One day, Oldest One was messing about on our bed and refused to leave a plastic duck alone. I got more and more wound up by this simple yet, I felt, authoritative " leave the duck alone" statement. But he continued to ignore me. In the end I bellowed in a loud voice "LEAVE THE DUCK ALONE". Guess what happened next.........
I have a lot of parenting books living in my house. I flick through them in fits and starts - you know only when a crisis hits and then it's pull the books out, flip to the section you think applies, read another section because it sounds more interesting but totally irrelevant and then try to apply any of theory. I also have a guilty pleasure of watching Nanny 911 and Supernanny. I like to feel slightly smug and pretend that my children to not look or sound like the kids on TV. But Of course we all know that from time to time all kids and parents sound and behave like they should be on an episode of either of those programmes. Does any of this research work - NOOOOOOOOOO.
I then phone my Mum - often hiding in the kitchen behind the fridge - and she always has the sane and sensible advise that all the books and programmes are missing. You what I mean - kids can be a bloody nightmare but no child can be in charge of you, you are the adult, put them in their room to scream it out, it's just a phase etc.
I have noticed in these conversations with Mum and I ask her why? Why? WHY? (mostly with increasing hysteria after each why), she does that thing, you know that you are an adult and not the child...... Again why??? I want to be a child, I want to strop and I want to lie on the floor screaming but the screaming ball of tantrum just outside the closed kitchen door won't let me. So deep breath in and deep breath out, I now have to deal with child and try not to act like one myself.
So in pursuit of a resolution and in a bar last weekend with my aunt and my mum, armed with a hefty glass of wine I sought answers to this very dilemma. This is the sage wisdom from them both and bloody good it is too.
1. You are in charge not the kids.
2. You cannot ever just be a friend to your kids you need to give them a grounding and a framework that works in your family.
3. When a tantrum starts or anything you don't like such as cheekiness, (within reason) take the kid by the hand, say "follow me" and lead them to another room. Don't say a word, put them on chair, bed or somewhere then leave, shutting the door if you can.
4. Let them scream it out and deal with after. This could take minutes or hours or loads of times over the day. Keep doing it. This is especially good for kids that do know the rules as my Oldest One quite clearly does.
5. Eventually boredom and parents ignoring screams equals kid who has calmed down and then apologises. Tantrums need an audience don't give it.
6. Even if in a public place, take child out or away from situation and put them say near a tree and walk a couple of paces away and position yourself so you can see them but they know you are ignoring them. Wait for storm to calm.
7. Really try hard to let the small stuff go. Try saying yes sometimes. I sometimes find myself in a permanent state of picking up on stuff and always saying no.
8. Keep clear that this is for their benefit and yours. You want a happy house not a screech house.
9. Trust your instincts. Do what works for your family and ignore everyone else.
10. Don't believe everything you read in parenting books. Or parenting blogs for that matter.
Above all, when Oldest One wants to play with a plastic duck, let them. Don't under any circumstances get to the point of stupidity that results in a family legend.
Big refrain now "leave the duck alone......."