Monday, December 17, 2007

Twelve Tips for Christmas

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Parenting made easy with our tips from the experts (me!)

1. RESPECT your children. By that I mean treat them as you would treat an adult. ALWAYS EXPLAIN why you are saying or doing something. You are the parent, yours is the final decision, but it's common curtesy to explain why, take their oppinion into account as much as possible and empathise with their hurt feelings. After all, you would feel very indignant if someone presented you with an ultimatum "just because they said so." Try: "I'm sorry... I know you really wanted to do x. We can't because if we do, then y. Maybe next time. Let's have a hug" etc etc.

2. PRAISE possitive behaviour. Ignore as much as possible of their negative behaviour, or empathise with it. ("It makes me sad when you get so angry and it makes you be rude to me") Be free with your affection; hugs, kisses, playing, tickles are the things that make them enjoy being with you, and wanting to please you.

3. NAME FEELINGS. (This makes me sad. I know you're angry/dissapointed but... I like it when we do this,it makes me feel happy.) If a child knows the name for what they're feeling, it makes it easier to manage. Matilda is always saying "Make me happy, mummy. I'm a bit sad."

4. DISASSOCIATE NEGATIVE BEHAVIOUR from your child. Say "You're cross, and it makes you act naughty", or "that was naughty" not "You're naughty/being naughty." This makes the child feel they are not *identified* by the behaviour, and can change it.

5. "CONSEQUENCES" INSTEAD OF "PUNISHMENT" Instead of "If you don't go to bed, no going to the park tomorrow" try "If you don't go to bed, we'll have to not go to the park tomorrow -because you'll be overtired." "If you don't pick your toys up, I'll have to put them away -I don't like tripping over them."

6. NO EMPTY THREATS. Always threaten with things you are prepared to enforce. And then do it. Correspondingly, if you promise something, ALWAYS stick with it. (unless it's out of your power to do so, and then apologise, explain and empathise.) It's very helpful to be consistent like this. Pick your battles. Only correct behaviour you find especially problematic. Choose what you want to work on each time. Otherwise they'll get desensitised at being corrected all the time, and will quickly learn to ignore the "background noise" -you!

7. WHISPER. If your child is yelling, try lowering your voice and talking very very quietly. They'll usually have to quiet down to hear what you're saying.

8. HAVE A CHAT. when you have a clash, try to have a chat about it after everyone calms down... Explain (and let *them* explain) what happened, why everyone was cross, and have a hug after the issue has been resolved. Matilda actually asks to "have a chat" when she's upset about something.

9. GIVE TWO CHOICES, and be prepared to stick with whatever they choose. Make sure you're reasonably happy with both choices.
ie: "Do you want to turn the television off and do something nice together, or do you want ME to turn it off?" "Do you want to stop yelling and talk nicely, or do you want to go and yell upstairs on your own? This noise makes my head hurt."

10: HUMOUR is your best friend and is GREAT at diffusing tension and anger. Silly poems. Making a grumpy face. Tickling. Making a performance out of the situation.

11: ASK THEM TO REPEAT what you're saying, or what happened. "Matilda, why is mummy cross? Mummy is cross because... (and wait for them to complete the sentence.)" "If I take your toy away, does that make you happy, or sad? And if you take Philip's toy away, does that make him happy or sad? What can we do to make him feel happy again?"

12: GET DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL when you want to talk to them about something. Kneel down and make them face you, or sit them on your lap. That way they HAVE to pay attention.

13: DON'T MAKE FUN of their man-boobs. (Oops, that was thirteen... Ignore this last one!)

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Charissa said...

Anna, You do a great job on your blog. I like your parenting tips. I'll have to print those off. I've read so many parenting books, and looks like you've summed them all up in one blog post. Nice. Thanks.

Christine said...

Great post! Adorable kids. So glad to have found your blog. :)