It's hard to find information on how to deal with kid's bad behaviour because it's uncomfortable for many to talk about and the controversy of what's appropriate surrounding that. No mumma likes to be judged on the decisions they make and so they shouldn't; if it's within socially acceptable rules of parenting. I am talking about parenting behaviours that involve abuse when I say within acceptable parenting behaviour. Abuse is definitely not acceptable under any circumstance.
So how do you tell your kid off? You have reached your limit and they walk all over you. They don't listen, repeat bad behaviour and are impossible to take anywhere. Controversial or not, kid's need to be told no and breaking rules should come with a consequence. Feel bad telling your child no? Well who else is going to teach them? Whose job do you think it is to teach them what is right and wrong? That is what parenting is and there is no fluffing around the subject period.
Think about all the challenges your child will face in their lifetime. Choosing the right kind of friendships, following their dreams for a future job, being a good human being in our society. You know kids don't pop out of you and become these people. How does your child know it's wrong to shout back at you, or bite their sibling or snatch a toy off a friend? You have to teach them! I had a visit from a mum once who believed her young toddler didn't understand what no meant or being told off. They left me in my house with drawings up the wall, three broken toys and a bite mark on my son's arm. Do you think a possible intervention of saying no to that kind of behaviour would have helped? Maybe not straight away, but at least the child would come to understand that it is wrong to do those things. How would he otherwise?
So when do you start saying no? It's actually an easy answer that many mummas miss because it can be clouded by a child's age. I have heard the words they don't understand SOOOO many times but I will give you some advice on that one. If they are doing something that is a danger to them, someone else or is something you don't want them doing, you say a big loud NO and you keep doing that until they understand. And guess what? There is no starting age! It starts when they start doing these things. So you don't freak out, I will give you an example.
Eva was 6 months old and managed to crawl up to the TV powerpoint. This was fun and interesting because it had lots of wires coming out of the wall and two bright red buttons that made a noise when you press them. Not to mention every time the wires were pulled, the TV turned off... hilarious right? It is, when you are 6 months old! So what do I do? She's 6 months old and I have been told they don't understand at that age. I pull her away without saying anything about twenty times but that just makes it more fun to go back and do it again. I have to decide right then and there. Am I going to be a mum that doesn't tell her kids off because I feel bad saying no and they probably don't understand that it is wrong? The result of that means she will probably break the TV or worse, electrocute herself. THERE'S NO DECISION TO MAKE! I don't want her to hurt herself or cause damage to the TV (God help me without that thing on) so I tell her NO! I look her in the eyes so she's looking at me and with an angry face and a stern voice I say NO. What if she laughs? Say it again and move her away blocking her from doing it. What if she cries? Give her a cuddle and reassure her you love her but that was naughty or wrong (whatever words you label the behaviour). Now she didn't touch the wires anymore and moved onto finding another boundary to push. She's 5 now and still finds boundaries to push. We weren't all teenagers that long ago and know that will continue for a while yet. However, whatever it is and whatever the age, we say no!
Here's another example. Franklin got really mad at Eva the other day and hit her on the head. She cried and it looked like it hurt. I could have easily said Eva he's only three and you were annoying him. He doesn't understand how to say stop. What do you think might happen if I had said that, in front of him, without doing anything? My guess is he would do the same the next time he was angry and would also assume he could do that with anyone, not just his sister. I don't want my kid being the one who thinks it's ok to hurt people. What does that also say to him when he grows up and becomes an adult? So I look him in the eyes at his level, with an angry face and say no! I explain in a short, simple sentence that we do not hit anyone and to say sorry for hurting. I also add that if he does that again he will go to his bedroom for time out. Franklin apologises and also gives Eva a hug, which we immediately praise to reassure how to treat people nicely. Now that won't be the last time he does that I'm sure, BUT he has been made aware that is wrong and it comes with a consequence.
This is another reason why we praise good behaviour. Praising good behaviour is not just for teachers to do and I promise if you gave your child lots of positive praise, you would deal with less of the telling off. Why? Because kids feel safe with boundaries and thrive on positive praise! If your child knows they will receive applause, hugs, kisses, treats and lots of lovely words thrown at them, well they will just keep doing the good behaviour. You already know this to be true. Think about when your child first did something like clapping or standing up. Everyone cheered and smiled excitedly so they kept doing it. Or when they blew raspberries and you laughed so they did it another fifty times. This can be said for doing the right thing. And don't assume I spend my day going oh Jack, I just love the way you are sitting so nicely on the couch, I am realistic remember. You pick the positive praise moments that you had spent months or hours on teaching them it. You say things like Franklin good boy for asking for the toy off Eva. Now all those months of telling him off for snatching and hitting has just payed off, even if it's once every now and then. Grab that one time and tell them how good they are.
None of us are perfect and I have moments where I honestly am so over it and can't be bothered. Sometimes my kids get the lollipop in the shops because I'm so embarrassed by their feral screaming. Sometimes I give my kids a second packet of tiny teddies because I'm over the whinging. I always hate myself after and spend a moment annoyed I gave in. But, I forgive myself and move on. I also warn them that they will either miss something else for that behaviour or it won't happen again. Obviously if this was another situation where they didn't want to hold my hand crossing the road or wanted to run ahead in the shops it would be different. They could kick and scream all they like but I would rather them be safe doing it than splattered on the road or lost in the mall.
My tip is, stay as consistent as possible and especially make sure you and your partner are on the same page with this as well. Nothing is worse than you spending 24/7 saying no to a particular behaviour for your partner to completely ignore it. That sends mixed messages and confusion to your child. Don't give up after three times of saying no. If it means you telling your child no for turning off the power point a hundred times then do it! They will get it eventually. Do any of you still go and play with the power point switches? I'm guessing not, so it means you got it when your parents told you no, right?
Choose what is important for your child to learn at their age. A baby is going to learn to not touch dangerous things. A seven year old probably gets that by now, yet they will have different things (most probably talking back) you will be teaching them the right and wrong of. You may feel like a monster and you will more than likely have days where all you do is say no, but your kids will be so much better for it and you will make them great kinds of people!
Make NO your best friend because it will be around for a while xx
©The Realistic Mum
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