Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Truth about parenting…


Bog Boy In BIG Sulk
Let’s face it we aren’t the parents we’d like to be and we all resort to the basest of tactics in the struggle to raise our kids.
Take one friend; recently their child did not want to go to hockey training, complaining that they were too tired. No problem let them rest at home. But said parent had forked out £120 of hard cash for the season and she knew that as soon as her Darling got to hockey he’d be as happy as Larry.
What to do?
She asked nicely but the only response was a muffled wail from the depths of the duvet, so she then upped the ante knowing that in the evening she had already planned to take the whole family out for a treat at the local Pizza Express. So she gives him two choices: Stay at home in bed and rest ALL day and NOT be able to go out to Pizza Express in the evening because obviously he was too tired to do anything. Or go to hockey and enjoy a night out. Response from child was: “You’re not very nice all the time, are you?” and of course he duly turned up for hockey.
Parenting I find is all about whose will, will win.
Yours or Theirs.
You know how you’d like them to behave and so you must show them that by behaving in the way you want gains them favours and doing what they want has consequences that are not very pleasant. I am NOT talking about punishment here (except in the most serious of cases) I am talking about bribery.
My father, bless him, says raising children in like training Labradors. Basically they are half trained already; you just have to build on their basic willingness to please and reward them for the good behaviour. That and the fact they need a lot of exercise daily to exhaust them so much that any thoughts of mischief are far too tiring to even contemplate.
I am afraid to admit it that in some cases my husband and I play Good Parent Bad Parent to get the requisite good behaviour from our boys. Bad Parent threatens them with dire consequences, good parent rushes in to say No! No! and comes up with compromise. Child wide eyed takes compromise which is exactly what both parents wanted in the first place.
Sometimes I am very direct with the boys and say behave as I want and you get sweets/DVDs/whatever you want and it is all done up front. This I find doesn’t really have the lasting effects that I would expect but in an emergency there’s no harm in trying.
Other times I go for the direct threat. Problem with this tactic is that you have to be willing to carry out said threat. I have found myself on the side of the road telling my children to get out of the car. Luckily they usually plead with me and I magnanimously allow them to remain in situ. I use this particular threat very, very sparingly and only usually when I am at the end of my tether and can no longer concentrate on my driving due to their petty squabbling and fighting.
The direct threat also works at bedtime as in “If you do not stay in your room and go to sleep you will have to sleep in the Green House!” I am not kidding when I say I have taken said small child out there in the middle of the night.
Two minutes of it with me hiding in the shadows making sure everything is OK (I would NEVER just leave him there on his own) and said small boy has never quibbled since. I am not saying that he doesn’t get out of bed or kick up an almighty fuss about going to sleep just that when it gets too much the mere mention of the greenhouse and he backs down immediately.
I doubt my threats and bribery will work for many more years but hopefully by the time they decide to call my bluff on a major scale they will be old enough to talk it through and I will be wised up enough to know which battles to fight…

4 comments:

Nora said...

I used to threaten to put mine out of the car too when I was really fed up with them. There was much pleading from them not to do it. It was the only thing that worked. It seems cruel now, but what was I to do? I'm glad that they never took me up on it. XOX

Expat mum said...

To be honest, I think it adds drama to an already tense situation. If the children really think that you're going to drive off and leave them on the side of the road (which I hope they don't) it's a little worrying for them.
I used to drive car-pool and bring 5 kids home in my car (all aged 5)- I know. Sometimes the kids would get shrill and out of control. I would simply pull over to the side of the road and sit there until they realised we were no longer moving. (To be honest, this was mainly because I can't drive with a lot of noise behind me.) Then I would just tell them that we would sit there till everyone stopped arguing. For the first couple of times, there was a huge blaming session, until they copped that it didn't matter whose fault it was, we were going nowhere. Soon learned to shush when I started to pull over.

Tattie Weasle said...

Nora - it worked for me too but it does seem cruel!
Expat mum - why didn't I think of that? Seems so logical when someone points it out. Yes threatening to dump them does add drama and it is not pleasant. My problem is I get so wound up but keeping calm and pulling over until they are quiet before I get too wound up has to be the way forward! Thank you!

TheMadHouse said...

Boys are like dogs, well mine are. Lots of praise, exercise and food and they seem OK. I am with Expat mum, I am am so careful not to cut of my nose to spite my face and realise that I have to carry out any punishment that I offer. The boys are learning that actions have consequences.

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