I would say that my children are ‘reasonably’ well behaved. Most of the time. What I really struggle with is the whining and the squabbling. The constant asking for stuff, even when I’ve said ‘no’. The fighting over small things, like who gets to hold the door key, who gets to go first or who gets to sit where. The worst for me is my 5 year old crying when things weren’t going his way. I’m not talking about when he hurt himself or something was actually wrong. That “time to turn the telly off now”…wail, “no, you can’t have an ice cream now”…wail. It drives me nuts.
Hmm, when I put it like that, it doesn’t seem that they are particularly well behaved. Perhaps I just didn’t know what to do about it. It felt like they were well behaved. We used the ‘time out step’ for when they were ‘naughty’. But small things like whinging and whining didn’t seem to merit the severity of the time out step. And we do like a good reward chart, but I have to confess I'm quite lazy with them.
It can be really tiring when you have to constantly respond to children. That constant asking for more, pushing it a little further, a little further, until suddenly steam is coming out of your ears. OK, so not all the time but I could see it happen.
I think it was difficult for my husband too who in all honesty would probably be more strict than me. I think I have more patience with the children, I let things wash over me more. Which led to conflict in our parenting approach. We ‘agreed’ in paper. We’d had chats when we agreed what our strategy would be (i.e. how we were going to work the time out step.) In the field, differences crept up on us. He would get cross with the children for the constant poking, the messing around, the not-stopping. And I would get upset with him for getting cross. Not exactly singing from the same song sheet.
I ordered ‘1, 2 ,3, Magic’ because a friend recommended it to me. It’s still early days. I’ve read it and we’ve started to implement the magic and I’m so impressed.
The most magical part to me is the stopping bad behaviour. That’s any bad behaviour, not just really bad behaviour. Anything that annoys you as a parent. My husband is in high heaven. Whinge. Stop. Moan. Stop. Back chat. Stop. Fighting. Stop.
In a way, it’s quite similar to the time out step. You count to 3 instead of just one warning. No emotion, no chat back. Don’t engage in conversation (at least not whilst you’re doing the discipling bit.) When they reach the count of 3, they go to time out, pretty much like the time out step. They’re allowed to have time out in their room rather than on the step.
I’m not sure why, but it really seems to be working for us. Perhaps it’s a combination of things. Finding a method that you trust is empowering. You don’t feel like your control is being eroded. Perhaps it’s allowed me to draw the line in the sand closer to ‘well behaved’ than before. Perhaps that’s because I don’t feel so mean sending them to their room. Perhaps it’s the ‘no emotion, no talking’ rule. There have been times when I’ve caught myself explaining to them….I can see the answers flying back. I stop. And so do the answers.
He says that you should look at discipling small children like training small animals. I like that. And I agree. Even when kids ‘understand’ something, it doesn’t stop them from doing it. Get into good habits at an early age and you’ll have them for life. That doesn’t mean you can’t explain things to them. Of course you can, just not at the same time as you’re training them out of their bad behaviour.
And you know what? When the whinging, the whinging, the complaining stops, there's more time for having fun!
It’s a great book. I highly recommend it and wish that I’d found it a year ago. I hope that we carry on on such a great track (although he does warn that some children get worse before they get better.) I’ll do another post if a few months to let you know how we’re going.
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