Jennifer (smileypv) wrote in parenting,

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How do I discipline my 2.5 year old son?

My son Jackson is 2.5 years old. He's slightly speech-delayed, still using one- and sometimes two-word phrases, but behind where he should be for his age. We are at a loss for the best way to discipline him. We tried spanking a few times (only in certain situations, such as continual defiance or in situations where he could hurt himself or someone else), but that only elicited an aggressive response from Jackson, such as hitting us or the wall or the ground, as if to let off his anger or frustration at being spanked. My husband and I decided that was not a good outcome from that sort of discipline so we wanted to try something different.

We have tried two different approaches: time-outs and sending him to his room. The time-outs have not worked yet, because all he wants to do is get up and does not seem to understand that he's being punished. I put him in his room and put the gate up to keep him in there until he's done with his temper tantrum that inevitably results from being told not to do something. That tantrum results in screaming at a decibel level that we are sure shatters glass and then either hitting me (not very hard) or hitting something else or stomping. I put him in his room until he calms down; sometimes his reaction is to cry and sometimes he continues screaming or slamming his door until he quiets down. I follow everything up with an explanation of what he did that necessitated the punishment and then a reminder about what he needs to do (listen to me or his father, don't scream, don't hit).

The thing is, though, I'm not quite sure he understands what it means to be punished. With that in mind, it's making me doubt how we discipline him. He is so well-behaved at school that he seems to test us instead of his teacher. When we're out and about, we have a harder time disciplining him. If he doesn't want to sit in his highchair at a restaurant, then we usually have to buckle him in and then hope that he stops screaming after a couple of times; food sometimes will quiet him down. My husband and I are fairly laid back people and are not comfortable with corporal punishment, especially after seeing Jackson's reaction to being spanked. He is our first child and I am not sure what to expect from him in terms of maturity level at this point. I wonder how much the fact that he's not able to communicate as well as some of his peers factors into this. If he doesn't want to do something, he lets you know and, short of making him do it yourself (like physically making him do it), he simply will continue doing what he wants to do until you remove him from the situation. I can't take him to get a haircut because he will not sit still long enough to have the stylist cut his hair. I am at a loss as to how to get him to understand what I need him to do, especially when it comes to discipline.

Any ideas? I'm turning to you guys for suggestions because we have exhausted all of the ideas that we have gotten from others! Thanks!
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