The Dawleys

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's Twilight at the Dawley Household

Yes, our sweet little girl is biting! The first time Ella bit me, I was absolutely shocked. We have taken great care to parent Ella in a responsive and loving manner in all situations so I was shocked to feel those little teeth pierce my skin. If all she's known is love and responsiveness, I didn't understand how can she know to bite especially since she is not in daycare. Because let's be honest -had she still been in daycare, I would have totally blamed it on that.
I have thought a lot about Ella's biting lately. I mean, the bruises on my arms don't exactly let me forget about it! After reading the toddler chapter in the Dr. Sears Discipline Book (a book I highly recommend that deals with disciplining the attached child in a gentle way), I was able to put this all in perspective and realize that I am not failing as a mother. The book made me feel better by saying that a lot of the annoying behaviors at this age are just phases and children outgrow them without the parent really needing to worry.
The more Ella bites, the more I realize that they are like love bites! They happen when Ella crawls into my lap to hug me or give me a kiss, which is really just opening her mouth wide and slobbering on me. :) She likes to bury her face into my shoulder and bite as she's hugging me. So for now, I tell her in a firm voice, "Owie. No biting. That hurts Mommy!" and give her a sad face. Then I give her a toy she can bite. Here's hoping this little phase will pass quickly!
This current issue we have has caused me to think ahead to the coming years and read about Gentle Discipline. Caring for an infant was so easy for me. I trusted my instincts and ignored what most books, pediatricians, and other people had to say because I am the expert on my own daughter after all. As we move away from this easy infant stage though, my confidence is a little shaky. I want to keep that strong attachment we have achieved this past year, and I know that I want to parent Ella in a way that allows her to learn from her mistakes, validates her feelings, and never makes her feel fearful or intimidated. I think this will generally be easy if I continue to listen to my intuition, but let's face it. A lot of negative behaviors in children can bring about negative feelings in adults. Feelings of frustration or even anger can cause parents to react in ways that are less than ideal for a child such as spanking or yelling. Because those behaviors are based on instinct and reacting first, thinking later, I want to know how to avoid them. I have found some great resources on Gentle Discipline:

Dr. Sears Discipline Book
Gentle Christian Mothers
The Parent Vortex
The Natural Child Project

So whether it's biting at one, temper tantrums at four, or back-talking at thirteen, I want to always make sure that Ella is treated with compassion, respect, and understanding.

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