Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Super Nanny Part Two

Today I give you part two of my child rearing "wisdom." Take it with a grain of salt. Yes, these are true methods that worked for me, but I am a 39-year-old woman with a facial tic who is starting to notice more and more gray hair. Oh yeah, and I drink.

Time Out – It works, but you have to use it consistently and YOU have to work at it. Get off your butt and sit over them until they have "served their time." Sorry, you might miss the end of Oprah, but it will be worth it in the end. Until they get the idea that "time out" is not play time you have to be present. I learned this lesson one afternoon when I put #1 Son in a two minute time out in a comfortable chair in the den. As I looked in on him, he was flipped around upside down playing with his feet.

Distraction is your friend. Playing with the buttons on your electronic equipment is not going to end with a simple "no, no Sweetheart, don't do that." Nor does it end with slapping their hands. In fact what that usually gets you is a defiant and angry toddler. Those are scary. They have more willpower than you. Trust me. Instead, take them out of the room by turning their attention to something they are allowed to play with. The key here is that you actually have to participate because when it all comes down to it, they really want your attention. Parking them in front of an Elmo video so you can watch Dr. Phil to learn how to deal with them defeats the purpose. Sitting on the floor playing blocks with them or banging their own toys together will make them forget all about that thousand-dollar TV.

Sending them to their room should not resemble a trip to Disney. If your kid has the entire Electronics Boutique lineup in their room disable the fun stuff. We have been known to remove Playstation controllers, power cords and other essential components. Twice C. has carried a television into our room. I kind of like having the option to watch two different programs at once. If you are too lazy to move the crap out, you'll have to stand guard duty at their door.

Door slamming – This one is actually rather amusing for you. You should probably try not to laugh where they can see you, though. We came up with this solution when the Little One was small. She was a drama queen remember? Stick a washcloth at the top of the door where they can't reach. Nothing frustrates a kid more than NOT hearing that satisfying slam. After a few tries, they give up. That washcloth stayed on top of her door for 6 months, but it finally broke her of the habit.

Does your kid lock himself in his room? Remove the doorknob. Simple. We've gone a couple of years without doorknobs on the rooms of small children. I've talked to other parents who worry about their child's right to "privacy." I'm sorry, if you live in this house, are under the age of 10 and don't have a job, you don't have a right to much of anything, much less a right to lock me out of your room. We're a bit more lenient with this one now that they are older. Locking their sibling out of their room is quite different than barring access to a parent. They do know, however, that they are to immediately open their door if C. or I knock.

Anything they fight over belongs to you. Simple. I used to give them some time to work it out amongst themselves. Conflict resolution is an important skill in adulthood. If they can't come up with a solution, the item is mine. I once brought a set of Legos into my office at work. It kept my coworkers and I occupied for a couple of months. Sure, you can give the stuff back...later. They have to get the message. Also, if they refuse to pick their toys up from the common areas of the house, take them. Put them in a garbage bag and hide them. The added bonus is that when you finally give them back, it's like Christmas all over again and you're a hero.

You know, looking back on it my kids were really good when they were younger. What happened? They say that everyone has a twin and I believe it. We get comments from other adults and teachers all the time: "Your kid is so sweet, kind, polite, empathetic, etc. etc." Huh? You mean THESE kids? I'm left wondering, why does the evil twin live at my house?


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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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