So, we’ve already looked at what the hell do to for our kids discipline wise. But now the question remains- what the hell is actually out there? What do all the strategies do? Are any better than others? Good questions, I’m glad you asked. Or, I’m assuming you asked. I have a bad habit of that sorry.
You’ve probs got your fave strategies that you like to adopt, and I’ll start out by saying I am a bit Triple P heavy because I facilitate the stuff, but there are a ton of ideas out there and you don’t have to stick to just one set of tips. Try a few things out, tweak them to suit your family. And if all else fails? Wine. There’s always wine.
This is a big question that we often ask ourselves as parents every.single.day. And as a psych, it’s something I’m often asked about in my job. The ever-gorgeous Lauren from The Thud posted a link yesterday to an article on iVillage (via Time) about disciplining kids. It featured two researchers, Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, who have done a ton of research on children, and on the way the brain works. They’re clever peeps. Daniel Siegel in particular is well known for his book “Parenting from the Inside Out”. He’s all about attachment, and mindfulness, and brain biology. CLEVER.
Their new book, No-Drama Discipline, has some good general ideas about discipline, like:
Empathy is the cornerstone of discipline. Getting into the mind of our kids and trying to understand why the hell they’re doing what they’re doing. Which can be near impossible at times. But so, so important.
It’s not about punishment, it’s about teaching. Using those moments to teach the child what to do, instead of what not to do.
Indeed. However, they then go on to talk about time-out, and how it’s a bad thing, and that it can change your kid’s brain. And putting them in time out is telling them they have no one at the time they need someone the most. Shit. Hello guilt.
There are SO many ideas out there on discipline. Time in, Time out, quiet time, controlled crying, removal of privileges, contracts, behaviour charts, planned ignoring, planned activities, 1,2,3 method, yelling, not yelling, talking, not talking, smacking, doing the anti-bullshit behaviour dance (OK, so that last one may be a made up one. But hey, could work?). They’ve all been tried and tested, a lot come with research behind them (except for the dance. But I like the dance. Test it out for me and let me know, k?), and their proponents will all praise them to the hilt.
So which one? Which research is right? Which one do you pick? Who do you listen to?
I’ll tell you which one…
Whatever the fuck works for you and your family.
Truly. You are the expert of your kids. Don’t let any shmuck tell you otherwise. You know what your child responds to, and what isn’t going to work at all. For some kids? They need some time out. They need a chance to cool down, to reflect and learn to self-regulate because in the heat of the moment there’s no reasoning with them. Others? Others crave talking things through, problem solving. Some need that carrot dangled in the form of a behaviour chart, or rewards, in order to kick start a new behaviour.
Time out doesn’t have to be a bad thing. And it’s not like they’re in there for eleventy billion hours. The whole thing with time out is that you always go back in after a short period of time, and you always work through the issue with the child. WHEN THEY’RE CALM. Time out doesn’t necessarily tell the child ‘you’ve got no one’. Time out says ‘we all need a chance to calm ourselves down’. Even as adults, sometimes we need time to ourselves to reflect and gather our thoughts. We’re not isolating our kids, we always come back to them. So before you beat yourself up about using time out, there is totes another perspective on it. Want to look at research? I’d like to see a brain scan of a child in the middle of a meltdown when a parent is trying to reason with them. Hint: It’d be batshit crazy.
Regardless of the method of discipline you use, the most important things to your kids are that you love them, and you’re focusing on what to do instead of what not to do. They’re gonna muck up. They’re little humans learning how to find their way in the world. Shit, we adults still muck up. So we can’t expect them to be all over it so early on. A couple of things I find helpful are:
Remind yourself that it’s not personal. Your kid is not out to send you crazy. Much. At this point in time they’re totes egocentric, it’s allllll about them. They don’t realise half the time what impact their actions have on others.
Think about the age and stage of your child. Is it developmentally appropriate? Is it a brief phase or is it more longstanding?
Safety is what you’re focused on. If their behaviour is at a level where they are putting themselves or others at risk, do what you need to in order to keep them safe. Time in (a safe bear hug restraint) until they stop the behaviour, place them in time out if they need to be alone for a bit, physically remove them (in a gentle manner) from the issue.
Empathy IS the key. Put yourself in your child’s shoes, and when you’re talking to them afterward, always ask them to reflect on what others might have felt as a result of their behaviour. It’s never too early to start talking empathy.
If possible, always redirect to looking forward. Try not to dwell on the incident. Don’t force your child to say sorry, because that shit never works. Redirection is a good thing.
The louder they get, the quieter you get. Have you ever tried to argue with someone who is whispering? Impossible! When you get quieter, it forces them to quieten down so they can hear you.
Ensure you have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C- all of varying levels. So for minor behaviours- use something like a planned ignoring, and then talk with your child later. Plan B might be quiet time on the periphery of the activity, and Plan C might be time out/behaviour dance/time in/contract/whatever the fuck is going to work for your kid
The best possible defence is a good offence. Plan shit out. If you know your cherub goes nuts in public places, sit down and get a bit of a routine cracking. Talk to them about the expectations in public. Have a couple of key ideas they can take with them. Provide activities to help keep them occupied.
Use your village! Get support for you. When you’re feeling calm and supported, it’s so much easier to deal with crazy shit.
And finally- a word on smacking. We’ve been back and forth on this smacking debate for yonks. My take on it is- monkey see, monkey do. If you hit your child as a form of discipline, it kinda says to them ‘hey when something like x happens you need to hit’. And they then go out into the world and try that out on others. Not always of course, and many of us were smacked and turned out ok (except for that minor eye twitch. But we won’t talk about that), but I think when it comes to discipline, the main question is ‘what does this form of discipline teach them?’ Smacking doesn’t teach the child what to do, or how to handle a shitty sitcho. It just circuit breaks things and detracts from the real issue at hand. The other thing is with discipline strategies, you want something that can be transferrable across settings, and consistent. Because kids love that shit. You can’t take smacking into school with the child, and you can’t take smacking onto the sporting field either. Would be a tad awks. You want to make it simple for yourself, and you want your child to be getting the one kind of idea that can go between home, school, activities, the whole shebang. That’s just my 2 cents. Again, whatever the fuck works for you and your child, and of course as long as no harm is caused, to either of you!
If you’re worried that you don’t have enough tricks up your sleeve, or if you feel your child’s behaviour might be starting to venture outside of the norm, go and see your GP and get a referral to a psych. Or your local Child Health Service should also offer some neat parenting programs for free. You can also check out:
And if you’re a bit ‘awww shit Dr. Sash. You’ve been a bit sketchy on specific discipline ideas’ yep I have. For now. Because every child is different and every strategy caters for different thing. There’s no one size fits all approach. But I’ll get another post out describing alllllll the ideas out there in more detail for you, and if you want a specific issue answered, drop me a message! Pop your query on the Facebook page or message or email and I’ll do my best to get some ideas together for you.
I’ve been absent round these parts lately because…. Well I don’t really have a good excuse. Just busy and blah and brain fried. But just recently I’ve had to hit the ground running back at work (well one of my jobs. They all blur into one crazy mess really), and celebrate (or is that cry myself into a bowl of wine? I’m not sure) the fact that my youngest lass is entering her third year of life. Three. A magical age, isn’t it? We’ve talked about the Fucking Fours, we’ve talked about the Second Child Syndrome. Well, when that is combined with the threenager phase…… it’s time to just hide in a cupboard and comfort eat for a year.
The Christmas tree has been packed away (hallelujah. Sorry, leftover Grinchmas here), fun in the sun has been had. Or sweating half your body weight away, same same. Lazy mornings, relaxed lunches, bedtime routines pushed out a little. Ahhhhh holidays. You so pretty. But then as quickly as it started, suddenly you’re staring down the barrel of routine again. Early morning wake ups, rallying the troops with military precision, organising, preparing…… where’s the wine? What do you mean it’s only 9am??
For some, school is a big part of this equation. It’s like going into labour, head down, intense for 10 weeks, then you breathe for 2 weeks. Rinse and repeat. Happy 2015! For others, it will be their first foray into the wonderful world of having to get your kid to school every.freaking.day. I’ll be one of the newbies, madly kissing my cherub goodbye and spit polishing shoes (probably not. But you get my drift).
I think it’s safe to say we’re all in a bit of shock right now. What has gone on in Sydney is heavy. I mean, there’s lots of heavy stuff going on all over the world, but something so brazen, so full on, happening right here. Right now. I was only in Sydney a couple of short months ago, wandering through those same places with my little ladies. It doesn’t seem real.
As with anything of this magnitude, it is alllllll over the media. On every platform. Some of us cope ok with this, in fact we relish the fact we can keep up in such an immediate manner. For others, it can be a bit much. As adults, we tend to be able to switch off for the most part, but what about children who might have seen something on TV? Or heard something on the radio? Little ones process things in a much different manner to us, they’re still in that black and white, concrete stage of understanding the world.
Of course we all know the most important thing to do for young ones is to try and minimise attention to traumatic events. Try to keep the TV off, or have them occupied in other activities. But in this technological day and age, sometimes it’s not always possible. TV’s on in the windows, other children seeing things and talking. So what can we do to manage any fears and trauma that may arise from exposure to such events?
Talk as openly as age appropriate. Allow children to get their fears out. No need for details but something as simple as ‘yes something pretty bad has happened, but the Police have been right onto it and are there to protect us’
Normalise all feelings. Yes, it’s ok to be concerned, to feel worried. But they are ok, you are ok and we will get through.
Show children ways to calm their bodies down if they are getting physically worked up. Calm breathing (or milkshake breathing), muscular relaxation. This helps distract them from being fixated on the traumatic events, and also physically reduces stress levels
Reframe their thoughts. If they’re fixated on ‘baddies’ and ‘people coming to get them’, help them to reframe to ‘there are so many more good, kind, helpful people around and I have lots of people around me who will look after me’.
For little ones, let them draw. Drawing really can help process many feelings that they struggle with. Playing in sand also is a wonderful way for them to work through any issues they may be experiencing.
Just focus on little steps at a time, if they are scared to go outside. Bring them to the here and now. Step outside and feel the warm sun on our faces. Walk to the letterbox, walk to the end of the street. Slowly build them up
Reduce the amount of ‘what if’s’ which they may worry about. Talk instead about ‘what we know’.
Modelling calm behaviour. Our kids look to us on how to cope in such situations.
Unfortunately trauma happens. And not just on our TV’s. When trauma happens, it’s like our brains hit ‘pause’ to cope, and sometimes if we don’t process properly our brains will keep showing flashes and getting caught in a loop. We need to rewind, review and then allow the video (our brain) to keep playing. Same with children.
There’s been some great tips shared by Jo Lamble, and Dr. Justin Coulson, via Sunrise and the Daily Telegraph respectively. And as always, if your child’s anxieties are over and above what you feel is age appropriate, chat with your GP to seek extra support.
Here’s hoping these tips are some you’ll never have to use with your children. xx
There’s a new brand of crazy in town; the second child. Bugger this middle child shit, second children are sweeping the nation. With their crazed antics. Turning parents’ hair grey. Fraying nerves left, right and centre. All with a cheeky grin and a sass mouth.
In honour of my littlest lady (because, we ALL know we have to be equal with all our children. I don’t want to be chipped for featuring one not the other, you know), I’ve been conducting some market research into the second child. And by market research, I mean whinging to all and sundry “holy shit! My kid is CRAZY! So completely different to her big sister” and then receiving knowing nods, sympathetic eyes, gentle pats on the shoulder and a “yep, my second is a crazed nutter too”. Solidarity. #fistpump So by my really super duper, extensively and scientifically validated market research I have come to a conclusion. There is a syndrome for children that come after the firstborn. I’ve aptly named it “second child syndrome”. Oh yeah, I’m all edgy with my naming of said syndrome.
*NB: It must be noted that this syndrome only applies to our own offspring. It doesn’t apply to us in our own sibset. Oh no no. Because we are awesome and we don’t succumb to stereotypes. Also covering my ass for any second children out there reading this and thinking ‘wtf’.
It’s high noon. The sun is shining through the windows, the tumbleweeds are floating through the hallway (they really are. I haven’t vacuumed in ages. I know, I know). I’m at one end, Miss DP is at the other, trigger fingers at the ready. Eyes, narrowed to slits, staring each other down. This hallway ain’t big enough for the two of us, little lady.
You NEED to get dressed. Your cat dress is in the wash. Your Elsa costume is freaking brown with dirt dude. Pick something else…..!!
And I’m waiting. Waiting for the trigger to fire from the mouth of a 4.5 year old…..
BUT I can’t! My castle is broken. The witches have taken it over. And Betsy doesn’t like shoes.
Well… Wait. What? Did I just blank out for a microsecond and miss something? Did someone smuggle LSD in my coffee? Or did I just watch an episode of ‘In the Night Garden’ and not realise? No. It’s just 4 year old logic. Legit.
The brilliant Lauren from The Thud has put together a wiz-bang, you-beaut series on the lazy ass parents’ guide to Halloween costumes. She’s da bomb, seriously. What can’t this lady do? My lazy assed self rejoiced no end at such quick and easy ideas. But my lazy ass can’t be assed to kick it to that next level of awesomeness. So I suggested sheets over the kids heads. Lauren, being the clever cookie she is, suggested even extending so far as to put eye holes in the sheet. Bless her. She is a devoted Mama. Me on the other hand? I’m all ‘heck, that’s a lot of hard work there’. Let’s go sans eye holes. I call this a lesson in resilience. I am all about good resilience and wellbeing, you know this. Let’s just not talk about the extreme lazy assed, and potentially negligent parenting on my part and we’ll be good.
Anyways I thought this would be interesting for the girls to see how they negotiate a task where one of their senses was taken away. And also in trying something new. See? Always with the angle, aren’t I? Halloween seems to be big business these days, and with it comes a heck load of expectations and excitement from the kiddies. But what if they get no candy? What if they’re given a shit costume? All that hype can lead to a bit of a let down. Some kids can bounce back, while others fall flat. So resilience is pretty handy to have. Same for adults in dealing with sugar highs and insane trick or treaters. Let’s see how my ladies went, shall we? *NB no children were harmed in the making of these lazy assed costumes and ensuing experiment.*
Before I get started, I must warn you. I’m putting my Dr. Phil pants on today. Oh yes siree Bob. My Texan drawl is out. My receding hairline is at its finest. I’m channelling the doc and just saying it how it is. Bear with me, I’ll put him away soon!
It’s funny, I’ve been talking to some friends of late, and just seeing what goes on at one of my jobs, and I find we’re all feeling the same way. We’re all feeling like shit, uncertain of ourselves, trying our hardest to do the best job we can. But yet we humans, sometimes feel the need to run each other down. Over anything and everything. As adults we are constantly comparing- diets, exercise, jobs, partners, money we make. Paleo vs CSRIO. HIIT vs Crossfit. Labor vs Liberal. Thermomix vs…. I don’t know, what did we do before Thermie? (jokes, I don’t even own one. But I hear they’re top notch. Or if you listen to the other side they’re shit and a waste of money. See? MORE RUN DOWNS). She did what? He said that? Uggggh. Happens in adulthood as it is, but when you become a parent? Holy dooley. The opinions. The judgement. The criticism. THE COMPETITION. There’s always a fucking competition. Stay at home Mums vs Working Mums. Working part time vs working fulltime. Daycare centres vs. Family day care. Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding. Watching TV vs not watching TV. Girls vs. boys. Baptism vs naming ceremonies. Private vs public schooling. ENOUGH ALREADY. A darling friend of mine put it perfectly recently when we were chatting “I don’t think motherhood and children should be a sport”. Amen sista! I don’t think life in general should be a sport. Being a grown up sucks enough as it is at times, let alone being in constant competition.