Over the last 9 years I have read many books and articles on parenting. Spend maaaaany hours googling and spoke to many mothers about parenting and parenting strategies (or tricks to get the little monsters to behave). And over the years I have used some of these tricks. Unfortunately I cannot credit any of them to particular people, methods or books because my memory doesn’t work that way. These tips are really good when I actually have enough self-control to use them.
I used to be better at sticking to these methods but have lately been lax. So I am trying to put all of these in one place where I can remember them and get back to using them with B as he’s in the lovely stage of defying every single thing anyone asks him to do or not to do. Lovely.
You can cry, just not here
Now all kids have tantrums, mine are no exception. They are just not allowed to do it in the same room I am in. If they start crying because they want something (or because I have said no about something) I tell them they don’t have to stop, they just can’t do it here. When they were younger I would carry them out of the room. Now they either stop because its a waste of their time or they leave the room for a few minutes and come back in all fine and dandy. Of course the trick is trying to stop the tantrum before it happens but that level of intuition is one I reach rarely. I usually have the other 3 kids climbing all over me which hinders my concentration just a tiny bit. Sometimes the crying is too much so I say “I’m leaving the room because the crying is hurting my head. When you’re finished you can come call me” So B spend another few seconds wailing loudly then stops, comes and says “I’ve stopped crying now”. Other times I get “I can’t stop crying!” shouted at me between sobs. “Why?” I ask. “because I caaaaaaan’t”. But eventually every time he stops and calms down when he realises he’s not getting anywhere with it.
I’m sorry? What did you say?
My son S used to be great at face crying. This usually started out as a real cry and then he tries to prolong it with exaggerated intakes of breath or a squeaky quivering voice. He has long since stopped doing that. J, on the other hand, was the queen of whining. She could whine your little ears off and keep going for ages. They have since grown out of it and now it’s B’s turn. He speaks in a high-pitched, oh the world is ending and it’s all so horrible, type of a voice. All of these high-pitched sounds annoy me to no end and so the way I deal with them is by saying “Sorry? What did you say? I don’t understand you when you speak like that sweetie you need to speak up”. If you say this genuinely they have no choice but to speak properly because they want to be heard. Some times it takes one or two tries for them to speak legibly. And sometimes you have to be content with a little less whining. Always follow-up with “Aaaah ok. I didn’t understand you before but now I can when you speak clearly” to drive the point home.
Hand in hand
One of my biggest parenting dilemmas is when my children come to me with a “he did” “she did” situation. I wasn’t there so I don’t know what really happened. after the millionth time of getting into a situation like “He hit me!” and going to shout at “he” then to have him tell me “it’s because she was sitting on me and refused to get off” then I go to her and she says “It’s because he snatched the toy away and wouldn’t give it back” so on so forth, I had enough. I read somewhere about a mother who made her children sit and hold hands till they made up. It was brilliant! They have to just sit there an either talk about it or not talk at all or what ever but they cannot let go of the others hand until they have made up. 9 times out of 10 they are in fits of giggles within minutes and the problem is solved. Other times S is sitting there pouring his heart out explaining to J why he is angry and J is ignoring him. On these days it takes longer. Last week I heard S say to J just laugh and she’ll let us go! So maybe 9/10 is about the age limit to this one.
Get the older one to do it
Now that I have 4 children each around 3 years apart I discovered something quite by mistake really. We were having lunch in a restaurant and my toddler kept stuffing HUGE fork fulls of salad into his mouth. I asked him not to and he said “NO!” then I said “you don’t say no to mama it’s rude” so he said (you guessed it) “NO!” then I said “B if you say no one more time you will have to go home!” Which was NOT what I wanted to have to do as we hadn’t had our main course yet. It’s one thing to say that at the end of the meal and another before the food arrives. And it was good food. Anyway, thankfully at that point J (who is 6 I remind you) stepped in and said “B, you shouldn’t eat your salad like that. You have to cut it into little pieces like I am doing because if you put big pieces in your mouth they will get stuck in your throat and give you a big wawa” (thankfully she didn’t say “and you’ll die” which is what I thought she would say). To my surprise he listened to every word she said then started eating little pieces! For what ever reason, maybe she explained it better, he listened to her and not to me. I tried this tactic in other situations and it worked! When he was having a meltdown at school it was his older brother who calmed him down and took him to class. When baby K was refusing to eat it was J who got him to have the whole bowl of what ever mush we made for him that day. Sometimes they just need to hear it from someone else. I can totally see myself making S and J raise B and K from now on. What fun! The best part of this is when the two older ones echo rules and insights I have been repeating to them over the years and I realise that they were actually listening. Well anyone within a mile radius was listening because most of these things were said very loudly most of the time.
Well, I can at least claim rights for the last point as I discovered it all by my self. This is what I have for you so far. I imagined I would have more for you but that is all I can think of right now! There are so many that I would love to be implementing but I would be lying if I told you I did. For example; my daughter always has a million and one questions to ask before she sleeps. So I read somewhere once that a good idea is to make little cards out of paper and she could ask one question per card. So if you give 3 cards she asks 3 questions and when the cards are up the questions have to stop. I tried it once and it worked but then we lost the cards and bedtime got hectic etc. the usual.
Any usual or inventive parenting tips you could give? Would love to hear it!