A crap mum’s 5 top tips

First, the disclaimer: I find being a parent hard. It doesn’t come easily and I seem to be a slow learner. My kids are nearly 6 and nearly 8 and here are the top tips I wish I’d been quicker to learn:

1. Chocolate is heroin. We managed to keep our eldest unaware of the existence of chocolate and sugary stuff ’til he was about two – and he now likes a wide range of pretty healthy foods. The youngest had sweets much, much younger (by then his elder brother had them occasionally) and if given the choice, little one would now live on a diet of chocolate, sweets and ice- cream.

2. You have to teach them stuff. I know this must sound very dim, but I thought kids would just sort of pick up how to wipe their bottoms, do up buttons, use a knife and fork, tie their shoelaces… I now realise these are things that actually require a bit training.

3. Get them drinking early. Pre-school, establish habit of drinking plenty of water in the early part of the day – because once they go to school you’ve no control. So mine now come home thirsty, drink gallons before bed, and we are in bed-wetting hell.

4. Only threaten consequences you can carry out. The whole thing about bad consequences for bad behaviour and good consequences for good behaviour is great – and works. BUT not if you slip up and make a threat you can’t keep (like cancelling the holiday, throwing a much-loved toy in the bin etc). Next time they won’t believe you, and it takes ages to regain their belief in what you say.

5. They will actually do what you say. If you use the right tone of voice and expression. Be too smiley, vague, or – let’s admit it – pleading in your tone, and they won’t think you’re serious. It’s even easier, if you’re asking them to do something that’s part of a well-established routine, whether it’s washing hands before meals, going to bed, or greeting and saying goodbye to people properly. I’m no Gina Ford, but my boys find it so much easier to comply if they’re expecting the request.

Any suggestions from faster learners, much appreciated!

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2 Responses to A crap mum’s 5 top tips

  1. Chris Holt says:

    Thanks Linda -brilliant! I am going to practise this immediately and will report back!
    C x

  2. linda taylor says:

    Dear Chris,
    Re the discipline,
    You probably know the following but thought I’d share it anyway in case any of it is useful.
    I’m not a parent but was a teacher of big, big, (sometimes scary) boys.
    On one of our training days which was specifically about discipline/classroom management we were given a really good tip which does actually work most of the time, with most normal kids, which is: DON’T MOVE YOUR HEAD when talking to the child. In fact keep the whole body still, but particularly the head.

    Keeping still can be surprisingly difficult especially when you’re cross or in a hurry and want something done NOW! Head and body waggling is something we do naturally when agitated but it makes us look weak apparently.

    We were told that when you’re trying to get kids to stop misbehaving or do something they don’t want to do etc. you should look directly at them without actually glaring, don’t smile, just maintain a calm, direct gaze and keep the whole body still while you wait for the message to sink in. The idea is to convey your of expectation of co-operation but in a forceful but non-threatening way.

    The trainer who told us this demonstrated it very effectively more than once on members of staff, (not me I might say.)
    He (the trainer) had an incredibly strong presence as a teacher but was actually a surprisingly small, non threatening individual.

    Also, I used to find that giving the child/ teenager time to co-operate and allowing them to feel that they had a bit of choice in the matter helped. Giving an instruction then turning away or actually leaving them alone by going to another part of the room and doing something else often worked rather than standing over them. It seems that they like to feel they have made the decision to comply.
    Of course this approach won’t work if they truly believe they really have the choice not to do whatever it is you want.
    It’s also not recommended if they have their fingers in the electrical socket or are dismembering a sibling.

    Hope this helps,
    Linda

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