Discipline

Now that Nellie is getting older, it’s becoming clear to me that the not-so-fun part of parenthood is approaching and becoming more necessary:

Discipline. The “no” word. We’ve been telling Nellie “no” for a while now; when she crawls toward the cat food dish or tries to pull DVDs out from our towers. She understands what it means, and for the most part she stops what she is doing when a stern, “No!” leaves our lips. Sometimes it takes a few instances of us removing her little hand from whatever temptation it’s reaching for to get the message but ultimately, she gets it.

Except when it comes to her damn sippy cup.

When Nellie eats, she gets a sippy of either milk or juice. She will drink from her straw sippy like a big girl and when she’s done with the sippy, she puts her hand on it and sweeps it away like it offends her with its’ very presence. She casts it to the floor and then leans over to watch it fall. It’s both hilarious and infuriating. At first it was like, 95% hilarious and 5% infuriating but as time went on, it became about 5% hilarious and 95% infuriating. I understand that she’s learning “cause and effect” and all that but for the love of god. I’ll have my back turned doing something else and I’ll hear the sippy cup scraping across the high chair tray. I’ll get, “Nellie, N-” out of my lips before I realize it’s too late and the cup has already reached its’ destination on the floor. Nellie looks at me, expressionless, before breaking out into a big grin and I know that she knows exactly what she’s doing.

So when does discipline come in, and what’s the best form? The way I see it, I have a few options. I can:

  • Sternly say, “No throwing!”. I’ve actually done this before, and it usually elicits a grin or a laugh. Great.
  • Pick up the cup without a reaction at all. No smile, no words, just pick the cup up and place it back on the tray with no expression on my face at all. I have heard that this can be effective because kids strive to get a reaction – any reaction – at this age and giving them one only encourages the behavior.
  • Put the cup on her tray, say “no!” and lightly slap her hand. I’m not opposed to occasional spanking or hand-slapping in some circumstances but my gut’s telling me maybe she’s a bit young for this.
  • Not retrieve the cup at all, making her realize that throwing does not equal it coming back. If you throw it away, you obviously don’t want it. But is she old enough to put two and two together and realize that if it goes away it won’t come back?
  • Secure a bungee cord to her high chair tray, loop the other end around the sippy cup, and laugh victoriously as she throws the cup and realizes that it’s not going to reach the floor. Mommy wins!
  • Sell her to gypsies.

I’m inclined to just go straight for the gypsy route, but I guess I’d end up missing her and then it’d be really hard to get her back.

In all seriousness, I’m really at a loss here. I know that Nellie isn’t too young to understand “no”, because she acts appropriately when told in other circumstances. But she’s just not getting the “no throwing” thing. What say you, readers? What is the most effective way to teach a 1 year old that tossing their sippy cup (or anything, really) on the floor isn’t acceptable behavior? What worked best for you? Do you know any friendly gypsy families looking for a small, curly-headed baby to complete their band?