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How to parent more predictably (2018) (jefftk.com)
555 points by wheresvic1 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 248 comments



There are a few things which helped me get better at parenting:

* 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


I don't think the two options you present in your first point are mutually exclusive. Cleaning up the mess is not a "consequence", it is simply the expected behavior. Failing to clean up the mess is what results in the timeout. We frequently use "timeout until you clean up the mess". The consequence ends as soon as the appropriate behavior starts.

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)


The way you describe a timeout makes sense. There can only be a meaningful interaction among both parties when emotions are under control. I also tell my kid to take a minute off and calm down first if necessary.

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.


I think there are two major categories of situations where a correction is needed. Times when an excepted behavior is not taking place ("Clean up that mess") and times when an unacceptable behavior has already taken place (Sibling A hit Sibling B).

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...


I've always been bothered by the "Apologize to your brother" idea.

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.


It establishes the expected behavior. You're absolutely right that it doesn't teach sincerity, but that's not the point. It builds the habit, and it forces acknowledgement that another party was harmed (even if they lack the empathy to care about that yet, empathy starts with awareness).

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.


I agree with this sentiment but I think "apologizing even when you don't feel like you did anything wrong" is the kind of dishonesty that's absolutely necessary to get by in society and that you should definitely teach your kids.


It’s also about showing the sibling that was hit that you as a parent consider the behavior unacceptable. They need to feel that grownups react, even if they realize the apology is fake.


Absolutely not: it's essential, because all but psychopathic people learn how to do things for real by going through the actions. This is essential training.


> Cleaning up the mess is not a "consequence", it is simply the expected behavior.

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.


Yeah, I was using the scare quotes to indicate I was using the term loosely, and colloquially.


How I would address the mess is like this:

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.


I'm realizing I'm apparently a fan of decoupling parenting...

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.


> 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.

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?


Yeah, for context, they just turned three (twins). I don't expect them to have perfected emotional coping skills at this point (though they're certainly both well on their way).

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.


I would love to have an alternative to timeouts for hitting and saying mean things.

For those I still think the timeout is the best tool.


Yeah, stuff like this is bad. As a parent you need to stop this. Gets harder the older they are. But how?

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.


The "timeout" is not a punishment in response to an action, it's a way to defuse the situation and facilitate the sorts of conversations you're describing.


The timeout makes many children even more angry and on top of that angry on their parent, who they should trust.


We see e


> “* Timeouts rarely work.”

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.


The purpose of a timeout for toddlers / small children is to have a negative (but not harmful) consequence they understand so they can make a choice as to whether to continue a certain behavior or not. There are very few appropriate negative consequences available that a toddler will understand.

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.


> The purpose of a timeout for toddlers / small children is to have a negative (but not harmful) consequence they understand...

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.



They can connect cause and effect if you are consistent and very fast.

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 see timeouts as a chance for emotional thinking to subside and return to more rational thoughts. They intervene during undesired behaviors, and provide a place to complete the behavior (tantrum).

I completely agree regarding the criminal justice system.


As used in this thread starter, "time out" means being sent away as punishment. Going to "cool off", or to use physical separation to end/prevent conflicts, is a not a punishment "time out".

A good test is whether going away is for the goer's immediate benefit. It should be.


Also:

* 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).


With my daughter, if I have to say "no" or "not now" I always try to provide an explanation, which ranges from "we don't have time now because we have <some time/date/location> to get to" to "I think that's too dangerous <explanation of risks>". I've done that every since she could speak. She's 10 years old now and I still do it. That being said, I don't often tell her "no". If she wants to do something that involves risk of injury (or something similar, like making a huge mess), I walk her through what she wants to do and get her to see where she needs to be proactive. She doesn't always listen.

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.


As opposed to "no" or "not now" you can also say "wait a moment" or "I'll help you later". No need to explain. Just make sure there's a way forward. She just needs to hold on a bit. Giving "no" even with an explanation as to why not might not yet show a way forward.

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."


Yeah this is a good one.

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.


Why not colour the walls, why does your design aesthetic trump mine?


I'm happy you asked. So what is your idea with the wall?


I was thinking a sort of avant-garde crayon-scribble motif ;0P


> * 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).

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.


Yeah I use them entirely for removing them from whatever situation is bothering them.


>* Timeouts rarely work.

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.


We have had great success with positive parenting (I think there is a book of that same name). Instead of timeouts we focus on calming and identifying emotions. It is empowering for children to be able to self-identity overwhelming emotions and handle them appropriately, which is a skill more adults would learn as well (myself included!)

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.


Presumably they're now in school and have bitten, hit, scratched, pushed, or otherwise physically harmed others (most kids do particularly in the transition from parallel to cooperative play; greed is a very strong instinct). What's your spin on that? You just suggest that the child removes themselves if they feel like it?


I'm not hippy dippy over here, just applying empathy and learning to time-outs. Instead of punishments for bad actions they are a chance for him to communicate what's wrong and a chance to teach him how to handle his emotions. It is a long ass road for sure, and I certain don't leave him to handle physical situations himself. It is only occasionally he gets upset about something and notices he needs to calm himself down. Most of the time, he needs guidance.

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.


So you are using timeouts, you just name them differently.


I'd say the difference is that "timeouts" are putting the kid in a corner to cool down vs. taking them aside to actively calm them down. I think when most people say timeouts they are talking about separating the child and letting them stew for a while.


> like hitting newborn baby brother

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.


We did the timeout when our 2 yr old first hit new baby and it reduce the behavior short term, but we also had our 2 year old start holding the newborn (with assistance) while giving a lot of praise. That replacement of the negative behavior with the positive really helped the 2yr old's attitude towards new baby.


I'm curious as a future parent: How old was she, and how do you think she would have responded with an explaination of what was going on: She's jealous because she sees the baby getting more attention than she is, and explaining when she was a baby, she got just as much attention and that you love them both equally.


She was about 2 and a half when they were born. To be more specific, we actually had twins. And she only did it to one of them. Explaining things are what we tried first - its always our first goto - explain, redirect, etc.

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.


>We tried pretty much everything //

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.


Grandparents tried it. She still did it not long after. After that we decided it wasn't worth trying.

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 timeouts work because it separates the kid from the stimulus and gives them an opportunity to cool off and let their conscious mind reassert itself over their emotions. Not necessarily because they think of it as a negative consequence to be avoided.

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!


Some kids are distraught when separated from the family, others are quite content. IME timeout can be far more emotionally damaging than smacking. A well timed smack is a punishment for action; a "timeout" appears to be a desire for separation originating with the little-person's most loved-ones. A short-cut to the brain telling it that a behaviour is unwanted (smack) vs. an emotionally loaded action telling them [seemingly] their loved ones don't want them around.

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.


Timeouts don’t have to involve separation from loved ones, just from the stimulus that’s causing the behavior.

You can be with your child during a timeout. It’s not jail.


This is what we do.

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


I don’t have kids but when I get really angry and step away from the situation I often get into a loop and my emotions spin out of control.

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.


If you are angry for hours maybe try going to exercise or meditate(fixing this issue is actually one of the goals of meditation) or something, but that is above my pay grade.

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.


With my kids they are always allowed to "get some space" if they want to, but we never force isolation on them (we may suggest it, and often that suggestion is accepted, but it's clear that we're available to talk if they want to).


I've found that giving my kids the vocabulary for describing what they feel has a huge impact on their behavior. Once they can name the problem, they are much more likely talk about it than lash out.


True for adults too. Once I learned to name[1] some of my cognitive distortions, I became much more relaxed.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_distortion


Timeouts worked great for us; the trick we found was just to be deterministic about them. We gave our kids a countdown warning and then invariably applied the same consequences when the countdown expired. After a couple applications of a 3-2-1 countdown followed by a timeout, our kids reliably responded by "2".

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.


>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.


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Making me nervous...


That almost calmed me down, except that you closed those tags in the wrong order. >smile<


edit: Fixed! I was still able to edit it.


A lot of what you've described is covered in detail in the book: "Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting"

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.


timeouts work better if you call it naughty step instead. i've seen a few supernanny episodes where parents used timeouts before and it didn't work, and then she introduced naughty step and it works a charm


My experience doesn't match up with that reality TV anecdote... Assuming there is an actual change, and it's not just scripting and editing, my guess is there are a large number of factors involved, and not simply changing the name.


It isn't that kind of show.

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.


what i liked most about it is how it shifted parents perception from being helpless victims to empowering them by shifting the blame for the child's behaviour completely onto the parent. and yes, the american version is edited "for dramatic effect". the uk version is more educational


I was a skeptic about the supernanny too and I don’t watch the show but her book has a technique to help reluctant sleepers adjust to staying in their own beds that really worked for my kid. He’s a teen now and still has a hard time falling asleep, it’s just how he’s wired.


I'm not skeptical of supernanny, I'm skeptical that simply changing the name from "timeout" to "naughty step" was the primary cause of any observed effect (rather that the whole slew of other, more meaningful, changes that were introduced at the same time)


perception matters more than anything when it comes to dealing with kids(and most adults).


I've applied naughty step with my kids and it has worked really well. the idea is not to make it some cool sportsy thing called "timeout" but to put stigma on it and to apply it consistently


I just call it "the step". It's not always clear when a child is sent to "the step" whether they're guilty yet.


What is a "naughty step"?



>* 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).

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.


> Sometimes kids do not understand their own feelings and telling them helps them cope better.

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.


Thanks for the youtube link, looks interesting!


You also have to recognize that kids are different. My son, for instance, will not clean up unless threatened with punishment (taking games away, stuff like that, not paddlin'). The textbook stuff doesn't work at all. Won't do homework, won't shower, won't brush his teeth, not to mention cleaning up his room (unless I threaten to throw his shit out; mom is too chicken to enforce anything).


We had a once-a-week cleanup rule when the kids were little. We all cleaned up the house for the weekend, kids just had to pickup their rooms. When they didn't (as is perfectly normal, pushing boundaries), I would tidy up by throwing everything into a big garbage bad and putting it up high in the garage (sort of a timeout for their belongings). Set a timer at the start of the process so they have a chance to do it themselves. After a few times, they got the message, but there were some times at first when they would lose their shit - that was pretty harrowing.


Yep, I've done a variation of that as well, to ensure compliance. One time a full garbage bag full of toys got thrown out.

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.


Timeouts have randomized trials demonstrating efficacy.

Your other points are decent though.


> Your job as a parent is to provide your kid with all necessities of life and with love.

* Your job as a parent is to teach your children to ensure they are functioning adults at 18.


That latter is much harder to achieve if you don't do the former.


Why not both?


One thing I think my parents did right was never telling me in the heat of the moment how I would be punished. I knew how I was supposed to behave, and they let me know when I was not living up to the standard, but if they decided to punish me, I wouldn't find out right away what my punishment would be. The only exception was trivial punishments like being sent to my room or having something taken away for a few hours, or if the behavior problem was ongoing and they had time away from me to talk between themselves and decide what would be appropriate to threaten me with.

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.


The cold, hard truth I came to realise about punishment is that it's inevitable. Even parents who 'don't punish' actually do punish: they withdraw emotionally.

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.


I’m one of those parents that “don’t punish”. I do tell my child when he makes me angry or sad, and of course it is clear to him that I might not want to, say, play or read to him at that point. I still wouldn’t call that punishing him, but rather a consequence of his actions.


> I still wouldn’t call that punishing him, but rather a consequence of his actions.

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.


Some people interpret the leaving and the coming back as distinct events. When you leave, they think you're giving up, either on resolving the situation or repairing the relationship at all. Until you come back, there's an anxiety-inducing chance that you won't.


Wouldn't you class withdrawal of affection as punishment?

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.


The motivation makes a difference. If my wife think I'm intentionally punishing her she'll react differently than if she thinks that I don't want to be affectionate because I feel hurt or angry.


That's what it looks like from her point of view. One man's cooldown is another woman's shutting-out.


If I am sad because you did something, I would not say I am punishing you. Punishment, according to the dictionary, is inflicting a penalty as retribution.


I really try to stick to this approach.

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.


One of my best tools with my toddler is "don't react, respond". My first thought is rarely my best thought, and my reactionary tone of voice is not my most loving and supportive. A kid doesn't need your immediate answer to everything. You can tell them, "let me think about that" and literally take the time to consider your options. Almost nothing is an emergency situation requiring your elevated tone of voice or physically rushing towards them.

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/).


> "let me think about that"

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.


I was thinking about it in terms of stalling for the 15 seconds it takes to make a response, instead of a reaction. But yeah, I totally agree that for those longer considerations, demonstrating the integrity to follow through is really important. My oldest is just 2, so this doesn't come up much yet. She has very little concept of tomorrow.

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.


> 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 in the same boat as you. My son just turned two a couple of weeks ago and I'm trying to teach him about the days of the week.

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.


Ooo, cool idea!


This is really insightful and totally rings true in my experience with myself, my siblings, and the students I've taught. Thanks


> 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.

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.


But some things they seem to remember forever. I'm always amazed at the connections my child makes and the details he remembers.


My experience is that they remember, but that show more grace.


I would add, say “yes” as much as possible. Work out things that are an automatic yes at any time. This gives them control.

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.


Any specific episodes you would like to recommend? Thanks!


Not that immediately come to mind. I kind of nonlinearly cherry-pick, splitting between ones I think I can relate to and ones I don't immediately think I relate to. The latter are interesting to me because I find my increased emotional distance to the problem she's talking through helps me better understand her logic, if you know what I mean. Plus, I never know when something not applicable might become applicable :)

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.


Is there something fundamentally wrong with rushing towards them & elevating your voice? It's not an emergency per se, but when our toddler stands up & teeters unwittingly towards the edge of our bed, or ventures to stairs unallowed, or almost snares a knife or hot mug on the counter, etc, it seems appropriate. Those circumstances are of course best avoided ahead of time but no one is perfect.


When my little boy was a toddler (maybe 1.5?) he was curious about a pot of water I was boiling. I was holding him and he leaned over to put his finger in it. My first reaction was to pull him away and shout, "No". Instead I decided to calmly explain to him that it was hot and he shouldn't touch it. He still wanted to put his finger in it.

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.


One of the phrases I picked up watching younger family members be raised that I've tried to apply, when appropriate, as a parent: "They'll only do it once." Learning the why behind the "no" is an important of life. Obviously not every life lesson where "no" applies can be taught in this manner, but when it can be controlled...as the hot water was...it's an effective tool.


>Almost nothing is an emergency situation requiring your elevated tone of voice or physically rushing towards them.

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.


This is great advice for life in general.


I've read a lot of parenting advice and it all sounds good in theory, but in practice everything goes out the window. I'm in the throws of it now with a 9-month old and a 3-year old. It is hard to think about advice you read in an article when you have not slept and the kids are screaming and having a trantrum. Or you try to do what the article said and then it doesn't work at all and only makes things worse.

I think you just have to wing it and do your best. Just be intuitive and as empathetic as possible with your kids.


The thing I (eventually) realized was that all that advice and techniques almost never help with the current situation you are in. However, it almost always helps with future situations. Rarely do kids (or people, or pets even!) stop their reaction when you use some technique. However, the next time they have that reaction, they will remember what happened before and react differently.

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!"


> 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.

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.


I dont know why this was downvoted. The other way really works too. Adults adapt to what child does both consciously and subconsciously. The difference is that the child at that age does not do it for purpose, they dont plan yet.


I didn't downvote it, but it came across as faux-deep psychological "fact" that parent's are being played by their children because they are weak or something. However, I don't think the OP intended that, or at least I hope not.


Thanks for the insight. I didn't intend to imply it meant the parents are weak --- really just something to watch out. Just pointing out that children are _really_ good at conditioning parents, which is sometimes not noticed.


Cool, glad to know you meant that, because I totally agree with it! We've typically had our son eat something different from us - some friends say we should have him eat what we eat, but I point out to them that they tend to end up eating a lot of mac and cheese and hots dogs ;) We like spicy (hot) food that has complex flavor profiles - we have our son try everything, but kids palates are different than adults, and we'd rather not him condition us into eating kid food!


Having two very young children is especially difficult. With just one kid, it's orders of magnitude easier to keep your cool and respond mindfully. With two, sometimes I realize that the best thing I could do is separate them, but that's rarely possible in practice. How am I supposed to separate two kids who may be getting into some serious mischief, or beating the crap out of each other, while I'm watching them and cooking dinner by myself? Those are the kinds of situations I've reacted in ways that I immediately regretted.


Great points. A lot of professional parenting advice givers are also just pseudo-science.. no different than fitness or nutrition people.

The recommendations are constantly changing... so clearly none if it is perfect.


With three kids (or even two!), any advice from someone with one comes off as at least as grating as advice from people with no kids did when I only had one.

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.


Yes - parenting three young kids is brutal. In my experience it does get easier for a while, once the youngest is past nappies, sleepless nights and is into kindergarten. Then you're in the sweet spot for a few years, until the teenage shit starts. Again, IMHO, boys are much harder work than girls under five. It reverses when puberty hits; teen girls make for highly demanding parenting. Dads get an easier ride from teen daughters than mothers, who really do get it in the neck...


When it comes to teenage brothers the line between "normal antics" and "unstoppable force of mayhem" (especially if one/both have jobs and therefore money) is very, very thin.


I've heard that as well, that 2 - 3 kids are more trouble than any other number.

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.


Nah. 2 kids or similar age are easier then one pretty much after year one. They spend a lot of time playing/interacting together while if you have one, you are sole source of social interaction.


Being the second in a family of six kids, I would never imagine my parents getting on a horse half as high as the one you're towering from.


I recommend it, view's great.


My brother-in-law, father of three girls, said going from 2 kids to 3 in a two parent family means you have to go from planning man-to-man defense to zone. At least one kid is never getting at least one parent's full attention at any given time, so now you need to triage and prioritize the greatest parenting need at any given time.


It looks like you're going through a tough period and lashing out on people who chose to have less than 3 kids.


Nah, not tough, totally normal. Newly-multi-childed parents deserve some Real Talk every now and then so they can get over trying to do (and feeling bad about failing miserably at) all the crap they now don't have time/energy/attention for from Internet parenting advice, and get on to counting any day that ends with no more than one bleeding injury per kid and $50 property damage as a huge win, even if it took yelling a couple times and some punishment not accompanied by a bunch of hugging and a long talk about Right and Wrong here and there to achieve such great success. That stuff's fine but at some point you can't be two places at once, and there are more than two places you urgently need to be right this second, so something's gonna get neglected.

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.


You are over thinking this.

In any life situation, people who have experienced that situation have more relevant than those who don't.


Hearing parents complain about their own life choices as though they are martyrs upon him parenthood was thrust by the universe is categorically more grating than any form of advice coming from anybody.


Doesn't sound like the poster is complaining or being a martyr. Just giving a humorous reality check.

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.


I used to spend time and energy collecting thoughts on how I could be a great parent.

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?


You always want what you didn't have, and no one is perfect, but I do think that you make people (not just kids!) around you better and stronger when you model goodness and strength.

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.


There is a funny Simpsons scene where Marge and Homer don't fight in front of Lisa and Bart. Instead they go into the car and argue/fight, because they thought that fighting in front of the kids would be bad.

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.


> 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.

> 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.


If that's the worst your aunt experienced, sounds like she had a pretty good upbringing to me.


The whole identical twins separated at birth thing makes me believe environment is the only thing a parent can provide.

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've thought about this a lot. The evidence seems pretty strong that as long as you are a reasonably decent parent (IE, maybe anything short of child abuse) your kid will probably turn out as their genetics and the large-scale culture predetermine in a lot of important ways: IQ, income, educational achievement. However, good parenting can make the journey more pleasant for everyone involved, even if the destination is roughly the same. If I let my son watch a ton of TV instead of actively playing with him it might not affect his adult IQ much, but I do think it would make both of us worse off and less satisfied in ways that would be hard to quantify. Of course, that may just be how I justify doing what my culture tells me is good parenting even though there's not much data in support of it.


You might be interested in reading Maria Montessori (of Montessori school fame). Her stance is very much towards molding the environment rather than the child. She basically says that you can't mold the child, but you can become an obstacle to their development.


> Children do not listen to their parents for very long.

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 don't know that I "listened" to my parents very well, but I did watch them a lot. Their actions influenced mine quite a bit.


One of the easiest ways to be predictable is to tell children what is happening and what is about to happen soon—especially if it will cut short a game or a play session.

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.


Agreed, My (almost) 3yr old responds really well to this technique. I'll give give her a 10 or 5 min heads up and reminders at each halving of the countdown. When we get to zero she's ready for action. I almost never have issues when I do this. But, if I forget, I'll often get pushback.


There's a pretty large body of twin study evidence that says as long as you don't abuse your kids, your parenting styles don't matter to their long term personality (or outcomes, when you adjust for parental income)

One such study here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0741882070186459...


Even if parenting doesn't matter for long term outcomes very much, it certainly affects how parents and kids feel in the 20ish years that typically stay in the same household.


Also true!


One thing parents do has a huge effect on outcomes and that is controlling their child's environment. For example, children that attend school with more children with an incarcerated parent are more likely to get in trouble with the law[1].

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.

[1] https://www.nber.org/papers/w25730?sy=730


We’ve found timeouts are very effective with our kids. Although one parent is more consistent about applying them than the other. 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.

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.


Timeouts did not work for our oldest. He would constantly try to sneak or wrestle out of timeout and it turned into a game for him. We tried to stick with it but looking back I think it was a huge mistake and the contributed to behavioral problems he has today, basically full blown ODD.

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.


This is where we're at too, the timeouts just don't work -- same behavior -- running out of his room etc. What I've found is to give him a little of something he wants (5 minutes of legos) before I need something (getting dressed for school). That way I'm not trying to force something "right away" and thus avoiding a confrontation in the first place. Once the power struggle begins, there's not really a smooth way out of it.


They will start getting experience with arbitrary, petty, random and chaotic behavior as soon as you start sending them to public school.


That is exactly right. I remember the kid who showed up to public high school after being homeschooled for K-8 seeming completely bewildered by typical patterns of teenage behavior. Thank god his parents did not decide to go all the way to grade 12.


I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at. A thinly veiled insult perhaps?


That's not how I read it... Going to school means interacting with dozens/hundreds of other people (many of them peers who are still developing social interaction skills). Encountering those behaviors is inevitable in that setting.


That's about what I was getting at. You also get authority figures that are inconsistent and tyrannical, the wonders of bureaucracy, and extreme limitations of personal liberty. You get to learn how to deal with stupid and illogical people, bullies, and all the other elements of the vast canvas of personality types.

It's great training, and not to be discounted. But having a haven of stability in the home is an essential counterbalance.


I came here to write basically this. I know some parents who use the attitude of "the world is a rough place, so kids need to learn how to deal with it" as a justification for dealing more harshly with their kids than I would (kind of like valuing a "school of hard knocks" approach).

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.


But why do you stress the "public" bit?


It's what I know about. Also, public schools have to take everybody, so you are more likely to have to encounter people across the spectrum of abilities.

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.


No one at school knows them or cares about them, like in the real world where most people are utterly indifferent. Just as your boss or your therapist does not really care about you neither does your teacher. Some friends do, eventually, but you aren’t friends with someone instantly. They don’t know or care about you at the beginning either.


It could be interpreted that way, but it also holds a certain amount of truth.


> 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.

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.


I have a three year old and I don’t think of what I do as punishment at all. I don’t think they have the kind of agency and self consciousness to understand that what they’re doing is wrong, so it doesn’t make sense to think of things that way for me.

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.


Most three years olds certainly will understand what they are doing is wrong if you tell them and why. But you are right in that they don’t know how to control their feelings and sometimes themselves. But that is true of many adults too.


I am not sure that's the case. Children are very good at putting things into categories. If you give them a list of things that are right and things that are wrong, they will certainly remember it in the same way that they memorize the names of the trains on Thomas, but I'm not sure that the category "right" and "wrong" has any particular meaning to them. It takes quite a while for them to develop what is a rather sophisticated concept that many adults struggle with.

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 don't punish. Children can certainly learn what makes other people sad or angry, and have a sense of fairness. I don't think there are any metaphysical aspects of right and wrong that kids have to learn.


> Although one parent is more consistent about applying them than the other.

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.


My spouse & I try to be explicit with each other about who is good cop and who is bad cop, and switch off. Good cop/bad cop can really be destructive as you say when it's done carelessly or if it pits the parents against each other. We try to use it gently to maintain a united front. For instance, with bedtime on a rough night, we pick which parent will cajole & start things off and which parent will take over if things go south. One's the closer, and if bedtime goes well that parent can actually just sit it out. For us that helps us have more patience, as if tempers get high, parent 1 simply switches out with parent 2, and sometimes that resets the kid's attitude too.

We haven't figured out timeouts at all.


> 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.

Do things differently in the weekend.


>Do things differently in the weekend.

<music>Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine...</music>


If your child is too angry or upset for timeout do you just wait until they calm down and apply punishment? What about tantrums in public or somewhere where timeout can’t exactly work?

Expecting parent. Can’t wait for September when my daughter is due!


It depends on age, they have to be able to understand what’s happening. So for toddlers we’d redirect to something else, then timeouts, then around 5 is when we started delaying them. Seems to work really well. But you’re right, in public is different. Usually taking them out of the situation worked for us. Like tantrum at a restaurant, take them outside till they cool off.


>> What about tantrums in public

> 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.


When we flew cross country with our baby, a mom and two older kids across the aisle insisted that we give her our baby to hold and at that point we were so frazzled from the screaming and fussing that we acquiesced and they had the baby laughing and cooing the rest of the flight. If I’m being honest I was a little bit hurt.


Babies generally respond well to new and varied stimuli. That sounds like a great recipe for a happy baby. Parents still close enough to feel safe, but new people and behaviors to experience. I've also found babies generally love kids...


I am lucky enough to enable my wife to stay home with our daughter as she grows up and the results have been spectacular (you aren't a bad parent for not doing this, I just was in a position to do so). As an infant she was never ignored or left to get over heated (with the exception of a few times she stayed at grandma's house and her behavior for the next few days changed dramatically) as a result she does not feel the need to scream loudly or throw tantrums as she grows older. Anecdotes are anecdotes of course but we will be doing the same thing for kid two.


Kids are different. My kids also generally doesn't have tantrums, and I don't stay home. She's just a mellow kid (and also was never ignored or left to get over-heated -- what are you implying here?). Compare to a friend of mine whose oldest can turn into a nuclear meltdown in 5 seconds; she stays home.

Hope your kid 2 doesn't destroy all your certainties about children :)


>and also was never ignored or left to get over-heated -- what are you implying here?

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.


Our kid did not go to daycare until 16 months, so I don't know much about that, but also did not have a single stay-at-home parent. Both parents dropped days/week worked to 3 or 4 and we staggered our schedules, and then had a caretaker about 18 hrs/week. I think this should be brought up for people in jobs like software where flexibility is sometimes possible.


I was a hands on stay at home parent. Kid still had a few tantrums. Every kid is different, you’ll probably observe that when your next arrives.


> If your child is too angry or upset for timeout

"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).


We have some family friends that are decent people, but lousy parents.

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.


Perhaps they're decent parents, and you're a lousy judge of parenting?


Sure, that's possible.

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.


sounds like wrong because different


Well, I should probably not have said "objectively", but we were comparing against the article titled "how to parent more predictably"... so I felt that was a fair assessment.


This is the whole thesis of the (very good) book by Bryan Caplan, "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids."


> Who you are and how you treat people is more important than technical skills to get your kids to behave.

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 think you are correct, I would add that by nature it seems kids model their behavior after their parents somewhat automatically.

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 3 kids in their late teens or early twenties and we have known a lot of other parents with kids in the same age group. I have seen the exact opposite when it comes to outcome, I have seen otherwise good, intelligent people produce drug addicts and sociopaths due to their lack of parenting.

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.


The term "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" agrees with assessment that kids mimic their parents.

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?


Why are they lousy parents?


It's a combination of a lot of things. Heavy drinking, gambling, lying to each other (parents), kids don't have bed times or waking times, miss school when they are too tired. Force the older kids to watch the younger kids so they can smoke, drink and talk with friends instead of watch their own kids. Kids would scream and fall on the ground when aren't noticed... the parents will be in the same room talking with friends while their kids scream at them... etc...

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?


IMHO time spent is the most important part of good parenting, by a lot. Necessary but not sufficient and all. Obviously there's much more, but that's a baseline a lot of kids don't get, and it shows more than anything else (outside of horrors like abuse, obviously). I don't think having older kids watch younger ones to give the parents some free time is a negative; you give up _so_ much of your time as a parent its hard to even describe.


It's valid point to have the older kids help, it just bothered me how it was done. The mom would basically expect a 10 year old girl to change diapers while the other kids played, and the mom drank. (the reliance on the older kids was just over the top)

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.


The author rightfully states that being rich(er) helps in being more predictable. Likewise, to be good at parenting it also helps a lot to have “nice kids”. That’s why I take a lot of advice with a big grain of salt.

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.


What are you doing after he's cleaned up? I'm guessing you're doing something to reinforce his behavior, and that that is way more important than the initial suggestion.


If you want to be better at parenting, get a dog first, and learn how to deal with dogs. Properly, using modern behavioral techniques. You will find that many rules apply both to dogs and kids (which shouldn't be surprising, really).

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.


It also works to practice with coworkers, friends, and really anything with a modicum of intelligence and a limbic system.


And then you have the kid and the dog at the same time...


A pattern that I see a lot in parks etc is parents wanting to leave and telling the little kids "5 more minutes!" then after 5 minutes "just one more minute!" or whatever. Pro-tip: kids are not aware of what 5 minutes looks like, make it a specific number of activities: "going down the slide 10 times more", you can count together and it looks initially like a large number. Not a magic wand but works way better than the time warnings.


Also in general the trick "I will count to three, and when I say 'three' you will have put that down and stand here. One..." is a far more successful method than it has any right to. I count to 10 for getting them dressed.

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.


I just started doing this last week, it has saved us from so many breakdowns.


This works the other way too though. I've seen some parents use the 5 minutes warning and then pack the kids up after only 2 or 3 minutes. The kids don't know the difference and it allows the "warning" to be consistent even when the timing can't be for whatever reason.

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.


Better to use accurate language like "5 more moments" or "time to wrap up" or "one last ride", to avoid messing up your child's budding sense of chronology and numeracy.


We generally use the 5/1 minute warnings, then when it's time to go use the (Daniel Tiger) "pick one more thing to do" approach.


This actually works. The kid does not how much actually is 5 mins, but the kid knows that we are leaving soon and adjust expectations. When I am announcing leave time, there is significantly less opposition and tamptrums. When I say "we go now" suddenly then there is trouble.

Counting slides is something I don't intend to do, because I am not actually interested in micromanaging those 5 minutes.


Lol, I would drag out going down the slide 10 more times to like, 40 minutes.


"We have to go soon, we have enough time for you to go down the slide about 10 more times."

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).


Slide 9 times, then head over to the jungle gym. Never leave the park!


I think it's better to be unpredictable.

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.


Raising twins pushed me way over to the nature side of nature vs nurture. What works well for one child may be entirely counterproductive for another.

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.


No child is the same. Timeouts ended up traumatizing our child. Anyway I came across this and started to experiment some of the principles from here https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/03/13/6855333...


My advice to new parents is to ignore most people's advice & trust their instincts. The best response to the deluge of "you're parenting wrong" articles is to tell the authors of such articles, politely but firmly, to go pound sand.

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.


Your first paragraph contradicts your second paragraph.


Sorry for the short reply, but I couldn’t resist the obligatory parenting xkcd: https://xkcd.com/674/


I bookmarked this article ages ago because the advice seems so sensible. This post just reminded me of it.

https://blog.codinghorror.com/how-to-talk-to-human-beings/


This book changed how I parent: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/6162649-healing-stori...

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.


My kid is a bit of a behavior problem.

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.


for a while I was on the board of a day care. We were not -for-profit, but charged only a little less than for-profit day care. Some things about cost: Running the building cost more than I thought, and we got free rent. Heat, insurance, repairs, etc, were all more than I expected. Plumbing & HVAC repairs alone were more than I would have thought for the whole building. We had only two teachers with benefits, but it cost about $10k per month just for their benefits and statutory taxes. That is, we spent $10k every month on labor before the teachers received dollar one.


Advice from Alan Kazdin from Yale has influenced my parenting of my 4 young boys more than any other single source. His recommendations against punishment are based on the fact that research shows they are not effective for long-term behavior change in children. It is challenging to use the methods in heated moments, but even without perfect application, they have been helpful.

Here is an article that introduces the ideas:

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/03/no-spanki...

Here is his book, that has full details and many examples:

https://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Parenting-Toolkit-Step-Step-...


Thank you for recommending this. I'm going to try this method with my "less easy" kid.


My single greatest piece of advice:

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".


In our household the word "badingo" means "I recognize that you are doing a joke premised on being annoying or repetitive,* I acknowledge your joke, it is funny, now please stop."

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


Ours has become very multi-use, but it's pretty righteously observed.

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.


This seems useful. Is there a point at which you think it would be useful to phase out the use of a specialized safe-word & transition to a more widely understood form of signalling discomfort, or using other strategies such leaving the situation or reading book or putting on headphones etc.?

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.


Hmm, if we did that, here's what would happen.

Kid 1 does something too repetitive.

Kid 2: "badingo!"

Kid 1 stops, but does something else too repetitive.

Kid 2: "badingo!"

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.


Our safe word has become sacred, because there's a lot of benefit to having it, so yielding to it works.

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.


I feel like if you don't do this stuff intuitively, you can't really learn it.

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.


I'm glad the author here called out that being predictable via following through on "rules" isn't enough - rules need to comprehensible and reasonable in their own right to be understood. He's also got a good grasp on the importance of properly phrasing things for children to understand. His point here seemed spot on:

> 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 [1] 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.

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/06/mr-rogers...


We've had a lot of success with praising desired behaviors rather than discipline of unwanted behaviors. Also, using 'think throughs' has been an effective teaching tool (ask the child to think through and say out loud what needs to be done etc)

Per: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14391149-calmer-easier-h...


One my most painful realizations as an adult was realizing that my parents were emotionally negligent and that I have long suffered from CPTSD as a result. They treated parenting as if it was just providing food and shelter and failed to realize that good parenting is actually about teaching your kids to be emotionally mature. I struggle with feelings of emptiness, depersonalization, and numbness in ways that make it hard to feel normal most days.


Grunching in a way that I hope doesn't come off as santimomious. I grew up with foster kids and have acute awareness of how creatively foster parents can get around "no hitting" rules with medieval stuff like time outs barefoot in the dark in a winter garage. Ultimately feel that "no hitting" is striking at the branches, but not the root.

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.


I really like these tips. My wife and I have followed a very similar approach, and I like to think we have two well-behaved, considerate, and appropriately responsible 5-year-olds.

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.


Another thing I havent seen mentioned is rather than punish (by taking away things) for bad behavior, you should be rewarding for good behavior. Meaning every privilege has to be earned.

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.


Sometimes I pity myself for I’m currently not able to spend an adequate amount of time with our only child. Until a couple years ago we used to go play in a playground on a daily basis and this helped us properly bond with our child. Even my child’s academic performance was better back then. Now that we are less outdoorsy thanks to being too busy to have fun, we have become weary of our monotony. It is my experiential learning: the less time we spend together, the more we lose in terms of our family bonding.


You may also try Non-violent Communication, that's the way I would do with my kids.


I hope my post ends up being helpful! Here are a few others I've written about parenting that might be interesting:

* https://www.jefftk.com/p/equal-parenting-advice-for-dads

* https://www.jefftk.com/p/parenting-optional-vs-required

* https://www.jefftk.com/p/street-training


The book 1-2-3 Magic tames even the wildest kids if you are consistent. It feels humane to give kids a few chances to change their trajectory. Highly recommend.


A good reading on mindful parenting is [0]:

>>> 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.

0: https://www.amazon.com/Children-Tomorrow-Monks-Mindful-Paren...


This article ignores large body of knowledge about parenting, unapplicable in most cultures and families in the world. I tried it personally. Techniques described serve no good purpose, just irritate everyone and ultimately destroys family from inside


Apparently parenting is all about consistency in punishment.

What about reward?


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You're 1 for 3 on that list, so no.


Which one?

BTW: Y'all really need to friend-up your grandmas on Facebook.


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Ah, I see they have a name for people that don't like kids now.


You don’t have to be an antinatalist to simply not have kids




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