Parents Are Allowed To Have Tricks Up their Sleeve
Have your little ones ever tried to hide from you inside a clothes rack in a department store? Ever thrown a fit because they want to eat the food in your grocery cart before you've checked out? How about interrupting you while you're on the phone? We've all been there! Really, we have. No kid is perfect and I have never met a parent that is without flaws.
When I had two 4 year old little ones running around, a double dose of "look, I can walk now, into everything, and the last one cooking away slowing me down I thought I was going to lose my mind now and again. I probably did a few times.
That's when I decided to take parenting classes. Don't get me wrong, I loved 90% of day to day life - messes and all. But at some point it dawned on me I was running on instincts alone. I handled a lot and it was fun! Until one of them decided that biting was cute. Then, I thought I lost a kid at Macy's when she was actually right beside me hiding behind some clothing, and grocery shopping became a hit or miss as far as successfully completing the job without one of them shedding tears.
The local library, where we went for story time each week offered free classes and free child-care with the story-time teachers. I thought, "Why not?" I knew a few parents that decided against attending because they felt it would be embarrassing. I have no shame! I am always willing to admit I can be better.
I won't bore you with some of the details. I mean what parent of a brood like mine needed to rehash correct diaper-changing techniques? I'll skip over the whole co-sleeping debate - it's a personal choice. And, I'll move right past how to get your little one to each vegetables - I never quite figured that one out.
Here's the good part...how to get your child to behave so that they are not only safe but to save you stress and make your life so much easier. It's really quite simple. It's called 1,2,3, Time Out. This is the single most important thing I have ever learned in my life!
When your child misbehaves count 1, 2, and if they haven't stopped by then, you're screwed! No, I'm kidding. I have seen parents count to 10, count to three, but add a 2 and 1/2, 2 and 3/4 etc. Those are the parents that are having their butts owned by a three year old.
Seriously, all you have to do is count to 3 and if you make it to three the child goes in a time-out. It will only take a couple of times doing this. Children learn fast! It's so easy right? It's not. Yes, it is a simple premise, but it only works if the parent makes it work. That's the hard part.
The Woes Parents Go Through
True story... I have 4 kids and about $200 worth of food in my cart and I cannot get my youngest girl to behave. I tell her I am going to count and if she doesn't straighten out we are all going to the outside bench for her to have a time-out. She laughs at me, doesn't listen, and so I find myself standing over her on the bench while the other three are not too happy. She was just 3 so her time-out time is 3 minutes. Feels like forever sometimes!
Once back inside it doesn't take her long before she's creating havoc again. The other kids are behaving extra good and I do not want to punish them but, I told my daughter if I reached 3 again we were all going home for a time-out and not bringing the food with us. She just had to test me. Within minutes I am loading the four kids back in the car and my very full cart is sorrowfully abandoned at the market.
That's all it took. They saw I would follow through. I never made crazy threats like "if you don't behave Santa won't come this year" or "no video games for a month." I didn't spend a bunch of time explaining why their behavior wasn't good. I didn't try to reason with them. It was always 1, 2, 3, Time-Out.I reached 3 a total of 3 times with my kids. It got to the point wear I could just hold hold up a single finger and they would instantly stop.
Now, truth be told, once their time-out was over I would ask them if they knew what they did wrong and we may have spent a few quick minutes talking. But, only after the time-out was complete. Short and sweet is the name of the game. That's trick number two. Lectures and heartfelt 20-minute talks simply don't work. With the first, they know they have won. With the second, you have wasted your breathe - they stopped listening 3 minutes in.
This last trick is something others may not approve of. I have received the gamut of looks when implementing this tactic to reign in my kids. I whistled loudly! Yup, as if they were a pack of animals needing to be herded into the pen - I whistled and they came.
Ever have 5 kids at a park full of other children and freak out because you can't see them all at once? Me too!
When my kids all had soccer practice at the same enormous field at the same time but, in different sections, I couldn't be at each of their individual fields at the same time. I know their coaches were watching them, but these coaches were also watching 10 - 15 other kids. I would often scan the fields and if I could not catch a glimpse of them all, I would whistle. Invariably, I would see each kid stop and wave over to me until I caught their eye.
When they were old enough to run around our street with other neighborhood kids all I had to do is whistle and my kids came running home to me. I actually will still whistle at or for them. Amusement parks, big parties, etc. When we all recently met at a farm for our fall traditional outing, I could see my youngest, now 23, across the way but he could not see me. One whistle later and our eyes meet and the looking for each other is over.
3 tricks and your kids will behave. There have been very few instances where I could not implement one and have a problem solved.
Try these, especially the first one. Stick to your guns and let me know how things go for you - so far it has worked for every parent I have shared it with over the years that was willing to not cave to the cutest face they ever saw. 🙂