* Timeouts rarely work. Try to respond with something which makes sense. Like if your kid throws around things, they need to clean up (with your help).
* If things get out of hand, I stay with or hold my kid until the situation gets better and then discuss/explain the current situation and how we will act next time.
* It's always good to figure out how your kid feels in a bad situation. Like: "I guess you're feeling <a>, because of <b>?" Sometimes kids do not understand their own feelings and telling them helps them cope better.
* Try to stay calm, always. Sometimes it's hard or even impossible. But getting loud or angry never helps. If I can keep control of myself I usually can control the situation and respond appropriately.
* Your job as a parent is to provide your kid with all necessities of life and with love. Everything else is extra, like toys, sweets, leisure activities. Sometimes it helps to tune down the extras if necessary.
* Admit your errors and say sorry if appropriate.
There's a youtube channel which I actually enjoyed while my youngest one was a bit smaller. It's a bit strange to look for help on parenting stuff on youtube, but a lot of his advice was actually quite good I tought: https://www.youtube.com/user/LiveOnPurposeTV/featured
A timeout can also a good way to allow emotions to cool (on both sides) and facilitate a better discussion. Each of my kids tends to "lose it" in a different direction (anxiety, sadness/crying, anger), and it's definitely important to support them as they work on getting their emotions back under control. This is going to look different for every kid though. My daughter needs space, one of my sons needs physical contact, the other needs a lot of verbal reassurance. It's important to help them find the ways they can work through their "big feelings" in a healthy way.
Your last point is critical. My father had a lot of strengths as a parent, but one thing I _never_ saw him do was apologize (not to me, not to my siblings, not to my mother). It's one thing I have really focused on "doing better" (something my father frequently encouraged me to do)
There was a german parenting TV show a few years ago where the host repeatedly made children of various parents sit somewhere alone until they cooled off. This is the first thing I thought of when cooldown was mentioned. It's somehow easier to be consistent that way: Yelling, hitting, swearing, whatever. The child will know what will happen next and hopefully avoid it.
But cooldown alone stops making sense, when it is used for everything. I think it's better to respond with a consequential task which makes sense according to the cause. Even though it is harder to find and follow through sometimes.
In the first case, emotions may not be that high to start out with (and my never get that high). The timeout is a "self-inflicted" punishment that lasts until they do what's expected of them. There are certainly times when the "Do a thing!"/"No!" loop has spiraled out of control, and in that case the timeout first serves as a cooldown, then a conversation can take place laying out the expectations more clearly.
In the second case, tempers have generally already flared. There is generally an action that needs to take place in the short term ("Apologize to your brother"), and there generally needs to be some sort of punitive consequence. In that case the timeout a) gives tempers a chance to cool, and b) serves the same self-inflicted punishment as before ("You're going to be in timeout until you apologize to your brother"). The other (major) benefit is that it buys time for me to decide on an appropriate punishment outside the heat of the moment.
> There was a german parenting TV show a few years ago where the host repeatedly made children of various parents sit somewhere alone until they cooled off.
I'm not a huge fan of being "alone" as a punishment. For me the concept of "timeout" and "alone" are two separate things. There may indeed be times when being alone is what the kid needs to cool down before they can talk (my daughter is absolutely this way), but I think it's important for that to be their choice (and it's equally important for them know it (can be) an acceptable and healthy choice). For other kids (like both of my boys) being alone is just going to work them up more. I generally spend the first few minutes of a timeout sitting right next to them (or with them on my lap) until they have been able to calm down and we can have a conversation.
It's probably also important to note that we're all just talking about the "ideal" here. I'm sure none of us meet our own ideals as consistently as we'd like...
In general, it is totally fake, and everybody knows this. I'd rather not encourage dishonesty. Granted, dishonesty may be a useful skill, but I think kids can figure it out without parental encouragement.
Sincerity is largely learned by example. It's important for parents to model sincere apologies when they screw up. To each other, to their kids, etc.
If you are directing the behavior due to the child’s action (or it's effects), it's a cobsequence.
A common term for consequences that are nonpunitive but instead correct or mitigate undesired effects of the behavior is “natural consequences”, and there is quite a lot of parenting literature favoring them as generally preferable to other consequences, especially for young children.
You have a choice. You can clean up the mess now or in five minutes. If you clean it up now, I’ll start a timer and I will help for one full minute. If you wait five minutes, you have to clean it yourself.
It’s their mess and their responsibility but there is no reason I can’t help. And these types of choices very often work for us.
In my case I'm happy to help if asked politely (and if it's not being abused). That's separate from the rest of the process though, and applies regardless of how we got to the cleaning up in the first place.
For the two kids that need 'coaching', what happens when you're not around? Will you at some point leave them alone to deal with things solo?
I'm sure every kid is different, but in the case of our daughter, her emotional maturity really seemed to develop around the time she turned four.
For those I still think the timeout is the best tool.
A few steps:
- Control yourself emotionally. You're a role model for your child. Your child can't control their emotion and you can't change their emotion either. But you can control yours.
- Set a firm limit. "I won't let you hit anyone else".
- Stay calm. There is no way your child can calm down if you aren't.
- Connect to your child. There's a reason your child does the thing it does. Why? Figure it out! Be empathic. Acknowledge their need.
- Model them appropriate actions. Show them the best way how to handle a situation like this from now on.
I'm just reiterating things from the youtube channel in the top post. Stuff like this takes time. But it's also normal. Kids simply do not have all the strategies and emotional control to handle some situations appropriately like adults do.
But, be sure that you know. Control yourself. Be a model to them and show them, how it's done. Sooner or later they will (hopefully) adapt your strategy.
And that's why I'm against timeouts. They are not an appropriate response. Imagine getting a timeout of your boss when you get angry with a bug of your co-worker. That would not be an appropriate response either. Your boss would need to show you a strategy, how to handle conflicts now and in the future. Be the same to your kids.
Modulo the differences in kids and situations: I’ve seen timeouts intended as punishments and I agree they typically don’t work (not that punishment “works” particularly well either).
But it can be great as a way to defuse a situation when the participant(s) is/are amped up to the point where they can’t think rationally can not only be useful but be welcome. Adults do this too: they get angry or ovwrstimulated and take a walk to “cool off”. Kids can get amped up by all sorts of emotions, not just anger (which appears to be uncommon in most young kids).
As for punishment: I think it’s mainly for the benefit of the one administering it (something that also carries through to the criminal “justice” system). However facing the consequences of your actions is useful (when the milk spills in your lap you need to change your clothes because sitting in wet sticky clothes is no fun either...so learn. It to spill things). And as kids get older (8+...?), their requirements become more abstract so can the consequences as well. But ideally still connected to the infraction.
Punishment does have its place in behavioral training but is not the first or even third method to rely on. Parents should be first prioritizing on rewarding positive behaviors.
The criminal justice system is a terrible example of punishment used effectively. Punishment in behavioral training is best used in a very tight feedback loop (immediately after action, not after 5 years of court cases) and reliably.
Looks like we disagree.
In general I am opposed to punishment (obviously one cannot be absolute on such a matter) but in particular: the younger the child the less agency and less ability to connect cause and effect, so I consider punishment pretty much ineffective for toddler ages.
But society is a huge parallel processing system so my opinion need not be universal.
Proposing some plausible numbers: raise 2 to the power of their age in years, and the result is how many seconds you have.
It may be a bit low, giving only 3 days at age 18, but you get the idea. Use e to give the 18-year-old a couple years.
I completely agree regarding the criminal justice system.
A good test is whether going away is for the goer's immediate benefit. It should be.
* Better to maintain a "allowed list" VS an "off-limits list" when setting boundaries. 1) The latter is simply not doable and everything you missed legitimately becomes allowed. 2) When in doubt your kid can come to you and ask if something is on the allowed list (something that doesn't make sense with an off-limits list).
* Try not to say "no!". Approach things positively. Better to ask "What are seats made for?" as opposed to "Don't stand on the seats!". When your kid is curious about something that's not allowed say: "This is not made for playing but we can have a look together."
* Timeouts may not work. But you can always cancel the activities with bad behavior.
It basically boils down to teaching a "why yes?" attitude VS "why not?". Make your kid think about what makes sense as opposed to trying out nonsensical things (like coloring the walls etc).
For example (when she was younger), I have a four-wheeled cart for moving things which she wanted to ride in the driveway. I pointed out that she definitely would fall off and land on the concrete at some point, which made her understand she needed to wear protective gear (knee/elbow pads, wrist guards, and a helmet... basically skating/skateboarding gear). Of course, one time I came home from work and my wife told me my daughter needed to tell me something. That something was that she rode the cart without the gear and fell off and injured her hands and her chin by falling face first into the concrete (luckily it was only a minor injury). I don't think she ever tried to ride the cart again, though I wasn't opposed to it (with the proper gear of course).
This is just an anecdote to sort of "illustrate the process" I suppose. I hope it is at least moderately useful. And this makes it sound easy, which it is definitely not. It's tough, but so far it seems to have worked well.
My daughter always comes with all kinds of questions when it's bedtime (and she doesn't want to sleep). Simply answer: "Let's talk about that tomorrow. Now it's time to sleep."
Telling children what you want them to do rather than what you don't want them to do puts the focus on the desired action. A positive outcome is more likely.
It's fascinating how those communication skills you learn as a parent can be used in everyday life. Everything you said also applies if you fill in a leading role in a company.
I usually find timeouts to be more of a cool-down period; both for my kids as well as me. They're never long (I have young kids) so we're talking on the order of a couple of minutes. They provide a good break from whatever it is they were doing and give them a chance to re-approach the situation.
This is entirely opposite of my experience. We do timeouts for harmful things (like hitting newborn baby brother, running into the street) or if he is having a tantrum and isn't cooling down.
We didn't try timeouts until we read https://www.amazon.com/Happiest-Toddler-Block-Cooperative-Fo..., but we do use them now and they seem to be one of the few things that have a lasting effect on my toddler's behavior.
Simple tricks are to tie physical actions to images to help them calm down. "Smell the flowers" then "blow out the candles" instead of "take deep breaths". We ask him to identify his emotion: "Are you frustrated?" "No, I'm sad!" Leading to a chat about the source of the reaction and not just deal with just the physical event.
Instead of a timeout we ask if he wants to go calm his body then come back when he is ready. Our 4 year old has been saying things like "I need to go calm my body!" when he gets upset, which is amazing. If he is in a situation in which he needs to be removed actively we don't treat it like punishment we say "let's go calm our bodies before coming back."
Having a GOAL to the timeout gives your child agency and helps them navigate emotions.
His preschool is actually where most of these techniques come from and they spend a bunch of time identifying feelings and keeping things positive/productive and do things like have the kids jump on a mini-trampoline to burn off excess energy.
If he is hitting someone, I immediately move him away and try to work him through talking/breathing/etc. Most really bad situations can be avoided by putting him in a position to succeed. That just means stuff like don't keep him out until 11pm and don't drag him around unhappily if we can help it. He is only 4 but we try to respect his personhood - he doesn't make the rules but we consider his wants/dislikes and warn him when we know he is going to need to do something he won't like. In turn, he tends to behave better in those situations - he has been on a 13 hour flight with no drama. In his life, has only required a kicking/screaming drag away response maybe once or twice. A lot of that is simply avoiding those situations before they develop.
All kids push boundaries so we try not to set fake goalposts, (i.e. No cake for you if you do this! But then give him the cake anyway.) We only threaten things we are willing to go through with, even if they mean shittiness for everyone. We've left stores before we wanted to, left dinners early and left parties early to avoid meltdowns. While it sucks, those are big events that prove we aren't making empty threats but informing him of real boundaries. When we know we can't uphold something we simply don't threaten it.
He also has a younger brother (2 yrs) and of course they fight over toys often. The progression goes from: "Did you ask or just grab? Can you share/take turns?" If the younger one is grabbing from him (which is more common): "Can you trade/offer him an alternative toy? Can you ask him to wait instead of fighting for it?" If none of that works, I take the toy away for a while and say "that's the rule". It's great to blame the "rules" because they can't argue against them.
We ran into this problem. Our oldest would just hit him again 5 minutes after the timeout. It got to the point where she would hit him, say "timeout!" and go to her timeout spot. She hated the timeout (she cried during it), but she decided it was worth it.
She basically took every chance she could to hurt him. If she was walking by him, she would purposefully step on his fingers. Or hip check him. Or smack him on top of his head.
We tried pretty much everything, and nothing worked. Ultimately she grew out of the behavior after about 8 months.
When we tried to explain things, she would mostly just ignore our words and change the subject. There was even a period of time where even mentioning "baby" would cause her to yell "NO BABY!".
BTW, you might have heard of the "terrible twos". But the "threenager" stage was much worse for us.
Some of the defiance is kinda funny, depending upon your sense of humor. Like when my wife said "I hope when you get older you call mommy to tell her how much you love her", and she said "I'm going to call you to tell you how much I don't love you."
It's a lot better now, but she has always been pretty persistent and strong willed. At the end of the day, you get what you get. We have some friends with the most amazingly behaved first child that didn't care for our kid's behavior and some of the stuff we just let her do. Then their second kid was more like ours and after that they had more sympathy.
Did you smack her?
Worked first time to stop a child running on to the road for me, never needed to repeat it. Other kids in my care have learnt without that necessity, thankfully.
The twins bite her when she does something they don't like. Doesn't stop her from doing those things they don't like either.
Often when young kids do harmful things they are not really "thinking" in that moment. Sometimes it is hard for them to even recognize it as something "they did" as opposed to something that happened to them. Strong emotions, to a little kid, are things that happen to them, not things they do. They don't understand why they do things, sometimes.
The heart of raising a young kid to behave properly is teaching them to understand and manage their emotions. We tell our kid, "you feel angry, and that's ok. It's ok to feel angry. However, you're still responsible for how you behave." And we give her appropriate options for dealing with feeling angry. One of the tools we've taught her is a cooling off period, but we don't label it a "time out" like a punishment. As she has gotten older, she gives them to herself sometimes!
I've smacked and ended self-destructive behaviour immediately and permanently (with ongoing reinforcement); done timeout and simply made a child distraught and supremely insecure.
Horses for courses, as they say. [That is, people vary and what works for one person will not work for another.]
Slight aside, isn't all correction for "harmful things" just at different levels of harm? I don't for example correct my children's "poor manners" in putting their elbows on the table because I don't consider it harmful in any substantial way; presumably my parents found it harmful enough to chastise me over otherwise why would they do so. My presumption is that they felt I'd be somewhat excluded by polite society for failing to adopt societal norms of table manners.
You can be with your child during a timeout. It’s not jail.
We have "thinking timeouts" where we got to their room or somewhere quiet with them and sit with them until they are calm enough to think
Say I’m really angry at my wife. If she leaves me alone after an argument I might go crazy for hours, throwing things at the wall, and cursing for a long time. It’s like my brain gets into an infinite loop and without new stimulus, I am just stuck there.
What works better is if she try to talks to me maybe 10 minutes after the incident. I don’t want to get into a loop and want to get out but can only do it with help or some new stimulus.
Does this happen with kids? I remember this happening when I was sent to my room as a child, but I’m bipolar so maybe it’s just me.
With my kid, he sometimes does not cool down during a tantrum until he goes in his room for timeout for a few minutes, and he is always measurably calmer after timeout. The recommended timeout time is 1 minute per year of age - it's not like they're abandoned for hours.
The other observation I made was that it doesn't take much of a consequence at all to make this work. My initial intuition was to scale the "punishment" by the severity of the incident, but really, a 5-10 minute timeout does just as much good as a longer one, and is much easier to apply. Anything you can do reliably and without effort would, in my case, almost always work; the point is to avoid the power struggle.
One of the children in my care always pushes the issue to a power struggle, regardless of how much one seeks to avoid it. They're very clever and try to manipulate the situation to apportion blame to the care-giver when it should rest with themselves. Frustrating and impressive in equal measure.
We scale timeouts according to age, 1min per year. Truly longer timeouts (for us) just result in punishment then ending up focusing on the timeout and the subject's failure to abide by the rules of timeout; which causes escalation.
Making me nervous...
I have not used YouTube yet for parenting but I would imagine it's a great resource. That book is kinda lengthy but I think YouTube, podcast is easy to consume for busy parents. I haven't finished that book yet and I got it a few months ago grin.
But you're right, the biggest thing was consistency. The kids were being given "timeouts" but if they moved out of them or cried the parents simply gave up. She essentially had the parents follow through and be consistent. Ditto with bedtime routines and similar. The name wasn't meant to be significant.
It is "reality TV" but the core of her method is pretty old school and simple. I actually WOULD recommend watching it (particularly the UK version, US one has janky editing) if you can find it. Except for the dumb voice-overs it was a pretty straight forward/to the point show that simply repeated the same basic concepts with different families.
I think people use timeouts wrong. Timeouts are not for my kid, they're for me. So that I can get a handle on how I'm feeling and actually respond in a way that is appropriate, and not with anger.
I'm twenty five and I still have this. Someone suggesting what I might feel a still helps sometimes. Not sure if that's just me, though.
But the meta-point is: kids are all different. Parenting advice happens to be mostly written by people whose children are already pretty well behaved and don't need much (if any) correction. These people think that they're really great at parenting, but in all likelihood the larger reason is that their children aren't shitheads to begin with. Not everyone is lucky like that, and humans are _very_ hard to debug. This is particularly annoying if the parent wasn't a shithead him/herself: there's this implicit assumption that the kids will be just like parents, but there's no guarantee whatsoever that it'll turn out like that.
In fact anecdotal evidence from my friends would suggest that very few people are "lucky". Only two kids (out of something like 30 in my circle) are what I'd call "good kids". One is a really smart girl (good at math, plays chess, in general just tends to do what's good for herself), and another kid has mild Asperger's, so he's in his own world: does super well in the accelerated program in school, knows how to code, but doesn't know how to interact with people, at all, and has no friends, or desire to have friends.
Your other points are decent though.
* Your job as a parent is to teach your children to ensure they are functioning adults at 18.
This accomplished two things. First, they never had to back down on a punishment, because they were careful to only threaten me with things they could stand behind. That meant I never felt any urge to misbehave to call their bluff. Proving parents wrong is irresistible to kids, so if you threaten a punishment you can't follow through on, you've just given them a reason to do the thing you're told them not to. Even if you punish them in another way, it's worth it just to prove you wouldn't do what you said.
Second, it forced me to actively imagine what an appropriate punishment would be. To get into their heads and imagine how they would punish me, I had to think about why my behavior was wrong from their point of view. Kids spend a lot of time arguing against their parents, in their heads as well as out loud, and I think many kids don't have enough occasion to go through the opposite process of thinking with their parents to try to predict their behavior.
But the corollary of this is that the closer and happier the family is, the lighter the punishments need ever be. For some children even the idea that they're being officially punished is punishment enough.
Weird aside, but sometimes when my wife and I have a conflict, I may go for a walk to clear my head, and I’m typically not interested in being intimate for a while after the conflict. She refers to this as "punishment", which seems like an odd way to describe me needing some space for a bit.
In psych terms it's a negative punishment (something was removed to seeks to reduce a behaviour). Your motivation might be different but the felt action is identical.
My method is that I tell my kid to go to his room and that there will be consequences. I don't define them. Usually after I've calmed down I ask him which consequences he thinks he deserves. This also gives me and my wife time to get our heads together and discuss as well. Which really helps us stay on the same page on bigger issues.
Thanks for the validation from the other perspective.
Another tip is that if you see your kid either doing or about to do something you don't approve of, you can slowly close the physical distance so that you can intervene in a non-reactionary way.
Lastly, when it comes to predictability, I totally agree with the author. But don't be too hard on yourself. You're going to establish all sorts of bad patterns. Just establish the new pattern, suffer through the couple days of reaction to change, and move forward. My toddler is much better at adopting new normals than I am.
A lot of this I learned from being a classroom teacher and also from listening to Janet Lansbury's podcast (https://www.janetlansbury.com/podcast-audio/).
Don't forget to actually think about it and give the response. Make a note of it and show your child that you did create a reminder.
Later, after you've thought of it, remind your child by showing them that note and let them know the outcome.
This way, next time you say "let me think about it" your child will believe that a resolution will actually come later. Showing your child the note will reinforce that you will be thinking about this.
Another point about answering their request at a later time. It also gives your child a cooling off period. They may want something in the heat of the moment. Immediately replying "no" while they're heated about something could unnecessarily upset them. By the time you reply, they could have lost interest.
But I know from my experience with high school kids and with managing adults that people sort the peers and authority figures in their life into the buckets of "dependable", "needs follow-up", and "chaotic". It's like a credit rating. Maintaining that trust keeps a whole lot of other relationship dynamics healthier.
Most of us learn at an early age that "We'll see" means "No"
I'm using a weekly calendar to explain what we're doing on different days of the week.
Each morning, I have him mark the current day. We talk about what we're doing today, what we did yesterday, what we're doing tomorrow and the rest of the week.
After a few months of doing it, he can point to a day of the week and mention the activity we'll be doing.
Thankfully, kids have fairly short memories about a lot of things. After a while they won't even remember you ever did things a different way.
I’m not saying let them do whatever they want. I’m saying have activities, healthy snacks, whatever in place that are acceptable to you and your child and that you can say yes to when they want them.
The other thing is that her approach has a very nuanced logic to it. There's kind of a gestalt behind it that's a bit hard to internalize from individual examples. I should probably just read her books, which I'm guessing would be a more direct way to understanding her full philosophy.
Well, it wasn't yet boiling and I was holding him and could pull him away, so I let him gingerly put a finger into the water. He cried, we washed his finger in cold water, and a few minutes later all was well. Since then I've never, ever had to worry about him near anything hot, even as a toddler. And more generally when I tell him something is dangerous he internalizes it well--doesn't mean he won't refrain from something, though. Maybe the carefulness is more likely a coincidence or his nature, but the lesson about hot things burned into his consciousness.
It's obvious in retrospect, but I guess a parents job isn't to prevent their kid from hurting themselves, it's to make sure that when they hurt themselves only the lesson is lasting. More recently it's become evident to me that not only do they need to hurt themselves to learn, but it's important to make it a positive experience, the pain notwithstanding. For example, now whenever toddler #2 falls down on the pavement my refrain is "good fall!", and I imitate dusting my hands off. I'll keep my distance unless it looks like she needs help getting up or consoling, but try to do it calmly and positively. Now, a couple of months into it, whenever she falls she jumps up, smiles, and brushes her hands, even if she's scraped. I did something like this with her brother but never so deliberately and consistently.
Somewhat relatedly: I think it depends on the kid and the family, but neither of my kids respond well to loud voices, no matter if well meaning or urgent. It was frustrating for me to change my habits because when I was growing up elevated voices weren't negative, just a signal to pay attention. Maybe it's genetic or maybe just how their mother has habituated them, but if I elevate my voice they invariably take it negatively. They seem to pay attention better and react more positively if I modulate my voice. Being conscientious about my voice also causes me to think twice about how I respond, even in imminent situations like you describe. Unless there's a risk of permanent brain injury or mutilation (at home, at least, usually self-evident), I try to tell myself to stop and slow down and consider whether I should just let nature take its course. It's worth the risk. That is, most of the time it's worth the risk to wait a second to consider the situation rather than just reacting, and if you do react it's then easier to do it calmly.
Not preaching, just sharing. It all definitely depends on the parent and the kid and the situation, but I've learned a lot from people sharing their parental experiences and anecdotes on HN, even when I disagreed or didn't find it applicable.
Those are of course situations where immediate action IS necessary. It's a judgement call, but the point seems to be that if it's not a mortal danger, then don't overreact.
I think you just have to wing it and do your best. Just be intuitive and as empathetic as possible with your kids.
So when my son was a toddler and through his food on the floor, me taking the food away caused a tantrum and made that moment worse. However, the next day (or whatever) when he had the same food, it was much less likely he would throw it on the ground because you could see him remembering what had happened before.
I think of it as teaching my future kid ;)
And so far, it still holds up (my son is 10). If he is arguing too much with his friends, the discussions I have with him about it rarely fix the immediate problem, but I can see it have an impact on future situations. "Dad, my friends were being mean to me, but I remembered we talked about how sometime I talk over them, so I stopped talking as much and they started being nice to me again." Stuff like that.
Also: parenting is fucking hard, I agree, and 100000% agree on being empathetic with them. By far the biggest phrase I use that helps with my son is, "Buddy, growing up can be really tough, and we're here to help as much as we can!"
At the same time that you're training your toddler not to throw his food on the floor; he's training you not to take it away. Conditioning goes both ways.
The recommendations are constantly changing... so clearly none if it is perfect.
All the time-consuming "just hang out with them and talk to them like humans! Hug them for ten minutes! Make them complex, healthy dishes for every meal! I do it and it all works so well! I mean I also have a night nanny and cleaning service but I won't mention that..." goes out the window when one kid's about to kill themselves with furniture, somehow, you're not sure where another snuck off to but you suspect the worst, the third's making some god-awful noise in the other room that you're pretty sure will end up being expensive one way or another (oh no... did they make that sound or did the dog?) and meanwhile if you take your eyes of this sauce for one second it's gonna burn and it'll be pizza night... again.
Yes it's not constantly like that but it's always kinda like that. I understand it gets better when they're older. And I've heard from multiple people with four or five that the difficulty levels off after three kids. Up to three it's certainly non-linear. When for some reason we're down to one it's about as easy as having zero, now. Yeah, I bet whatever crap you read about on the Internet works, one-kidder. F*cking anything would. One's nothing.
Some people feel that after the third, you just accept chaos as your life. But I don't think it's strictly a quantity.
I think it's a timing issue. Multiple infants and toddlers are a nightmare to manage. One is ok, because you can dedicate all of your resources to it.
When you're having your fourth kid, your first is going to be around 3 at the youngest. But typically what I've seen is that the first is closer to 6 to 10 by the time the fourth comes along.
At that age, the kid is ready to start taking on some responsibility around the house. Your burden gets lighter to some degree. They're more autonomous, you don't have to worry that they're just going to accidentally kill themselves as much.
It's OK. Internet parenting advice (or any that comes from the latest trendy book) rarely survives contact with an enemy that outnumbers you. That's normal. Be nice and attentive when you can but don't beat yourself up for not taking 15min to calm your 4-year-old down then walk them through Plato's notion of Justice when they're hitting their brother for the 5th time in as many minutes. You have not failed when you have to choose between that stuff and getting the kids out the door to wherever you have to be, or dinner on the table, or clothes washed, or whatever. And when someone else tells you how some system or other they read about on some parenting blog works so great and is so gentle and nice and it's just crazy that anyone would ever yell at their kids for any reason, smile and nod and silently wish them smart, energetic, willful twins next time around.
[EDIT] and it's not the living hell that that read like, now that I look back over that, it's just that discipline problems tend to shoot up the more kids are around and they tend to cluster, and they tend to crop up when you're otherwise busy, for obvious reasons, so when you need to bust out your strategy for dealing with bad behavior it's gotta be fast and take very little of your time or it ain't gonna last long. When things are bad, they're bad. Usually they're fine.
In any life situation, people who have experienced that situation have more relevant than those who don't.
There is a lot of well meaning, but completely impractical parenting advice out there that does nothing but make parents feel like failures. The best thing a parent can do in order to maintain sanity is learn to completely ignore 95% of all advice others give them.
Just do the best you can do... that is all that you really can do in the end.
Then one day my aunt told me she was mad at her father for being "too logical" when raising her because it gave her unrealistic expectations.
Then I started to question everything... If a parent never misbehaved is a kid going to be thrown for a loop when they meet emotional teachers? Did my own fathers weaknesses force me to develop greater strengths?
I'm not in favor of being a bad person to teach people how to deal with bad people. Chances are, despite your best efforts, you'll do plenty of bad stuff anyway.
Where logic and emotion come into this is anyone's guess, but showing some affection is a good idea in a household, as is showing how to deal with negative feelings.
Instead of protecting them from it, the kids started to freak out whenever the parents went to the car.
The moral is: you can't protect your kids from anything, and overthinking it rarely works. There is no such thing as perfect parenting where you protect your kid from all problems. Just do your best and things will work out.
> If a parent never misbehaved is a kid going to be thrown for a loop when they meet emotional teachers?
I would teach/explain to my kid(s) that not everyone is like me or you, or anyone else. Some people prioritize emotions over logic, even to their own detriment. Not everyone is like that, most people make decisions based on emotion, but stop short of hurting themselves too badly. Etc.
I would also give them the opportunity to discover this for themselves, not have it be a surprise when they go out on their own for the first time. I'm a scout leader, I have the kids interact with adults when we go places instead of myself. They need to build confidence and ability to work with people in other age groups.
Children do not listen to their parents for very long.
A decent school, technology like a laptop, and maybe an awareness to dissuade bad friends. That seems like all you can do.
I disagree with that. I listened to my dad growing up because I respect him and think he is a good person. I probably would have gotten into more things if that hadn’t been the case.
I have experienced so many tantrums of other people's children when they surprise their children with home time when the child is completely engrossed in playing. Children are constantly making their own plans and may have been expecting their turn with a toy or be only half-way through building something when they are told to pack up and leave. If it was me I'd be furious too.
I like to give a few warnings so that they can get a feel for how long they have left and I tell them to start thinking about packing up, to get to a checkpoint as soon as they can so they can save their game and if they are waiting their turn with something, now would be a good time to have a final swap over.
I can't recall a time when my kids had a tantrum at leaving time.
One such study here:
Similarly, sending a child to a school with a culture of academic achievement, where doing well increases their social status, will have better outcomes.
Simply put, childrens' peers influence their development more than their parents, but parents do have some control over who those peers are.
We’ve also found devices are gold for discipline. Our routine is 20 min before bed on weekdays, 20 min after meals on weekends. Usually we just have to threaten losing screen time, ie if I ask them to pick up theirs shoes 5 times the sixth time will be “or else”.
Generally consistency is key, and picking your battles as the author alludes to.
There is one downside to raising children in a consistent, predictable, and logical environment. That is; they’re less prepared to deal with chaotic people and situations as adults.
If it seems like something is not working for you, don't try to force it.
If in doubt, love over punishment. Don't lose your temper.
It's great training, and not to be discounted. But having a haven of stability in the home is an essential counterbalance.
Based on my own childhood, I both totally agree with the premise and come to a fairly opposite conclusion: home must be a haven since it is the only place that has any reasonable chance of being a haven. School almost certainly won't be; other kids can be real assholes sometimes.
I've seen a lot of people that went to private schools really not understand just how stupid can be nor how such people think, because their world was chopped off at something like a 105 IQ floor.
Some would argue that any delayed punishment is less likely to be understood (and so more likely to foster resentment) than one that's carried out immediately.
What I do have is near complete control of their environment so I use that to enforce limits. They can’t engage in some behavior I don’t like if they’re not in a position where they can do it. If they won’t stop messing with the remote, I hide it or move them to another room. If he won’t share toys with his brother, I put the toys away, if he’s acting out in a tantrum, I remove him from the room.
There’s no point being angry at what a toddler does, they literally can’t control themselves sometimes.
In any case, even if they are aware that something is 'right' or 'wrong', I don't think that doing something that we've defined as wrong for them deserves 'punishment' in the way that you would punish an adult who has a fuller understanding of actions and consequences.
I suspect the "good cop/bad cop" parenting thing is inevitable in most relationships (it's certainly the default for me and my wife). It's something we try to be very aware of and intentional about (I think it can be pretty destructive if allowed to go unchecked).
> One thing we’ve learned is that time out with an angry child is not especially effective. So as our kids have gotten older we will have them owe us a time out for when they’re more calm and can actually get something from it.
Our view is that the timeout is most effective when a kid is angry (or in any out of control emotional state). The timeout provides a time and space to get emotions under control, then we can have a conversation with cooler heads about expectations and consequences.
We haven't figured out timeouts at all.
Do things differently in the weekend.
<music>Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine...</music>
Expecting parent. Can’t wait for September when my daughter is due!
> Like tantrum at a restaurant, take them outside till they cool off.
Our youngest had a gold-plated tantrum (with screaming turned up to 11) on a flight with me last summer, triggered by me insisting that she fasten her lap belt.
Short of carrying a tranquiliser gun (joke!) I'm not sure what one can do with an over-tired, over-excited 2 year-old in these situations, apart from try not to get into them in the first place.
Hope your kid 2 doesn't destroy all your certainties about children :)
I just mean that daycare services (at least the ones I've seen) are not staffed 1:1 so the average wait time for children who say need a diaper change is probably higher than a stay a home parent with a single child.
"Timeout" doesn't mean "being along" (it may, and that may be helpful for some kids, but it's definitely not for all of them). I have spent many timeout sessions sitting on the bottom step alongside one of my kids while they're losing it next to me (or on my lap, or wrapped in a bear-hug). Eventually (in my case) they calm down, and we'll generally have a bit of a conversation, and then I'll generally leave them alone for a minute or two (mostly to give them a chance to process our conversation and "reset" the situation).
After about 16 years of observation two of their kids have graduated (one with honors) and the older they get, the more decent they have become, very similar to their parents.
What I learned: Kids will turn out like their parents. And poorly skilled parents can still raise decent and well behaved kids.
Who you are and how you treat people is more important than technical skills to get your kids to behave.
One issue they had was their kids stayed up too late, didn't get enough sleep and screamed a lot near the end of the day. They were late to school (in elementary level) because the parents were tired too.
I think this is objectively bad parenting... but I could be wrong.
Edit: since I got one down vote let me add > they scream at their kids regularly (daily, sometimes the normal tone), let them play video games endlessly without supervision, and many other odd things. Kept a dog in a crate permanently in the house where it crapped and screeched at everyone. The list is long... Look at my other comments, I don't want to keep piling things on, but do some pretty outlandish things as parents.
Or, rather, the actual most important “technical skill to get your kids to behave”, in the long term view is modelling the behavior you want to see.
I've turned my family around from some pretty bad behavior simply by changing how I act. If they don't change automatically to follow, I may have to point out the change I made, and that I expect them to as well.
I have seen hard working, successful parents produce lazy, unmotivated adults who are still living at home in their early to mid twenties with no plans to attend school or find any way to support themselves.
It's still definitely nature and nurture when it comes to producing functional adults as a parent.
Kids do not always turn out like their parents and we have thousands of years of written history to prove it.
But I certainly would claim "always", but I would say that if parents are absent, it's less likely they will copy their parents.
Perhaps that is the key difference? My friends spend time with their kids, even if it isn't "quality time". Maybe neglectful parents can't don't pass on good traits as easily?
Keep in mind, I like these people, odd as they are, we just don't participate in much of what they do/have done that I disagree with. Our friendship overlaps a nice quiet area in life where we barbequed together, and mostly relax and let kids play or school activities. They do sometimes overcompensate it odd ways, sending their kids to camps and overly involved in sports and outside school stuff.
But they are kind, helpful, hard workers. And despite the fact that they don't do many things well, they do spend time with their kids.
Maybe there's something valuable about time spent, even if it's not "well" based on parenting experts advice?
Again, these are friends of ours who we care about, but they did some things that seemed selfish. But again, their adult children and decent and so far well adjusted.
I have kids too, eventually you are done doing the baby-chores like diaper duty. It is exhausting at times, but it's not forever.
My 4 year old is a really soft, sweet and sensitive boy. Just saying something like “it would be great if you cleaned up that mess of Duplo!” results in him immediately doing it. So is my tip to get kids to clean up “just suggest they do it?” No, because it will probably not work on most other kids who are more stubborn and less sensitive to maintaining a positive atmosphere.
Things like consistency (try to set as few rules as possible, but if you do set them, enforce them without exceptions), deciding ahead of time and sticking to it assertively (do not change your decision based on pleading), calmness (dogs do not follow or listen to people who are agitated and nervous), avoiding too much control (do not issue too many commands), enforcing control (when you do issue a command, it needs to be obeyed, and not repeated), and punishment (calm, immediate, understandable, predictable and linked to the transgression) — you can learn all of those while properly raising a dog.
Also, never lie to your kid (or dog) and answer their every question seriously.
The trick is to always let them be successful at reaching the goal, slow down as much as needed, say "two and half, two and three quarters......", they should never find out that I have absolutely nothing planned for the case when it finally fails.
And yes, 10 more times down the slide can easily turn into 9 times in a row and holding on to that 10th time for as long as possible.
Counting slides is something I don't intend to do, because I am not actually interested in micromanaging those 5 minutes.
Both you and the OP are right. Phrasing like this example though should help. This way it's not you restricting the kid, and there's no hard requirement.
If they try to drag it out, you tell the kid that they had the time; it was their choice to take longer than usual to go down the slide those last few times.
That explaination also helps them realize that they can choose to either make the best of a situation or the worst of a situation, but the situation will happen regardless (the time limit).
Once or twice a year I like to throw my kids into a pit-maze, which I've been digging for the past several months, and fill it with various kinds of dangerous creatures and turn on strobe lights.
Do they hate it? Sure the ones who make it out definitely do, but that's life. I'm preparing them for life.
That said, one thing this article really gets right is the importance of not letting your emotions control your mouth and making threats/promises that you can't/won't keep. I also think it's very important that when you screw up while parenting (and you will screw up), that you be sure to take responsibility and apologize to your children. I think a lot of parents think apologizing will make them look weak or diminish their authority, when it's really the opposite.
Sure, read books and articles to learn strategies you can try, tools for your toolbox, but ultimately, "relax–you'll figure it out!" is the best advice. Most parents care immensely about their children & this fact is more likely to lead them to parent well than any article or "tip."
Source: I've been a parent about my entire adult life (since 20), I have 4 kids, I've read a ton of stupid parenting articles, as a young parent everyone felt comfortable giving me parenting advice.
The ability to modify behavior by singing a couplet from a story I read -- no raising of voices, or wagging of fingers -- was revelatory.
It's from the waldorf educational tradition.
The worst thing about some of this is these days so many of us are stuck leaving our kids with day care/school so much of the time, and plenty of these "professionals", don't get this stuff.
Day care here ran about $2k/month and the education level of the teachers was just not up to par for that amount of money. I always wondered where the money was going, they all had college degrees but got paid 1/2 or less what public teachers do in this area. There was a ton of bragging from management at the day care about how great the academic start was (this chain even brags about higher SAT scores!) and I think it was mostly hogwash. I was always thinking someone was making a lot of money on the day cares as it was not hard to figure out their approximate gross revenue/month. So often the day care was making things worse... take one step forward at home and 2 steps back at day care.
Thankfully my child is in public school now, we have a great school system, and the teachers are a million times better at dealing with this stuff in productive ways.
Here is an article that introduces the ideas:
Here is his book, that has full details and many examples:
Institute a safe word with your child. It goes both ways, no exceptions. When the safe word is issued, whatever was safeworded stops.
Typical rules of safe words, but my kid is 15 and we still use the safe word when things are going wayward (jokes, fights, annoyances, repetitions, references). Probably started it when he was 1 or 2.
Second favorite bit of advice:
Routines (brushing teeth, going to bed, leaving the house) should be as close to silent, w/r/t instructions, as possible. Talk to each other, but don't negotiate "whatever's next" or "c'mon" or "hurry up".
I've never used a "safe word" for anything else but it's an interesting idea.
*for example an impression of a person who gives far too detailed explanations, or singing a repetitive song with no end
My girlfriend and I may be in the car with my son, and the conversation may steer into very adult territory, the kind of thing that makes my son uncomfortable, and after a bit of the talking, we'll hear a moderately voiced "baaaadingo..." from the backseat, which we know means he thinks we've gotten too far into adult-land and he's not feeling comfortable.
But sometimes when we lose our tempers, the safe word can be a gift. He's 15, his teenager-ness is kicking in just about now, and we can use the safe word to disrupt a self-esteem spiral. He'll stop whatever rant he's on, and sit down and wait it out. The safe word most often stops a behavior and introduces silence... everyone can use that gift regularly enough.
Have you had situations where this "safe-word" is used where you felt the situation wasn't severe enough to require shutting down, and asked your son to try to communicate his needs in plain language?
The safe-word sounds useful but I know that for my kids I would not be comfortable with them "pulling the fire alarm" merely because a discussion was uncomfortable for them, I'd ask them instead to find a way to make their request in plain English. My concern with overuse is the "safe-word" turning into a _substitute_ for expressing one's needs clearly.
Cool system tho! I might try it out.
Kid 1 does something too repetitive.
Kid 2: "badingo!"
Kid 1 stops, but does something else too repetitive.
Kid 1: "You're saying badingo too many times. Badingo!"
Kid 2: "badingo badingo badingo badingo badingo!"
Kid 1: "badingo times infinity!"
Kid 2: MOM!
Actually that kind of discussion impresses me because it shows they comprehend infinite loops and recursion at some level.
I did date a woman who had two daughters.. she needed a safe word in their dynamic but tried introducing it too late in the game.
I think you have to start this one early.
My only data point is my SO. No matter how many times I try to coach my SO on these very simple parenting rules, she just doesn't get it. She makes threats she cannot follow through with, she doesn't think of simple "if you do this then we'll do that" tricks, and doesn't use the simple 1-2-3 timeout method.
All that stuff seems very intuitive to me. But I think some people just don't get it and never will.
> Similarly, adults understand that you don't have authority over everyone around you, but with kids phrasing like "Mama can read to you when we get home" isn't as good as "I'll ask Mama if she'll read to you when we get home." Or, even better, "when we get home you can ask Mama if she'll read to you.
Reminds me of a piece I read here a while ago  about how Mr. Rogers would intentionally phrase things very carefully on his show in order to avoid ambiguity. He also emphasized phrasing things in a way that gave the child some insight into the reasoning and a sense of responsibility - so they could feel good about doing the right thing instead of just learning blind obedience.
https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Shoot-Dog-Teaching-Training/dp/1... was a radically eye-opening book for me, particularly as it related to parenting. I don't believe that hitting, or yelling, or other forms of intimidation, or time outs, or the concept of punishment at all is either good or ultimately effective. And anecdatally that approach has worked out great for us and our kids.
We find timeouts to be quite effective, and we use the clear "you need to do X or it's a timeout" and then clearly counting to three. This is often after a few attempts to ask in a regular tone of voice and/or cajole. In fact I have found the number of timeouts we actually give has decreased dramatically, and just counting does the trick now when we need them to respond quickly.
My wife and I were both classroom teachers in the past, so we've both been able to use some of those tools with our kids. We do of course let them be kids, let them have their occasional freak-out moments, and we couch all of this in a lot of love, affection, and communication.
This is a subtle difference but works well. The default for most people is you get to play electronics. If you are bad we are taking them away. Instead, the default should be you do X, Y and Z, to earn the privilege to play with electronics. This is every single day.
Instead of you didnt clean your room, you dont get to play electronics. It would be, you cleaned your room, you earned some electronics time.
>>> Mahatma Gandhi’s son Manilal Gandhi moved to South Africa to carry on the work his father had left behind – fight against injustice and discrimination. One day, Manilal had a daylong meeting in Johannesburg and he asked his son, Arun Gandhi, to drive him there.
Arun thought this would be a good opportunity to also get his car serviced. They left for the meeting in the morning. In Arun’s words:
I dropped my father off for his meeting and got the car to the garage by one. Since it was a long time until five o’clock, I figured I could go to the movies, which I did. That day there was a double feature being shown, and when I got out I checked my watch and realized that it was past five o’clock!
I rushed to the corner where my father had said he would be waiting for me, and when I saw him there, standing in the rain, I tried to think of excuses I could make. I rushed up to him and said, ‘Father, you must forgive me. It is taking them longer to repair the automobile than I thought it would take, but if you wait here I will go and get the car. It should be ready by now.’
My father bowed his head and looked downward. He stood for a long moment and then he said, ‘When you were not here at our meeting time I called the garage to see why you were late. They told me that the automobile was ready at three o’clock. Now I have to give some thought as to how I have failed, so as to have a son who would lie to his own father. I will have to think about this, so I am going to walk home and use the time during my walk to meditate on this question.’
I followed my elderly father home that rainy, misty night, watching him stagger along the muddy road. I rode behind him with the headlights of the car flashing ahead of his steps. And as I watched him stumbling towards home, I beat on the steering wheel and said over and over, ‘I will never lie again! I will never lie again! I will never lie again!'
What struck me as particularly interesting in this story was how Manilal didn’t shame his son, he didn’t start shouting at him or telling him how Arun had failed him as a son. Instead, he seemed to have understood one thing clearly: children do love their parents. They may act or behave otherwise but deep down they love their parents and need their parents’ love and presence in their lives. We can never inspire anyone to do anything by creating fear in their minds or by shaming them. We may force a child – or even an adult – to do something and they may do it well temporarily, but to instill in them a lifelong habit or to inspire them, love remains the only potent weapon. And no, by this I don’t mean mollycoddling. I simply mean embracing a sense of acceptance.
What about reward?
BTW: Y'all really need to friend-up your grandmas on Facebook.