I'm a little lost when hear a friend say that they had a difficult time disciplining their child...not that they couldn't do it or didn't know what to do but that they didn't want to do it. Unfortunately (or thankfully-depending on how you look at it) for my children, we don't have that problem. It doesn't break our hearts to send our sweet angels to time out...throw out their toys...restrict them from TV or take away whatever thing they have most recently fallen in love with when they're being anything but sweet angels.
*Let me clarify...we do not discipline the 4 month old...I write "they" more out of habit because it's "they" now instead of just him and also because I fully expect the princess will get the same exact level of discipline that her big brother has come to know...though tactics may have to be adjusted based on personality*
It might sound odd given what you've read so far but I wouldn't necessarily call my husband and I strict. Pizza for breakfast from time to time-according to public schools it counts as healthy food now, the boy playing loudly while his sister sleeps-he's three and she has adapted well, not having a formal bedtime-they're stay-at-home kids who can (and hopefully will) sleep as late as they want...none of that will be the death of society. However, the rules we have are absolute. There is no breaking them. They all revolve around respect. Respect our family, Joshua and I's authority, others' belongings and bodies and we'll be great. Our children are being raised with the idea that there will not be a 3-2-1 count down. What we say to do is what we expect to happen. First time. Every time.
When that doesn't happen-when we don't have first time obedience, there's a consequence. It doesn't have to be big but it does have to happen every time. So far, it's been great. The older the boy gets, the less we've had to discipline him because he's learning that what we say, we mean. We're proving ourselves to him just as he's proving himself to us. There was a time when time out was a daily occurrence-sometimes multiple times a day, now it's closer to once or twice a week and we've had to adjust. We started with time out as a place to sit and get control of himself but the boy's a people watcher. He's content to sit for hours just watching the world go bye so we changed the time out location to "find a corner." It's the same concept of separate yourself from the situation, get control of yourself and miss a little bit of playtime. Of course, at home he knows what corners are readily available in each room but I have to admit it's kind of funny when we're at a friend's house or shopping and a time out is necessary. There's always a moment after I say "find a corner" where the boy is lost and has an "oh man, where do I go now" look.
Putting the sometimes humorous search for a corner aside, we like disciplining our children. We don't find anything about it to be heartbreaking. I wouldn't be heartbroken if my son learned any other new skill...when he started to crawl, we celebrated...when he walked, we celebrated more...when he spoke, we were ecstatic. Our joy at his learning didn't stop just because he fell or misspoke unless he was physically hurt from a fall but even then, it was a lesson. Besides, he's not physically harmed with discipline (spanking doesn't work for us-no judgement, just our choice) and in the end, being self-disciplined is just another skill that takes time to learn and we're happy to teach our children the lessons they need to grow.