In the comments section to the discipline post, I wrote the following and thought it was important enough to publish as a regular post as it clarifies the original one:
There's no question we want/plan to provide structure and discipline for Quinn. The question is HOW. One of Quinn's therapists once wrote in a report that he requires "literally thousands" of repetitions to learn something. This is true. He does not yet say "mama", and only about a month ago indicated that he knew what "mama" meant by looking in my direction when someone said "Where's mama?" So many discipline techniques require a higher level of cognitive ability and understanding of communication than Quinn yet demonstrates. He is about 2.5, but is cognitively around 1 year old. I don't think many 1-year-olds have chores yet! Even having Quinn help pick up his own blocks requires constant supervision and reminding - i.e. sitting right next to him, putting the block in his hand and saying "put in" and offering praise for EACH block. We've been doing this for many months, and we're still at the one-block-at-a-time stage. I know his abilities will increase, and I see the development every day. But regardless, figuring out effective strategies for teaching him anything, including discipline, is very hard.
So tonight Quinn was a little outta control at our dinner out (at 5 PM, eaten quickly, as all dinners out must be), and in the car on the way home, we started wondering if and how we should provide some discipline when we think Quinn is exhibiting behaviors we think he knows are inappropriate (but we don't know for sure what he knows, cause there's that whole talking thing that isn't happening much yet). We're not yellers and certainly not ever hitters. I'd say we're reasoners, but given his cognitive abilities, well, probably talking it out won't work, at least not yet. So we mostly opt for distraction. Tonight I pulled many fun items out of the swiss army diaper bag, and when those were all exhausted, I let him jump (literally, as in standing and jumping) on my lap while I tried to eat with one hand, a skill I perfected in his first year of life when he weighed considerably less and could not stand. Hey, at least he wasn't crying and I did actually eat.
I've read that permissive parenting styles are not associated with good outcomes, but I'm afraid we're pretty permissive with Quinn, since we don't really know what else to do. We can already see we will have to change our ways as he slowly but surely begins to act like an actual toddler. But without good communication, how will we do it? Any books or workshops you can recommend?
I posted a couple of weeks ago that I was starting a new job. It's started, and I absolutely love it. There is a learning curve, and the logistics of childcare, etc are a bit more complex now because of the longer commute and occasional evening hours, but I am so much happier that even though I am exhausted, I don't really mind. This is making me think that some of my prior work-life balance angst was about not loving what I was doing all day; ironically my last job was less pressure, but I felt more stressed.
Even though work is busy, I'm still having fun with my little guy. We go to Petco pretty much every day after work to see the fishies and birds, and I think today he said "aga" which I think meant "again" when I was reading "Goodnight Moon" for the 5,000,000,000th time this afternoon, and he seemed very happy when I responded "Yes, okay, again!" and went for a 5,000,000,001th reading. I love how much Quinn LOVES the things he is into - Goodnight Moon, the pet store, milk. His joy is pretty infectious.
returned your phone call replied to your email filled out your form gotten back to you about that thing commented on your status dealt with that thing sent you that information run that test written that check wrote that thank you note cleaned up that thing set up that computer contributed to that cause returned that favor attended that event found a time to get together visited you updated that blog replied to that comment run that errand talked with you resolved that dispute paid that bill investigated that thing researched that opportunity responded to that inquiry gotten ready for that event
Trust me, it's not because I'm lolling around peeling grapes for my spouse. The slog is hard hard hard and so many things get the knife. To do otherwise courts rage and insanity. I ask your understanding in this difficult time.