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

Terrible Threes? Or Unmindful Parenting?

You may have read that Monkey had the mother of all meltdowns the other week. I have been semi-joking that he is having terrible threes rather than twos because he is contrary, argumentative and testing his boundaries constantly. Driving hubs and I to distraction, and honestly it isn’t like him, yes he has his moments but on the whole he is a very sweet natured boy. We have been re-reading a couple of parenting books and thinking about rules and discipline while also wondering if we are just in another inevitable phase that will pass in its own time.

Then a couple of really interesting articles popped up in my feed (spooky timing really) and made me stop and think.

Is it a natural phase? Is it really terrible threes? Or are we at fault? Not in an I am going to beat myself up about it way, but are we making the problem worse by unmindful parenting? Could we make some simple positive changes to our behaviour that will affect his behaviour?

The first post was Obedience: Why do you have to tell them five times on Aha! Parenting. Something a lot of us ask ourselves in despair and actually it was a really great read. A reminder that our kids are human, they don’t share are priorities and don’t always want to do something just because we have said they should. The bit that really spoke to me though was the section about kids feeling disconnected from us or worse they have given up on us.

“Children naturally look to their parents for nurturing and guidance. If they’re convinced that we’re on their side, they want to please us. So if your child is defiant, or you keep finding yourself in power struggles, that’s a red flag that your relationship needs strengthening.”

It’s been a really rough month with all of us being ill, especially hubs, meaning I have had to do everything else. The result of this is that I haven’t had as much time or energy for Monkey lately. He has been left to get on with it a lot more than normal so is it any wonder then that he is not wanting to do what I say?

Throughout the article there are some great tips, not just about reconnecting, but with ways to help kids transition from what they want to do to what we want them to do and it is definitely worth a read.

The other post was How to react when your kids are disrespectful on Parenting Chaos. A little less relevant but a HUGE reminder not to engage in arguments with Monke (which I am definitely guilty of doing when I am on a short fuse and he is arguing against every single thing I say). To remember that his feelings are valid and that I need to stay calm and be the parent rather than get dragged into a daft argument. Plus, linking back to the previous post, if he is being defiant, there is a reason for it.

For example, the meltdown over going to the birthday party. I had not given him any warning about going to the party and just announced we were going. He hadn’t had any snacks (as there would be food at the party) and I know my toddler. He likes to know in advance what is going on and he is always on a much more even keel when he is not hungry. So in hindsight I can see why it all kicked off. He didn’t have time to prepare himself for going to the party and he was hungry and grumpy.

Add to this the fact that I had been tired and grumpy for a good few days by this point and he was feeling a bit unsettled anyway and it all just went bonkers. A reminder to me to let him know in advance what is happening, to take the time to explain things to him, oh and make sure he isn’t hungry! That actually if I am feeling stressed and harassed that it is even more important to spend a bit of one on one time with Monkey and make sure he knows what is going on. Otherwise I will just end up feeling more stressed and harassed with a massively unhappy toddler on my hands!

We’ve also been watching the Channel 4 series of “Born Naughty” which I have found fascinating. The premise of the programme is looking at seemingly naughty children and asking whether they are born naughty, whether the parents are to blame, or whether there is something more to it. It really is interesting and an eye opener into the scope of Autism Spectrum Disorders and I guess a reminder not to judge parents with naughty kids as sometimes there is more to it, and even if not, sometimes they just don’t know how to solve their child’s particular problems.

One of the more interesting diagnoses on the programme is about pathological Demand Avoidance, or PDA, on the Autism spectrum, where children are so anxious that they are hardwired to refuse any demand made of them. Where their instincts literally tell them to run from the seemingly innocuous request. This can build up and when they feel trapped they often become violent and the stories from the parents were quite harrowing. For example a mother having to call the Police because she is terrified of her 6 year old who is coming at her with a kitchen knife. Her story literally brought tears to my eyes.

Obviously these are extreme cases but on the programme, whether they found children did have special needs, or if they just had what they described as behavioural problems, a lot of the advice they gave to parents (in addition with making sure they had the relevant support from health visitors and appropriate schools) was about techniques to use with their kids. For example with one of the PDA children, Mum started to use sand timers to let him know when it was dinner time etc. So when the sand ran out he would come downstairs. He had warning and time to transition from what he was doing to what needed to happen next and it worked, there were less violent eruptions.

The point being that the experts in the programme helped all of the parents think about their child and techniques that would work for them specifically. There are so many techniques out there but of course the same thing won’t work for all children as all children are different. I don’t think Monkey is on the autism spectrum or think he has PDA but I think he does have some traits which respond to the same techniques they used with children with PDA. Warning him what is going to happen. Phrasing demands in a different way that makes them fun or exciting, rather than making it sound like a demand.

I have found that these things work for him by trial and error over the last few years. But when I am tired and stressed or I don’t feel like I have the energy, it is easy to forget about this. Forget how it all is going to effect him and just expect him to do what I ask him to do. Which leads to meltdowns and aggravation.

So we have been a lot more mindful of Monkey and the way we are parenting him recently. We can’t expect him to just go along with what we are saying all the time. He just isn’t that child, and actually I’m not sure I want him to be. I want him to be confident and know his own mind as an adult and for that to happen he needs to be confident and know how own mind now. That may not always make life that easy but we just have to think a bit more about our behaviour and adapt the things we say or the way we do things.

Things have definitely improved. He is 3 so of course he is contrary sometimes but he isn’t quite as defiant. I have made sure I have been spending more time with him one on one while LM is asleep. The TV has been on a lot less as we were using that far too much while things were tough, in order to get things done.

WP_20150520_18_41_15_Pro (2)

Silly Selfie Cuddle Time with Mummy


There are still a few issues as we have been in a really bad phase of fussy eating with him lately, but last night he ate all his dinner, which is huge for us, so we will see if we are moving out of that bad phase… I will talk more about that in a whole other post as there is too much to go into here!

Do you ever have times like this? Where you realise that your child’s behaviour is actually linked to your behaviour? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

MaternityMondaysAnd then the fun began...Mama and More

Best of WorstPost Comment Love

The Twinkle Diaries