The Enforcer

The Enforcer...it sounds like a pro wrestler, right?  Actually, it's my new nickname for Mackenzie. 


She is so funny right now, repeating everything we say.  Even if the words don't come out right, she has the tone perfected.  In the bathtub tonight, I kept telling Addison, "No, no, no", and shaking my finger at her for letting the water out of the tub.  Mackenzie, my little helper, mimicked everything I did...down to shaking her own finger and saying "no, no, noooo" to her sister.  (Addison blocked us both out completely, by the way.)

It was pretty freaking cute, until I had to pop Addison's hand because she would not stop draining the water.  What did my little enforcer do?  She started hitting Addison's back!  Oops...

This scenario actually brings up a problem I have been going over in my head for quite sometime.  How exactly am I going to discipline these girls??


The way I see it, there are a few general methods of discipline at this age:  spanking, time-outs, and redirection are the main three that come to mind for me.  I am not necessarily opposed to any of these methods in theory, but I'm not sure what is going to work for our family either.  Discipline, like so many other parenting decisions, is definitely a personal family choice.  What works for one family may not suffice for another.

I have tried a very basic form of time-outs on occasion with the girls.  Last weekend, when Mackenzie was pushing Addison down in the front yard (!), I made Mackenzie sit beside me on the ground for a minute or so.  Eventually, she stopped pushing Addison and  moved on to scooping handfuls of mulch out of the flower beds...so I guess it was really a combination time-out/redirection.  At this stage, I think that's the method I lean toward most often.  Sometimes it works better than others, and as they get a little bigger and can better understand some simple reasoning, I will do more of the time-out, with an explanation of why they're having to sit out.

At times, though, distraction or time-outs are just NOT going to work.  Those are the times I tend to turn to spanking (in the form of a light swat on the hand or leg, or sometimes a pinch on the inner leg).  When they are touching something they are not supposed to be (the stove!), or when they have repeatedly been told to stop doing something (usually getting in the dvd cabinet), I use the swat or pinch to make it clear that it has to stop. 

However, the incident in the tub tonight reinforced my hesitancy to use spanking at this young stage for the girls.  I know that with two toddlers, hitting and fighting between themselves is going to be an issue at times.  How do I teach them that it's not okay to hit, if I'm spanking them to reinforce it??  The experts say that whatever you do, just be consistent, which we am not doing very well.  I have sort of been picking a method on a case-by-case basis, varying according to the situation, and I think that will probably continue until we figure out what works best for the girls (and us).  Maybe I won't warp them too badly before we figure it out!  : )

What works for your family?  Have you figured out your method of discipline yet?  I am especially curious about discipline if you have young toddlers, or what you did when your kids were this age.

Please share, and rest assured.... I think there is a pretty non-judgmental group of readers here, so don't be afraid to tell us what works for you!

sleepy heads


  1. I think when the girls were that age, we did start with time-outs. We've always been pretty consistent with time-outs and why they get them. They are put in the pack-n-play that is in an extra room. I can't believe they don't crawl out of it really. But they stay in there for 2 minutes now, or until they stop crying. We also do swat on the butt if they don't listen after we told them 5000 times, but didn't start that until they could understand what it was, and why they got it. I get ya on the "we can't hit, so why are you hitting" but I feel like at my girls age now, they can get that difference...I never thought I would be spanker. But sometimes, I feel it's necessary.

    PS-if anyone attacks me for saying I spank sometimes, please take this down okay? I don't want to fight about it!!

  2. Ok-I completely need help on this subject as well!! We are in the exact same place- not consitent on our methods alternating between time out, re-direction or spanking as the situation deems. I agree that with some situations, it's just easier to re-direct than make a big issue of it, and some are serious enough that you want to discipline {spank} to be sure that they understand that you're serious and that you need them to stop.
    I agree that I am not opposed to spanking, but the only advice I can offer is to try to determine what is the best method for each child. What works for one, may not work for another {which I guess could bring up a whole other set of issues.} We had to use time-out with Luke rather than spanking. We would spank him and it never seemed to prevent the bad behavior, it was like he didn't care. When we went to time out and he was put in the corner at the end of the hall away from all of us, the toys, etc- then he started to understand why we were upset and stopped the behavior that led to time out. I have also seen that time out works better for Abby. I do think that time out - away from toys, other children , etc- does work better for more social children, since they love to be where the action is and will stop the bad behavior to prevent being removed from it again.
    We are also starting to see hitting between the twins if I Mostly if it's a fight between them both and one ends up getting in trouble- then the one that got in trouble will go and hit the other one- starting a whole new problem. So I see the "I can hit, but you can't" problem coming up here too.
    I would love to hear some suggestions on what whorked for other parents- especially other parents of multiples, since discipline with them often come with unique circumstances and issues.

  3. We have a couple methods. When the girls are simply throwing tantrums over the smallest of things, they go upstairs and cry it out on their beds until they can behave- for our most stubborn of girls 15-30 mins. We used time outs for a while when they were younger, a spot in the corner not near any of the major playing areas. We set a timer for 2 mins. This was less effective, because we'd have to deal with keeping the other twin away from the one in timeout.
    For the really egregious crimes- such as sister on sister violence- hitting, biting, etc. That got a spank right out of the gate. Zero tolerance for that one.
    It's so hard to punish just one. They are so connected that the other one gets wrapped up in the drama, and makes it all a little bit worse. (ugh) We have a strict "no bossing, no sassing" rule. Mommy and Daddys can boss. Girls can not. (so they're not always bossing each other around) And no sassing means any tone of voice or attitude that I don't like.
    We do the reward system as well with a big jar, and good behavior earns "pretties" when the jar is full- which still has yet to happen, they get a really big treat. (I'm thinking a dinner out with just Mommy or maybe even a trip to the beach!)

  4. They're so darn cute! We tried the hand spanking thing too, but it backfired and they would slap each other, so now I just squeeze their hands. I've tried time-out a few times, but they don't really seem to get much from it, but like you said, it works great for a redirection. Best of luck to BOTH of us ;)

  5. Just thought I'd add that my twin sister and I fought physically until we graduated high school, so I'm guessing that we'll be dealing with this for quite some time! JOY :)

  6. D and I are trying to figure this discipline thing out too and I'm afraid we're nowhere near to even agreeing on a method let alone being consistent.

    I keep checking back to see more comments but now I'll subscribe :)

  7. We started doing time outs with Jo & Vi around 20 months. Eventually, they get it and change their behavior. Discipline is hard.

    The enforcer, I am still cracking up over this one.

  8. Your girls are such cutie pies! Melody was our enforcer at that age.

    I think the first thing you have right it that what works varies from family to family. We quickly learned that it also varies from child to child. There were times where Jess was thankful for time outs!

    Lucas and I are big believers in natural consequences. Throw a toy? You lose the toy. Hit Sissy? Sissy gets to play with Mommy and you have to play alone. Refuse to eat? You feel hungry.

    Time outs work at our house too. Instead of having an assigned time out spot, I'd lay out a towel next to the wall and have that be the time out location. What's great about this technique is that you can put the girls in time out anywhere - even in the aisle at a store!

    Lucas spanks for disrespect and willful misbehaviour. I do not. I used to use spanking for life-and-limb offenses, like running out into the street, but I'm happy to report that we don't have those to contend with any more.

  9. arg. i was just thinking about this today when T kept ripping off the protective foam from the fireplace while looking at me. he did it all.day.long. i started to get palpitations thinking about how we are going to punish them. now we do redirection and distraction. maybe we could start time outs?? i am just not sure they would stay anywhere!!


Thanks for commenting! I love to respond by email, so make sure yours is connected with your profile. : )