I wish that things were easier when it comes to discipline. I know I'm not alone when I say it's one of the toughest parts of raising a child. My five-year old seems to come up with new challenges for me as if it's a game (and sometimes I think she's winning). Now that she's in what they call "grande section" (the last class in pre-school, the equivalent to kindergarten), she thinks she herself is "grande" or big. And therefore she can make all the decisions at home. "C'est moi qui décide!" (It's me who decides) has become her new mantra.
In situations like these I tell her she's not the boss yet and that she'll have to finish all her schooling (as in high school!) before she can really call the shots. Sometimes this leads to a new crying fit because I dared to contradict her. Then there was that mega tantrum last week getting her to take her bath. She was lashing out at me physically through most of the bath and I even almost put her in the water fully-clothed.
And as if these new kindergarten age challenges weren't enough, it's often compounded by the continual lack of concensus between my husband and me. Five years into this parenting thing, we still don't seem to agree on the way to parent. I know we've broken about all the rules like, Thou shalt not criticize thy spouse's parenting style in front of thy child. But I do it, he does it, and I'm sure Juliette is getting quite the mixed signals.
Take last Sunday. Juliette was tapping her markers on the table and coyly saying it wasn't her. We said, obviously it is you, and please stop. But she continued and just as I was about to tap her on the shoulder and tell her to stop, Remi raised his voice louder than a drill sergeant telling off his new recruits. Juliette started bawling and thus ensued an argument between the parents about just how far one should go in terms of shouting.
It seems we can't find that magical compromise in terms of discipline. Though young French parents are decidedly more open-minded than their parents' generation, I get the impression sometimes that the old "children should be seen, not heard" idea is still prevalent here.
But after talking to some of my students who are also daddies, I've gotten some advice. One told me about a book he and his wife use from the Super Nanny series. This exists in Britain, too, and they have a website full of great articles. I ordered the book in French in hopes that hubby will give it a glance. Another says he and his wife try not to disagree with each other on discipline tactics in front of the children. I don't know if I can keep to this one, but I'll try!
I know my little girl is good down deep and capapble of great sweetness. Call her headstrong, call her stubborn, but I must stick with my gentle but firm approach and hope for the best.