I’d spent the morning yelling at my kids “Get your shoes on! Where’s your lunch box? If you hit your brother you will not be watching tv this evening. Stop FIGHTING! WE. NEED. TO. GET. TO SCHOOL!” Less than an hour later I stood in the carpark with tears rolling down my cheeks, my almost two year old spread out on the bitumen- refusing to walk, going limp whenever I tried to pick him up, with no amounts of effort or threats making any difference to his behaviour. I just felt like a huge failure. None of the boys listen to me until I yell. There is constant fighting. My eldest seems to constantly misbehave even though he is almost six and knows what I expect of him. I just felt completely burnt out, fed up and powerless. So I turned to you guys. My amazing community who I seem to turn to every time life throws me a little curveball. I asked you all for your best advice on discipline, coping with ‘bad’ behaviour, basically just how to get my kids to do what I want and NEED them to do. And, like you always do, you stepped up to the challenge and gave me some AMAZING advice. I received hundreds of messages from mums, teachers, psychologists, child behaviour specialists, grandparents etc. A lot of you messaged me and said you felt like you were in exactly the same boat as me, so I thought I would compile all of the advice and have it in one place (here) for you to look over, and take what you want from it. Because what works for me might not work for you (but I hope it will!). So here is a list of the best advice I received (in no particular order):
- Karate/martial arts. Now don’t get me wrong, when a few of you messaged me to suggest this I kind of thought “Did they even hear the part when I said they were already being violent?” But after reading more about it and having quite a few of you message me saying the same thing I can see how it has the potential to work. Karate and martial arts teach so many things-discipline, respect, knowledge, following instructions, to name a few. It would also help get rid of any built up energy/frustration. A really valid suggestion!
- Essential oils. Now, I don’t know enough about essential oils to comment on whether or not this would work. But again, quite a lot of you messaged me to say that you have had huge success using essential oils to manage your children’s behaviours With some of you even saying that you were able to finally take your children off medication after commencing oils. I would recommend talking to Jazze from The Calm Compound, she is a wealth of knowledge and is happy for you to contact her if you are considering essential oils for managing your child’s behaviour.
- Steve Biddulph– He is the Author of ‘Raising boys’ and ‘Raising Girls’. Again, I dont know enough about him but 90% of my inboxes were about this guy, so he must be doing something right! I’m definitely buying his book ‘Raising Boys’.
- Jo Frost- Super Nanny. We have probably all seen at least one episode. She’s definitely not for everyone. She’s quite ‘old school’, very strict and can lean a bit too far to the side of ‘Authoritarian’ parenting, rather than ‘Authoritative’ which seems to achieve the best results. But she definitely has her merits. She is the Queen of consistency, she is very clear and doesn’t bend any rules. I think it is definitely worthwhile watching a few episodes on Youtube to pick up a few of her techniques. I’ve started doing this and I feel like I already have some effective techniques to get me started.
- Maggie Dent. Again, I don’t know enough about her but a quick look at her website and she looks AMAZING! Seriously click on the link and have a look. There is a wealth of knowledge there. I will be going through this website asap!
- Books: Siblings Without Rivalry, Raising Boys, Newbies Guide To Positive Parenting, 1, 2, 3 Magic, The Conscious Parent’s Guide To Positive discipline, The Whole Brain Child, No Drama Discipline, Perfect Parents/Perfect Children
Now, I think I’ve actually figured my situation out. I’ll explain it to you because it might help you make sense of your situation. I have three boys- 6, 4, and 2 (well, they’re all almost those ages). My husband is incredibly hands on with them. He is the most amazing father I’ve ever seen and they are obsessed with him. He started FIFO work (for the first time ever) about 2 months ago now and their behaviour has also become worse over these two months. In a nutshell, I think my 6 year old is misbehaving and ‘acting out’ aggressively/violently/talking back etc because he wants attention. If he behaves then we all cruise along as a family unit and I spend my time interacting with them all as a group. When he misbehaves I remove him and talk to him and tell him what he’s done wrong. Sometimes he cries so I spend more time with him. Sometimes he is even more defiant so I yell at him. But that doesn’t matter to him. I learnt at University during my Childhood Psychology units that sometimes, for some children any attention is good attention. I actually cant believe it’s taken me this long to realise. He is craving my attention and he doesn’t care if it’s me reprimanding him, because I’m still with him one on one. I think it is also no coincidence that his behaviour has become worse now that he is in his first year of formal schooling (so he is spending much less time with me at home). So, with this new found knowledge here is my plan:
- Spend one on one quality time with him every single day. I want to aim for at least 1 hour. This will probably mean putting the younger boys to bed and sitting up with Noah doing something he likes- reading a book, watching a movie, talking about his day etc.
- Praising all his positive interactions with his brothers during the day. I think I am already pretty good at this, but I really need to increase this so I’m pretty much praising every single positive thing he does (at least in the beginning).
- Give one warning for ‘bad’ behaviour and be clear about a) what I expect him to change/do differently. And b) what will happen if he doesn’t change his behaviour. For example: “Please don’t hit your brother again, I don’t allow hitting in this house. You need to stop hitting right now. If you hit again you will go and spend 6 minutes in time out.”
- If he doesn’t change his behaviour then I have to be 100% consistent. This is where I know I go wrong. It is so hard to be consistent. We all get fed up, tired and plain sick of saying the same thing over and over, ya hear me? But this is something I know I need to do. I need to follow through every. single. time.
- When he is in time out he gets zero attention from me. Remember, attention is his ‘currency’. This is what he wants more than anything and he has learnt up until now that if he misbehaves he will get attention (any attention is good attention). So, now when he behaves he gets no attention.
- Once his time out is over, I explain to him why he was put in time out and what I expect from him moving forward. He has to agree to improve his behaviour. As soon as he shows even the slightest positive change in his behaviour I will shower him with positive attention.
I honestly think this will work. I have faith that if I stick to this 6 step plan I will see almost immediate results. I will say that I am not in any position to recommend or advise anyone on how to discipline their child so please use all of this as an insight into what I am doing and take from it what you want. Always speak to a doctor if you have any concerns surrounding your child. I hope this list might help you if you’re currently feeling helpless, pregnant with your first, second, third or fourth or planning a family in the future, or just looking for some parenting resources. I feel like our collective brains are so valuable, so this is what we’ve all created. Thank you, all.