I don’t remember enough from psychology class to know to what degree humans are born with a sense of conscience. I do think it’s innate in mentally well people, though, to varying degrees, and at varying stages of socio-emotional development.
I do remember – and know very well from everyday experience – that young children are motivated by what they want, when they want it. The concept of delayed gratification is not one commonly associated with the young ‘uns.
At this young age, I think that consequences-based discipline is the most likely to be effective. “If you throw a toy, that toy is taken away.” Because not every infraction follows a logical cause-and-effect sequence, I have been employing the 1-2-3 Magic system of timeouts since the girls were roughly three.
That system works pretty well overall. The girls know they have a couple of chances to push buttons, but on the third strike, they earn themselves a timeout.
I like the structure of the methodology. It definitely helps keep my head in check, and I think it reinforces to the child that it’s her behavior that results in disciplinary action.
What’s been driving me batty lately is the girls doing silly things…things they have known since Day 1 are off-limits…and there are times when they do those things over and over and over again.
The best example is when they reach up on the countertops. They have traditionally been really respectful of that rule, but lately we have had numerous issues. It’s so frustrating. They KNOW that is wrong. And timeout after timeout hasn’t seemed to slow them (particularly one child whom I have deemed to have “octopus arms”).
Recently I started challenging the girls, “You are smart girls. You know what is right, and you know what is wrong. Do the RIGHT thing.”
When I see them start to reach for something, I’ll ask, “Are you doing the RIGHT thing?”
I feel like this is making them think about their actions…and I hope it is encouraging them to think beyond what they want, HERE and NOW, regardless of the consequence.
I’m ready for the conscience thing to kick in…please!!!