Discipline and saying No. Sometimes it’s the hardest word

Nope. No. No! No is LM’s favourite word at the moment. She says it all the time. Do you want to get out of the buggy? No. Shall we go outside? No. Anytime she isn’t happy with something, No! It’s such a satisfying and easy little word for her to use to assert her will until her language overall improves. But this isn’t really a post about her saying no, it’s about me saying no. And how hard saying that simple word can be, but how important it is that I do.

Let me start of by saying that in terms of being a ‘perfect’ parent, I know I am nowhere near. I get things wrong, I say the wrong thing. I can be lazy and irritable and I have apologised to my children more than once for being cross with them for no good reason (and I’m sure I will have to do so many more times). But on the whole I think we are doing an OK job of it. We have a very polite and friendly 4 year old who is well behaved at school and who people always compliment. We have a 2 yr old, who lets face it is 2 so kicks off and has tantrums but is also lovely and is learning. I know some of this is luck but some of it isn’t. Some of it is down us and to the hard work we’ve put in.

I hope this doesn’t come off as arrogant as that’s not how I feel but I am proud of us and the way we are raising our kids. And I’m proud of me. I am a SAHM so this is what I do. I can’t get a promotion or a pay rise or be patted on the back by a boss and told ‘well done.’ But I hope I can acknowledge that I have had the strongest role in raising my kids and can take pride in the people they are turning out to be.

I hope I can do that as it is so hard sometimes to stick to my guns. To be the bad guy and tell them not to do things. I don’t do any of it for my benefit you see, I do it for theirs.

We know a family, and this may sound horrible and judgey, but their son’s behaviour is terrible sometimes. He runs over the back of sofas without being told not to. He is rude to old people who pass by, screams when he doesn’t get it own way and doesn’t do as his parents ask. He’s 7. Now don’t get me wrong I’m all for live and let live with parenting and how anyone does it is utterly their choice. Except that getting to know this family a little has made me feel a bit sorry for the child. He doesn’t have many friends at school or outside. I’ve spoken to other parents who don’t want their children playing with him and some children don’t like playing with him because of the way he behaves, and I can’t help feeling that it isn’t really his fault.

Like it or not we live as a small part in a big society and our society has cultural norms. Socially accepted behaviour. Our kids aren’t born knowing this. They don’t automatically know what to do in a given situation and it is our job as their parents to guide them through this. And sometimes this means being the bad guy so that we can be the good guy in the long run.

I don’t get it right every time. I’ve given in when I should have been firmer and I’ve been firmer than was absolutely necessary at times too. Sometimes I say no without thinking it through and then have to be very careful because if I seem to give in to their demands it can set a precedent and give them the wrong message. They have to know that I mean what I say and that no does mean no. So sometimes I have to stick to a no that I regret but I feel I have to stick to it. I try very hard to avoid this happening though as it is no fun for anyone.

Sometimes even when I know I am in the right about something it can be hard sticking to it. Hard to deal with the tantrum when the easy option would be to have let them do what they want. I hate seeing my children upset when I could be the one to fix it and especially when it feel like I’m the one who has caused the upset.

I could have an easier time in the short term but whenever I have made this mistake it only leads to worse tantrums or worst behaviour in the long run. Giving an extra biscuit may make them happy now but then leads to a tantrum at mealtime, refusing to eat their dinner then being tired and grumpy all evening or even the next day. So I may be a bit strict sometimes but my hope is that by giving them boundaries and expecting certain things of them, that it will help our children to be kind and polite, to be children others like and want to play with. To be children who are respectful of others and know the difference between right and wrong.

Maybe I am wrong though. I hope I’m not doing my children a disservice. I certainly don’t want to be too strict and shut down their own personality. I also don’t want them to grow up to be walked over. I want them to be strong but to be good and kind too. I guess all any of us can ever do is hope we are making the right choices for our kids!

I suppose I’m thinking about this a lot for a couple of reasons. 1 being LM reaching an age where she needs me to say no, to give her boundaries. 2 year olds do a lot of experimenting and they need to know what is ok. For example drinking out of my cup is ok, but then deliberately slowly dribbling it all out again is not. Taking a toy that is offered to you is ok, snatching is not. You get the gist.

I think Monkey starting school and socialising with different kids also plays a part though. That and his tiredness from school makes him act up sometimes.. and he has copied some behaviour he has seen other kids do. That’s always a tricky one as how to explain that it’s not OK when he sees other kids to get away with it?

Parenting is a never ending learning experience don’t you find? It’s also tricky to talk about these things as we obviously all have different experiences and think differently about things, so I hope I don’t offend anyone with what I write!

What do you think about saying no?

The Reading Residence

Little Miss or Little Madam?

Our little miss is a feisty one. Always has been and being completely honest I actually think for girls, and children in general, a bit of feistiness is a good thing. I want my children to grow into strong adults and not be doormats. It makes it hard work as a parent but still I am glad my kids are a bit feisty.

Lately though LM’s feistiness has stepped up and ooh she is being a real little madam. In truth I am finding her quite hard to deal with at times right now. She’s in a funny transitionary phase. She doesn’t have many words but understands everything and knows what she wants. She just can’t communicate that to us so there are LOTS of tantrums rooted in frustration. I know this is the root cause but that still doesn’t make it easy to cope with the screaming.

She has always been an incredibly loud child and the volume and pitch of her screaming and whining when she can’t get a toy to do what she wants it to, or if she doesn’t get her way in general is just insane. And I am finding that it well and truly grates on my nerves!

20160727_130913She’s always being so so wilful. She is a really bossy britches and constantly demands things. She comes and takes my hand and pulls me where she wants to go. She stands waving at me to follow her, shouting her “err-ow” sound at the top of her lungs until I acquiesce. And when I don’t acquiesce, oh my goodness the volume of the tantrum. There are times I do what she wants simply so I avoid the aftermath… But other times I just don’t. Sometimes she presents me with shoes and tries to drag me out of the house. At 6.30 am I’m sorry darling but it’s just not happening.

I don’t generally take pictures of tantrums a) because I’m usually stressed b) because I don’t want to somehow encourage it by taking a picture and c) because I don’t like my picture taken when I’m upset so it feels a bit mean. But, this tantrum amused me because of her sticking her legs in the air, so I did take a picture on this occasion!20160727_100853

She is pushing my buttons all the time. She throws things and hits things when she is frustrated and when I tell her not to do something she deliberately ignores me and does it again and again until I remove her from the situation. And then tries to return kicking and screaming.

Food is a huge sticking point at the moment too as she is beyond fussy and just refuses to eat almost anything, even things we know she likes. I try not to worry, to make sure she doesn’t have snacks too late before mealtimes and trying to do what I can but I just feel I can’t win. The result is that she is even grumpier and screams more than normal because she is hungry… But she still refuses to eat. We worry that it is her teeth or something so offer her something else to eat but then she eats so it is more like fussiness than anything else. In which case we don’t want to keep giving her what she wants as that will limit her diet and set a precedent she will expect. It is so frustrating and I feel at my wits end at times when she refuses food I know she likes. It even got to a point where I take photos of happy mealtimes as they feel so rare. How daft is that? PhotoGrid_1469698821371

For her life until now distraction has been pretty good at moving her on from any tantrums and upsets.. But now that very often just won’t wash with her. It is time for some stronger discipline.

I know it is just her age and I also know she needs some firmer boundaries to help her make sense of the world. I know it isn’t for everyone but we found the naughty spot technique from Jo frost, aka Supernanny, worked really well with Monkey. I don’t agree with everything she says but that definitely worked with him. I wanted to wait until LM had more words before starting more discipline with her but the truth is that it is time now. I hope it works with her as it did with her brother but they are such different characters so we will have to see.

The trouble is that her behaviour is just so draining and feels almost impossible to deal with! She can also be the loveliest happiest, sweet, kind little thing too… So I really hope this phase doesn’t last too long!20160719_131356

Are your children feisty? How do you deal with discipline?

Blurring Behavioural Boundaries

I may have mentioned (once or twice ;)) that Monkey has been poorly over the last few weeks. When your little one is poorly and just not themself it is impossible to be as firm about some issues as you would normally be. When they are irrationally upset about everything because they don’t feel well, there are some things that just aren’t worth pushing.

WP_20150224_11_23_51_ProYou see their forlorn little face and you would do anything to make them happy and you certainly don’t want them to be more upset, so you relax some of the boundaries a little. You want to eat on the sofa? Ok darling. You want to wear your PJs all day? Ok sweet pea. You want to drink more milk (the 10th cup that day)? Of course my darling. You got loads of toys out but now want to cuddle back on the sofa as you don’t feel well? Don’t worry. You don’t want to have a bath tonight? Ok my love.

It makes sense, obviously there are some things that are never ok, but then there are things that aren’t that important. That aren’t worth causing any more upset. There are some things they are only doing because they are poorly and so little and don’t understand what is wrong with them. Your nurturing instincts kick in and you snuggle and coddle and reassure our little darlings until they feel better…

The problem is though, strengthening those boundaries again when they are well. Or rather when to start again. Where do you draw the line? How do you know they are 100% better? Or, more to the point, how do you know whether they are still poorly, or whether they are trying to pull a fast one? Toddlers are clever little mites and if you give them an inch they will take a mile and once they recognise they can get away with a little more because they are poorly they are bound to take advantage.

We have the same struggle with discipline whenever Monkey has been poorly and we have been a bit softer with him. Because he is a fussy eater and we struggle with food with him at times, food is one area where we do soften the rules when he is poorly. We still try to keep him eating healthily and keep up with his faves such as veggie burgers, but with a reduced appetite you can’t help being pleased that they are eating anything. So there has been many more occasions where he has eaten cheese on toast, or peanut butter on crackerbread (he loves the stuff) instead of something more substantial. Because he needs to keep his strength up and is just not in the right frame of mind to be persuaded to eat things he is less sure of.

But we are all too aware that we can’t let this go on for long, otherwise it undoes all of our hard work to keep mealtimes happy and we end with battlegrounds over food again. Like I say though, the trouble is knowing when to start enforcing the normal rules again. While he has been poorly we haven’t always enforced the rule aboout eating at the table, or the rule about not drinking milk right before dinner time (as he will happily survive on milk in the evening and won’t touch dinner if he has milk) as we know he needs something inside him to avoid meltdowns and keep his strength up. But there comes a time when we have to enforce these rules again.

No use crying over a cup of milk...

No use crying over a cup of milk…

We decided to enforce them one day last week, and in hindsight it was a day too early. I won’t go into details but it descended into carnage with our boy wailing and crying so much and both hubs and I eating cold dinners by the time we had calmed him down and done what we never do – we backed down and gave up on the naughty spot (for the first time ever it just didn’t work and was chaos) and gave him what he wanted. A cup of milk. He didn’t eat his dinner and we felt thoroughly dejected and miserable  that
a) we had enforced the rules too early and he had overreacted massively which meant that
b) we had to go back on what we said and give in, which feels totally wrong. We felt like terrible parents just getting it so wrong.

I remember watching supernanny before I had kids and scoffing, thinking the mistakes of the parents were so obvious and avoidable. Little did I know how hard the reality actually was! But sometimes I think to myself “what would supernanny say?” because I can see in us the parents I had happily scoffed at back in the day. Sometimes though I don’t know what she would say. Would she say  “Well of course it didn’t work, he’s not very well” or would she say “You should have persisted, you can’t give up!”

The less we enforce discipline in general, the worse Monkey’s behaviour gets. We aren’t massively strict or anything but he actually reacts really well to boundaries in general and is for the most part a good boy, but a bit of laxity from us and his behaviour can descend quite rapidly.

The day after the cup of milk incident we saw the evidence of our mistake. Monkey hit me. Not hard, but in our house, hitting is not acceptable, under any circumstances. Not by accident, not in jest, just not acceptable. I told him off, explained that hitting is wrong and threatened the naughty spot if he did it again. We are very much in the “Why” zone with him at the moment and he said “Why not?” and hit me again. I had to be firm on this so put him on the naughty spot and after only a couple of tries he did stay put and it did work. The difference a day makes as he was definitely feeling more himself again and it showed. He cried and kicked off but accepted the naughty spot and apologised afterwards.

It was a turning point and he has been a lot better behaved since. Not all the time, obviously, and we have our moments but although we have threatened the naughty spot a few times we haven’t had to use it again. So I guess our relaxing of the rules, and our mistake and failed naughty spot attempt haven’t caused any problems long term. He is back to himself and the boundaries have been restored. Will he test them again? Of course. Will we go through all of this again next time he is poorly? Without a doubt. We will keep learning at this parenting lark and maybe one day we will know what we are doing without everything being a bit trial and error!

Do you relax the boundaries when your little one is ill? Do they ever try and take advantage?

And then the fun began...

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Supernanny’s book and the Dawn of Discipline

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We knew this day would come, but it would seem that the terrible twos have arrived. I’ll be honest I don’t think he is actually that terrible but there is definitely an edge to his behaviour lately that we haven’t seen before. The tantrums are worse than before and there is some serious defiance going on – so it is definitely time for some firmer discipline.

But what discipline? We are not fans of smacking, it just isn’t for us. I have blogged recently about Monkey’s love of counting, so counting to 3 in the hopes he stops before I reach 3 failed miserably the once I tried it as he then just started off counting on his fingers!

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Word of the Week – Testing

That’s right this week has been


It didn’t get off to the best of starts with the terrifying ordeal that was Saturday Night, and unfortunately the stress and worry and lack of sleep has leached over and affected the rest of the week.

Despite minimal sleep on Saturday after our ambulance trip to the hospital we still had work to do on Sunday. Monkey was out of danger and we had hired some heavy duty (and costly) equipment for the garden renovation and we knew that work had to go on despite our tiredness so that we didn’t waste the money. It was positive and a lot has been achieved – more on that next week, but the exhaustion has permeated our week.

And let’s face it, when you’re tired, everything feels more difficult.

Monkey has really been testing me this week. He is becoming defiant and obstropulous at times. Normally I know I would cope with it better but when I am tired and not feeling myself, I find it harder to deal with. We have been lucky with him so far and other than firm “Nos” and explaining why he can’t do something, we haven’t had to venture into the realm of discipline. But I think we may be approaching something along the lines of the naughty step, because he just doesn’t listen and needs to understand that there are consequences if he disobeys or refuses to listen to mummy or daddy. no fun and we will see how we go, not making rash decisions, but we knew this day would come.

I’m also feeling, pretty selfishly, that I need a break. With all the work on the garden over the last month, all of Monkey’s care has fallen onto me as Hubby has had a lot to do in the garden. I understand and it’s been fine but I feel like I need a break. I know I’m lucky with how much hubby helps out with him normally, and not sure what it says about me as a mother that I am struggling, but I am struggling and I need a bit more help. Thankfully though we have a quiet weekend planned and hubby is very much looking forward to spending a bit more time with Monkey, phew!

We’ve also been a bit tested by other matters this week. The tenants are moving out of the flat I used to live in before I met hubby, and we’ve just found out that they have led it get damp and mouldy which is a real pain. I lived there for years with no damp, but in the two years they have lived there this is the second time. I don’t understand to be honest but I guess it’s a good thing they are moving out.

We were thinking that we would like to sell the flat rather than rent it out again, as I hate it hanging over our heads, but now we are not sure that is going to happen yet. It is leasehold and we’ve found the deeds and realised that there is only 61 years left on the lease, which basically means it’s hard for anyone to get a mortgage on it. To extend the lease is a process that takes 6 months – a year and costs in our case, wait for it, about £15,000. Yup £15,000. Which we don’t exactly have, just lying around. But it needs to be done as the costs will only increase as the remaining lease decreases. So we need to get tenants in there again after all while we get the process started.

We are hoping that we can add the costs onto the existing mortgage of the flat as otherwise we don’t know how we are going to finance it, and hopefully we can then recoup some of the costs when we do sell it, whenever that may be.

We just don’t need the hassle, to be honest. it’s just a pain but then life is like that, it’s not easy and there’s never a good time for something like this to crop up. It is a bit of a testing time and puts a strain on things. I got really cross with hubby yesterday, like fuming mad for no real reason other than over-tiredness, stress and frustration.

I like to think I am a positive person but I am struggling to find the positives this week. Here’s hoping next week is better. What word sums up your week? Hope it’s happier than mine!!

The Reading Residence