Mom and Buried was perusing a parenting website the other day and she came across some suggestions for ways to nip your toddler’s whining in the bud before it becomes a problem. (To quote Officer Jack Traven: Mister, we’re already there.) It made for some interesting reading.
I’m long on record with saying there’s no such thing as a parenting expert, so I don’t take most of those websites seriously. That said, there’s plenty of accumulated experience out there that can help guide you, especially if it’s your first rodeo, so there’s not need to dismiss every piece of advice out of hand. Just use your best judgment, and a little common sense, and you should be okay.
Unfortunately, the whole “common sense” thing seems to have been ignored by many so-called experts. Because after reading some of these websites, my only reaction is WTF?
Parenting is a sensitive business, especially when it comes to the most frustrating issues, which, for parents of toddlers, can be broken down into a few categories: sleeping, eating, pooping, communication and discipline.
Obviously, every parent will have a different threshold for WTF, and the examples below are merely my own. Yours may be different.
Let’s start with the expert tip that inspired this post.
When you have a toddler, “communication” is either a euphemism for your yelling or their whining. We’re working on cultivating the Parent Voice, which is becoming more and more necessary, but my son is already an expert whiner and is currently in the midst of a whinery tour, sampling every strain and variety available. Every single reaction is some kind of whine. Luckily, the aforementioned parenting website has a WTF solution for getting your kid to stop: whine back at him!
That’s right, the website my wife visited suggested that in order to defuse your child’s whine you should mimic it right back to his face, so they can see how unpleasant it is. If you think this sounds childish and bizarre, wait until you actually do it because it’s downright HILARIOUS. It’s also childish and bizarre and more than a little crazy and you’ll probably feel like an asshole when you’re done.
Sure, when I got up in his grill and threw down with my squeal, he stopped. His eyes glazed over and he fell silent as he retreated to his happy place in the face of his father’s traumatic attempt to humiliate him. Any parenting tactic that calls to mind Deliverance should not be peddled by “experts.”
This is a controversial one and thus a perfect test for your WTF meter. We Cried It Out and I know many of you will immediately go “WTF?” and think I’m a psychopathic baby hater, and that’s true, I do hate your baby. But I love mine, and CIO worked, and years later he and I and Mom and Buried are better off for it.
Personally, my WTF threshhold is crossed at Ferberizing. The Ferber method is basically CIO in stages: you let your kid wail a bit one day, a bit more the next, etc. But the WTF factor arose when I read this:
“Parents are instructed to pat and comfort their baby after each predetermined period of time, but not to pick up or feed their baby. This routine is called “progressive waiting.”
Which reads to me as: TAUNT YOUR BABY. Again: Deliverance.
No thanks, not for me. But hey, no judgment here: the sleep issue is a dicey one. Your WTF threshold may lie elsewhere.
I didn’t get this one off a website, I got it from my childhood. It’s the withholding method. “If you don’t eat your [whatever], you’re going straight to bed with no dinner!”
That’s all well and good for a ten-year-old. But toddlers are so stupid that they might engage in a hunger strike without knowing why or what a hunger strike is and let’s be honest they’ve probably never even heard of Temple of the Dog. If you continually put them to bed without eating, one of these days you might wake up with an Olsen twin, and not the normal-ish talented one. Plus, turning food into warfare doesn’t bode well for the kid’s health, physical or psychological, later on in life. Believe me; I can’t even smell zucchini without expecting my father to pop out of the shadows and waterboard me.
If there’s any situation in which giving in might be okay, I think it’s probably when you’re trying to make sure your kid eats enough to stay alive, even if it means a little more pizza and a little less brussels sprouts. Just don’t give him too much or you’ll end up on “Maury.”
Let’s leave the iPotty out of this. That’s not a technique, it’s an express train to hemorrhoids. I can see promising the kid some iPad time AFTER he does the deed, but tying bowel movements to rewards just seems weird to me.
Except just about EVERY potty-training technique is incentive-based. Which, when you think about it, is actually a much better approach than punishment- or fear-based techniques.
I’d rather my son wear diapers into his teens than develop some bizarre fear of the toilet. Better Cocoon than whatever bizarre movie there may or may not be about being scared of pooping. Human Centipede? The Help? Dreamcatcher? Ew.
So if the alternatives are shaming your kid into shitting or drugging you kid into deucing (which is actually fairly common), the incentive-based techniques are good with me. Carry on.
I’ve already pretty much written about my WTF threshold in regards to discipline, feel free to check it out here. (Hint: spanking doesn’t cross it.)
Everyone’s WTF-ometer is different, and so long as you’re not feeding your kids cigarettes or letting them scream until they puke or blasting Cannibal Corpse so you can’t hear them whining, I’m not gonna tell you you’re wrong. But if upon relating to me your most questionable methods you see my eyes raise a bit, you’ll know that inside I was thinking “what the fuck?!”