Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mommy, Look at That Dog!!

It started with a trip to the grocery store. While I waited for the cashier to ring up my items, a mother behind me was delivering a soliloquy (only she didn't recognize it as such!).

"Suzy, you're not going to take that home."
"Suzy, you can carry that around but I'm not buying that."
"Suzy, you've been naughty. Why should I buy that for you?"
"Suzy, put that away. I'm not paying for it."
"Suzy, everyone is looking at how much trouble you're causing."

And on and on and on...

I was so thankful when the cashier gave me my total. I was tired of this woman blathering on and I don't have to live with her! Poor Suzy. She is being trained to ignore her Mother. The more Mom talks, the less she hears.

Mom needs to learn rule number one:

Less Talk, More Action

Remember the Peanuts cartoons? When one of the adults spoke, all the kids heard was "wonkwonkwonkwonk". The more you lecture, threaten, warn, count to 3, etc... the less your child listens. Stop diluting your effectiveness as a parent with these non-actions. Use natural consequences as often as possible, and deliver the consequence calmly and swiftly. For example:

If your two year old won't stop running into the street, clearly explain to her that if she does it, she will be taken inside for the day. Then, when she does it (and she will, of course, cute little Scientist that she is!), calmly and without fanfare, escort her inside. Don't give her warnings or "another chance".

Toddlers and young kids don't understand an abstract concept like getting hit by a car... something they've never seen, felt or tasted. So talking about it until you're blue in the face is unlikely to do any good.

But what they DO understand is cause and effect. "If I do "X", then Mommy does "X"....EVERY TIME. Even young babies learn this. Ever noticed how excited your baby gets right before you feed him? He's learned that when you hold him a certain way, food is forthcoming. Our kids are smarter than we think sometimes.

Another example: Two siblings are fighting about a toy. Don't waste your time trying to figure out who is in the wrong, it's virtually impossible and just encourages tattling. The children will learn how to work out their own negotiations if involving the parent means unpleasantness. The toy is put up for a period of time. End of story. Toy squabbles will dramatically decrease almost magically!

Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No Mean No

Do what you say you will do. If you tell your child that acting up in the grocery store means no cookie from the bakery at the end of the trip, MEAN it. I'll never forget the look on my 2 year old daughter's face as she watched her brothers eat huge chocolate chip cookies while she went empty handed! Few things impress a young child more than you holding to your words, calmly and without a lot of emotion (that just makes you look like an idiot). Children don't respect you if you are always swinging back and forth like a pendulum. Decide what's important to you and expect those limits to be respected.

This rule makes parenting so much easier because your kids will stop testing you so much, which is just their way of saying "Do you really mean it?".

The flip side of this is that when you promise something positive, you had better make good on it! If you do this, your children will learn that you mean what you say.

{Originally posted on SaltLakeCityMommies}


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