I remember my mom saying that she and my dad never really had to discipline me very much when I was growing up. All it took was “The Look” from Mom, or Dad raising one eyebrow (not both), and I turned it around. She said the very worst torture for me was one of them saying, “Mandy, I’m disappointed in you.”
I’ve been working to perfect “The Look” for several years now, making faces at myself in the mirror while I dried my hair in the mornings. And I practiced using a good stern tone (which from this point on will be referred to as "The Tone") with our cats.
I guess I was hoping that these foreboding gestures would do the trick with our girls, too…that through some beautiful stroke of luck and heredity, they would be born with naturally obedient hearts.
I’m beginning to have my doubts...
It wasn’t wholly planned, but I’ve adopted the phrase, “That is not nice!” (usually said in “The Tone”, in conjunction with “The Look”). And I’m quite certain that the girls understand what’s “not nice”.
When they see a ripped page in a book, they’ll volunteer, “Not nice!” in a very serious voice (at least as serious as a precious little 21-month old voice can muster).
When they begin to try to pilfer behind the entertainment center (a big no-no), they’ll turn around to me (sometimes mid-pilfer!) and confirm their behavior is “Not nice!” too.
I feel good that I’m delivering a consistent message about what is “not nice” in the world of A and B. What apparently is lacking is a sense that "not nice" is, in fact, not good.
I guess it’s time to put a little muscle (i.e. a timeout structure) behind it.
But I won’t drop “The Look” and “The Tone”…no, I worked too hard in their development not to continue to put them to good use.