Last post, we were left hanging with the question, ‘If not spanking, what else?’  So, without further ado, here are stories which explain the EFCC technique…

Early Start (E)

Sometime during the late second half of her infanthood, and after many weeks of relentless striving, my daughter finally earned her independence. I mean without assistance, she could finally get on all fours and crawl where she wanted, when she wanted.

Interestingly, one of her favourite bus stops happened to be a drawer which played host to all our old newspapers. Now unfortunately, this drawer was without a safety latch (story for another day), so when not closely supervised, my daughter had unrestricted access to the papers it housed. Hence, as expected, it wasn’t long before these papers became her favourite destination toys. Invariably this meant that I had to perpetually be on my toes, waiting to stop her if she dared to make the ‘forbidden’ move.

So, whenever my daughter speedily approached the drawer, I was there to redirect her path with a simple but firm ‘no’ which initially appeared ineffective considering the fact that she always seemed to return back to the drawer. But then, a time soon came when I noticed a change. Whenever at the drawer, my mere presence was enough to actually make her jump in guilt and hurriedly terminate her pursuit. Yayyy!!! Surely, these were welcome signs that my weeks of corrections were finally paying off. Then eventually, not too long after, without warning, I realized that she had surprisingly given up the newspaper chase and redirected her passions elsewhere.

Now, some may argue that the drawer and its content had simply run its course. But I believe that it was my corrections that deterred her before these ‘forbidden’ trips became a die-hard habit, difficult to unlearn.

You see, the truth is that despite the limited reasoning and communication abilities possessed by children at that early stage in life, as moms our body language and voice tones still speak the volumes that are relevant in teaching them a tiny bit of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. However note that at this late infant stage, corrective teachings shouldn’t be about shouting, ranting, beating or going aggressive because really, these little tots are not necessarily trying to be naughty. They are simply exploring their world, within their limited understanding.

Hence what is imperative is that we guide them and where necessary, redirect them as they pick up on early behavioural habits and attitudes. We do this by giving voice to our voices (through body language, voice tones, corrective actions and simple phrases) so that as they get older and develop stronger wills, they would have already formed positive, disciplined routines and started learning all about rules and obedience. This in return is likely to give us less negative habits to deal with tomorrow.

Firmness (F)

When my infant became a toddler, her personality began to shine through the many activities she got engaged in and really for me, this was a welcome development.

That is, until she began to use the bubbly, adorable side of her personality as a ploy in getting her way. Let me explain.

There was this day I had to scold her about a certain matter. So determined to play the disciplinarian role to the letter, I pulled out my stern face and made room for my no-nonsense voice. First, she guiltily averted her eyes from my glaring gaze.

But then, somewhere in-between my rantings, she grew on a bold streak and dared to return my gaze. Undeterred, I kept staring and tried to give my gaze more depth so that my message of displeasure wasn’t missed. However before I knew it, my daughter broke into this cute, broad smile that soon gave way to a series of bubbly giggles that were released in adorable bits and pieces. This wasn’t the first time she was doing this. So, determined to stay firm this time around, I tried holding back until I felt like I would burst. Then, I laughed too and again, no lesson was learnt.

There were other times when she used the ‘crying’ tactic in getting her way. Unfortunately as with the ‘giggly’ ploy, I gave in to them and again, no lesson was learnt.

However, tired of the growing number of failed lessons, I decided to change. So the other day, we happened to be in the supermarket and as usual, she was intent on leaving with a biscuit which happened to be outside our shopping budget. Immediately I saw the biscuit, three red flags went up. First, she had just eaten about an hour ago so surely, she couldn’t claim hunger. Second, even if she was hungry, biscuit wasn’t the answer. Third, at home she had enough goodies to get her through a few more weeks. So unlike before, I quickly said ‘no’. Then as expected, she protested.

But staying determined and remaining firm, I picked her up to control her outburst. She was far from happy as she continued her protest. However, surprisingly, it didn’t take long before the biscuit became long forgotten history when we walked by an attractive, giant-sized Santa Clause with a trumpet in hand.

With the shopping experience, I realized that even without the threat of a cane, once a kid sees that mommy is serious and would never go back on her word, he/she will quickly let go of the whining and crying and instead, engross him/herself in one of the many other distractions out there. Reality is that kids will always try their luck again and again. It is up to us to stay firm, refusing to go back on our words. Eventually they will learn that mommy’s ‘no’ is ‘no’ and there’s no point trying to change it.

So with this in mind, I also carried my firmness into the scolding sessions as well. Therefore now, during/after a scolding, instead of a mischievous, naughty laugh, what I get is a slow, apologetic wave of hand which is her own way of saying ‘sorry mommy’. 

(To be continued)

(Picture courtesy: mybrownbaby, gettyimages, 123rf, hunterchaseagency)