Just last week I published a post about my struggles with my lively two year old. In a stroke of luck, or fate, today I attended a government run course targeted for parents on child behaviour. Sadly, it was heavily unsubscribed, so I had managed to wangle a last minute space and whether it was the idea of the creche, the adult company or the educational environment, I have to say I had high hopes for a fine afternoon.
I wasn’t disappointed. Two hours later I left the children’s centre feeling incredibly proud of the Mouse and how she handled the creche, but more importantly, totally changed as a parent. Well, for now anyway.
What I hadn’t appreciated prior to walking into that room, was that this was going to be an opportunity to pause, reflect and consider my own impact on my child’s behaviour, and think about how I could make things a little better for all of us.
This isn’t a self-bashing session, or a Mum-shaming-shop, or even a guilt-fest. But what it is, is me holding my hands up, and saying I haven’t been so perfect either. I haven’t dealt with things in the best way, and in all honesty I need to change some of the ways I respond to my childrens behaviour.
Having missed the first two sessions due to the never ending lurgy in the G-unit, I picked up on week 3of5 when today we were discussing parenting approaches to behaviour. More specifically, Positive vs Negative approaches.
Negative approaches to behaviour
- Punishment (Imprisonment, Exclusion, Confiscation)
- Physical punishment (Hitting, hurting)
- Negative Language (No, Don’t)
- Labels / Put Downs
Some of these approaches may seem traditional, and everyday (granted some conjure up barbaric images too, which sadly have existed in the past and still do in some societies). It’s highly likely that at any point every parent has turned to negative approaches occasionally, if not often. The message of today was that whilst these techniques may have a short term impact, in the long term they actually contribute to bad behaviour.
If a child see’s continuous shouting, anger, physical intervention and negativity, is it really rocket science that this is the behaviour that they will mimic? The scene which resonated in my mind is the classic, when you (I) am shouting at the top of my voice at the children to “STOP SHOUTING”.
Of course, we all slip up when pushed to our limits – particularly when under another external factor like a time pressure, tiredness, stress or upset. That’s okay – we are all human. What’s important is that you do realise you lost a certain level of control, and reflect on how it made everyone feel – chances are, not great. Have an open chat with the kids, and say sorry to each other. They need to see Mummy (or Daddy) makes mistakes too, and can apologise to them; to treat them with respect.
One of the really cutting lessons I picked up on was the damaging effect of labels on a child. I hadn’t ever really considered the consequences of constantly referring to a child as naughty – even when they are actually being really good. Yep, I hold my hands up. I’m guilty of that one. Imagine being constantly told you are bad; that’s actually a really upsetting thought that you might be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. The ‘correct’ approach is to address the behaviour, not the child ( I feel sad that you won’t get ready…I’m disappointed that we can’t go to the park now…). As opposed to ‘You are naughty / bad / not very nice’ etc.
Now clearly, my school line banter of ‘don’t be fooled by her cuteness’ isn’t (hopefully) enough to long term damage the Mouse into her adult years – but it certainly made me think. We have some making up to do.
Positive approaches to behaviour
- Open communication
- Reflection / Time out (as an alternative to Naughty step)
- Giving choices
- Explaining consequences and reasons why
- Modelling (Being happy, positive, starting afresh)
- Allocating responsibility
- Age appropriate boundaries
- Ignoring (Tantrums for example)
I can do this. Surely this isn’t too challenging and worth a try? I’ve definitely had enough of yelling, the naughty step is a big fat failure, and I don’t want my child to grow up believing she is rotten to the core. Because, whilst we have had a rough time lately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. She is a remarkably bright, funny and loveable two year old.
A huge part of frustrations between us all lies with attention and communication. I probably need to engage in a little more active listening to the Mouse, instead of constantly being on a mission to get somewhere, do something or be super efficient. Even if I am listening; As Dr Albert Mehrabians 7-38-55 rule states, only 7% of communication is verbal. 38% is tone of voice, and 55% is body language. So, that half hearted conversation whilst I’m washing up, or scrolling my phone, or pushing her in the pushchair maybe just isn’t enough.
Only last week we had an unusual bedtime meltdown with Tigs. A battle to get her to settle down and stop messing around with craft stuff in her bedroom. Getting increasingly frustrated with her inability to be able to leave it until the morning (both with work commitments to tend to) we took it in turns to go in and get cross with her that went on for over 45 minutes. In the end, when I really listened to what was causing her such distress, it came to light that she was trying to wrap up little presents she’d made for each of us that she wanted to leave out like Christmas morning. 5 minutes of helping her wrap later she was sound asleep. Not our finest parenting moment, but another huge lesson learnt along the way.
There are some other tactics I want to try too – maybe drawing up some House Rules, with a positive angle as opposed to an old school ‘No Hitting, No biting, No shouting’. Something along the lines of ‘In our home we are kind, we are gentle, we talk, we listen’.
Another idea discussed was instead of a behaviour or reward chart (which we have used in the past with mixed success – Tigs could NOT cope at all with receiving a negative stamp); a family jar filled with buttons for good behaviour for a common goal. Even Mummy & Daddy get a button for being kind, and when we have enough we get a family treat. It’s a lovely concept isn’t it?
Finally, the last thing to reflect on is that some behavioural traits are just a stage of development. In the same way a baby naps, or a 9 month old has separation anxiety; a two year old is finding their boundaries physically and emotionally. So ultimately, try to breathe through the frustrations and remember it’s not your fault, but it’s also not their fault; this too shall pass.
MESSAGE | Sometimes it seems the universe just has a way of sending you a little message just when you need it… Mouse brought home her first piece of nursery artwork today. ❤️🐭 . . . . . . #coolmumclub #thismamaloves #littleloves #littlefierceones #pinklinker #happylittlebuttons #rockingmummylife #snaphappybritmums #totsphoto #ukparentbloggers #livingfearlesslyauthentic