to be properly baby-proofed. It wasn't before. It is now! All the doors, drawers and cupboards he is not allowed to have access to are baby proofed. He can't access potties, toilets, rolls of toilet paper, kitty litter or cat food.
This means complete freedom for him to explore and play without being interrupted. It also means peace of mind for me.
3. Child specific materials
As I rearranged the shelves separating out their toys I realised how few materials were specific for one or the other. There were especially few that were for Bear. I think I had been trying to choose toys that would appeal to both of them but they were actually appealing to neither.
With his own area Bear can have the work he is ready for that is not baby friendly - e.g. messy things, small things, sharp things, fragile things... and Fox can have the things that engage him but bore Bear.
Fox can learn to concentrate on his own work without being distracted or interrupted. His concentration and attention are so fragile. They are so easily broken.
Fox is fascinated and challenged by posting. I use yogurt containers with an assortment of holes for different levels of challenge. He posts things like dominos, balls, baby-food container lids, blocks, cotton wool. Anything really. At the moment he's posting paddle-pop sticks through a big hole - it's tricky but not frustrating.
Placing the ring on the posts of this toy requires Fox's full concentration. I made this toy for Bear when he was at the same stage with wood left-overs and serviette rings from an op-shop. It has been well loved.
Bear is so easy to engage at the moment. Some specific favourites are his train books and magazines, wooden train-set, matchbox vehicles, toy food and tongs and any activity outside.
They still play with each other a lot of the time and usually enjoy each others company. A little time apart helps them relax and concentrate. It helps us all feel peaceful and tolerant so we can make the most of our time together.
A good question,
A question posed by Myriam a while ago in response to my mention of the naughty chair in this post.
I have spent quite some time chewing it over and wondering how best to answer. The more I ruminate the more I realise I can't answer breifly. It's a complicated subject. I will try to give a worthy answer. I'll also try to be concise!
We have found discipline one of the most challenging parts of parenting. It has been a difficult experience to see the object of my love and affection, a little person I can't help but consider perfect in every way, choose to disobey. At times I see characteristics in him that are so unattractive - selfishness, laziness, greed, cruelty. I know these same characteristics exist in me. It is upsetting. It's sad and disappointing. I want to correct his character and fix him and make him sweet and kind and loving all the time. (I want that for myself too!)
We are Christians. Our approach to discipline is primarily shaped `by our understanding of God's instructions to parents in the bible and not by Montessori. We don't believe that any method of discipline or training of a child can repair their imperfect character. Only God can do that through Jesus Christ.
Thus our methods of discipline have followed our biblical framework. We have used all sorts of resources to come up with ideas. We watch families with obedient children and ask for advice. I have read lots of books. I have read lots of websites and blogs. We try out ideas that have been tested, seem wise, make sense and fit our framework. Some succeed and we keep using them. Some fail. We still struggle and constantly re-evaluate our methods.
The basic principles of our biblical framework are:
- human beings are not capable of perfect behaviour
- God's standard of perfection is uncompromising, ours should be too
- disobedience and rebellion need to have real consequences
- forgiveness is free through Jesus
- mercy and grace are unlimited
- love is unconditional
On a practical level we try to:
- give lots of meaningful work, independence and choice
- reinforce positive behaviour sincerely and straight away
- freely express love, affection and approval verbally and physically
- have developmentally appropriate expectations of behaviour
- have consistent expectations of behaviour
- give reasons for our expectations and rules
- give enough time for him to understand and obey
- look for a cause for disobedience and fix it
(e.g. hunger, full bladder, tiredness, sickness, boredom, lack of attention)
- administer punishments/consequences calmly and gently
The naughty chair is one of many tools we use.
Unfortunately Bear has inherited an unusual obstinance from his parents which at times requires particularly firm approaches. Very often he chooses to disobey clear and reasonable instructions and accept a punishment. When he is wilfully disobedient he spends 2 minutes on the naughty chair. We ask for an apology and a hug. Then all is forgiven. This process usually happens once per day. Sometimes more. Sometimes less.
Occasionally we give one smack on the hand or leg if disobedience is repeated or particularly offensive.
Occasionally we put him in his bedroom for longer than 2 minutes to cool down if things get very heated. This isn't supposed to be a punishment but it gives him a chance to reset and keeps everyone safe during his anger! There's usually a cause (like hunger, tiredness or sickness) when this happens.
I am not an expert!! I have been a parent for almost 3 years. I have been responsible for the discipline of 1 child. I have been a disobedient child myself. It is an intimidating task to mould another persons character. Especially since I am fully aware of the imperfection of my own character. I try not to do them harm. I will ask my children to forgive me for the mistakes I make and the harm I will inevitably do. Praise God that we don't do it alone!
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
I'm writing this post as I sit in my empty house pining for my three most precious people. I always underestimate how much it will hurt when we're apart. I can't stop picturing them driving 100km per hour away from me. They've only just left. I miss them already!!
Ranger has taken the boys to Sydney to visit his family. I need to stay here in Dubbo to work.
It's always bittersweet having an empty house. I miss them. But it's also nice to have a little rest from parenting toddlers. For instance it's nice to be back blogging for a change!
Driving for 6 hours with little children is hard. I always feel anxious preparing for a trip. We try to make the drive fun and fill it with lots of special things. We sing songs and tell jokes and stories. We chat about the things we can see and the things we're looking forward to. There is a lot of time to fill and it can be a challenge to keep things positive. I find being prepared helps.
I take some time a week or so before a long drive to think about the boys' favourite things and pack them away. I thought I'd share the things I packed for their drive. I've crammed as much love into this box as possible to send along with them!
For Bear at 2 years and 10 months
His two favourite train books. Bear is still obsessed with trains.
Colouring trains with textas and highlighters (Bear's favourite subject matter and favourite medium). Bear also enjoys opening and closing this type of systema box because he can do it by himself.
A cutting activity in another little box.
Chopping velcro food.
Some Duplo sets to build. Each set in a box that fits on Bear's lap with enough room to build and pack up. Yes - one of them is a train.
For Fox at 13 months
Some favourite books that are easy for him to read by himself.
A box with a lid that opens and closes in a frustration free way. Some plastic food to take out and put in (and most likely through on the floor).
An assortment of little things to fiddle with. Handed to him one by one. Wheels that turn. Doors that open and close. Lids go on and off or open and shut. Dominos go in and out. Some little animals to hold and talk to.
For both of them
Buttons, flashing lights and music. Some passive entertainment can buy another half hour of peace when everyone's exhausted. We also use a DVD player as a last resort. These measures can help us reach the next McDonalds without a melt down.
Their special comforters for quiet time and hopefully peaceful sleep.
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.