‘I am NOT your best friend mummy’

This week’s theme is ‘managing a hectic household’ and there is nothing like a mega tantrum to place your life into a tail spin.

The toddler meltdown is a ‘normal part of child development’. Yes. The ear-splitting, earth shattering display of emotion, sometimes coupled with throwing things, stomping off, and even hitting is perfectly normal.  As a mother this was NOT what I signed up for and the unpredictability often brings our entire household to it’s knees

In a bid to pull back some sort of control I have tried and tested a number of discipline techniques, all of which I hoped would set boundaries, give my daughter a sense of choice and are overall positive. That’s the hope anyway!

Here are my top 4 tried and tested methods.

The Naughty Step – 2-3 years of age

How it works?

When your child misbehaves or breaks a ‘house rule’ explain clearly what they have done wrong and issue a warning that if they do it again they will spend some time on the ‘naughty step’.  For the naughty step – I used the bottom of my stairs as it was suitably isolated from the rest of the house but I could also keep an eye on her.  Some people prefer using a place in the same room (i.e a mat or corner). Either way it can not be a fun place for them to hang out.

Make sure that they are not just feeling tired, ill or hungry. If they are being naughty and  repeatedly misbehave then calmly place your child on the naughty step.  Explain why they have been placed there and leave them for around 2-3 minutes.

If they get up off the naughty step then calmly and repeatedly place them back on the step.

Once your child has completed the agreed set time on the Naughty Step, crouch down so you’re on the same level, use a low and authoritative tone of voice, and explain why you put them there. Ask them to apologise, and when they do, praise them warmly with a kiss and a cuddle. Say ‘thank you’, go back to what you were doing and forget about the incident.

Verdict?

The ‘Naughty Step’ completely failed with my daughter. She absolutely relished the attention.  It was first introduced by a nanny when my daughter was 2 years old. She was having issues over sharing a dustpan and brush and subsequently sentenced to the ‘naughty step’.  When I returned home from work later that day the ‘naughty step’ was ALL she could talk about. As a concept I was intrigued and agreed with the nanny to ‘give it a go’ for consistency.  Within a day – Ella would misbehave and then take herself off to the naughty step with a smile and a ‘look at me’ flourish.  She even went as far as to order me to the naughty step when I refused her chocolate before bedtime.   Completely ineffectual!

Faff rating 🍷 Overall Effectiveness 👍

Top tip:  At this age (2-3years) I would suggest using ‘Time Out’ instead of the naughty step.   It does what it says on the tin, it is easy to understand and introduces them to boundaries. Ella would simply be extracted from a situation she would prefer to be in (after a warning) for ‘time out’, there was no stigma to it (oooh naughty step), and it gave her time to compose her herself (or cry it out) and think about her actions.  The ‘Time Out’ concept is so successful that Ella will now take herself off for time out if things are getting too much (normally a stand off over a toy). My advice would be to think of your ‘Time out’ spot when out and about (I go for a loo break) and always remember to give them a huge kiss and a cuddle if they say sorry.

Star Chart – 3 years

How does it work?

Buy a star chart or make one and each time agree on a theme or issue. You can target bad behaviour in general or just one topic (sharing toys, cleaning teeth).  I brought one which was for 7 days and had magnetic stars. It was also small and portable so I could take it away with us.

Discuss the star chart with your little one and ensure they understand what they need to do to get a star and crucially their reward!

Each time your child behaves well stick a star sticker or mark the star chart.

Once the chart is complete congratulate her! You can even give her a special treat such as an ice cream, movie, visit to a place she loves to go to or even a small gift.

Verdict?

I loved the star chart for dealing with specific issues like sharing toys and cleaning teeth. By 3 years of age, the concept of getting a colourful star on a chart that was on display in the house enchanted my daughter. Plus she is competitive and always in want of an ice-cream! This helped me deal with a number of specific issues like sharing toys on playdates, cleaning teeth and wiping her own bottom after a poo!

Faff rating 🍷 🍷🍷Overall Effectiveness 👍👍👍

Top tip: Keep consistent – as soon as one issue started to improve I started to forget about the star chart and loose the little magnetic stars.  Overall – I think this is a great method to deal with short term issues.  The only down side is keeping momentum going. Do remember to re-introduce the star chart if old habits start to come back.

Marble Jar – 3.5 years

How does it work?

Buy a jam jar and a ton of marbles.

Award a marble to your child for good behaviour. They get to choose the marble which adds a bit of excitement. You can also take one away if the child is naughty.

For some children a marble is enough of a reward but you can also promise a gift when the jam jar is full. If you do this do not pick a jar that is too large.  They will loose interest if the goal is too hard.

Verdict?

I introduced the marble jar when Joseph was born.  I wanted to get ahead of the game with any adverse reaction Ella would have towards our little bundle of joy by rewarding positive behaviour. I also frankly needed help keeping our shizzle together.  What I liked about the marble jar is that it’s more of a task based technique.  She would get a marble for helping to get herself dressed in the morning, offering to grab a spare nappy for her bro, clearing up after herself… So far (fingers crossed) the marble jar is working a treat.  At the moment she is saving her marbles up for a hamster!

Faff rating 🍷 🍷Overall Effectiveness 👍👍👍👍

Top Tip: I found that buying different sized marbles helped rewards extra special behaviour and kept things interesting.

Vegetable Challenge – 1-5 years

How it works?

Research shows that it can take up to 14 tastes before a child will accept a new vegetable (or any new food for that matter).

Decide on a reward system (I used stickers) and give your child the sticker every time she consumes the agreed vegetable or food type.

Decide on a target.  I did 2 weeks of trying new vegetables once a day.

Verdict?

I introduced this challenge 2 weeks ago as my daughter had given up on eating any vegetables apart from cherry tomatoes and sweetcorn.  I wanted to encourage her to try new veg but also re-introduce tried and tested veg that she was now for some reason refusing to eat.   Her pre-school has a method of not allowing children to leave the table until they have finished everything on their plate.  I was less keen on this idea as she is fairly new there and I did not want her singled out.  We agreed on a softer approach and for now it is working.  I wouldn’t say she is voraciously munching on cabbage and beetroot but she is eating without complaint cucumber and broccoli and sampling new tastes. Watch this space!

Faff rating 🍷 🍷🍷🍷Overall Effectiveness 👍👍
I hope you find these techniques useful. It has certainly helped me micro manage some of the bedlam in my house.  If you have any tips or experiences to share then I would LOVE to read them.  Please comment below!

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