I run more than one parenting forum on line, most of them are filled with new parents, some are more experienced like myself, but as a general rule it's first time parents. The most common questions I read over and over is "why won't my child behave?" or "how do I get my child to listen to me?"
Now, don't get me wrong, sometimes Gabe and Bits do not listen to me; contrary to how I *wish* they behaved, they sometimes have bad days where it doesn't matter what I do, they ignore me and do as they wish (though not for long...ha ha)
The number one thing to do to get your child to behave and listen to you? Be consistent in your words and actions. If you tell them no, MEAN it. If you tell them not to do something or there will be consequences, you had damn well better make sure you follow you with consequences if they do it again.
Someone asked today "How do I get my 18 month old to stop playing in the kitchen sink?" This seemed like a no brainer to me-remove the temptation of the sink (the child had a stool for the sink) and if he goes back to the sink, pick him up and tell him it's NOT for playing with. Do that as many times as it takes for them to understand that a) the sink is not for playing and b) I'm mom and I'm the boss.
Did anyone say that?
No, of course not. The answers ranged from "let him play, there's no harm" to "just redirect him, nothing you do or say is going to stop him from playing in the sink"
*shakes head* Really? Really? There is NOTHING you can do to stop them from playing in the sink? I am baffled.
I have a theory about why children run parents lives now. I think it's just too hard for some people to actually BE parents. It's far too much effort to pick a child up and take them from the sink fifty times in ten minutes than it is to just let them play in the sink. It's too much effort to run to the bathroom every thirty minutes to set their toddler on the toilet; it's too much work to let their child come into the kitchen and help them prepare food with you so they can learn how to do it. It's too much work to make a small child clean up a mess they made.
Now, I know some of you are thinking "well I work a full time job/I'm a single mom/I have more than one child, etc etc" I haven't always been a stay at home momma. I worked a full time job (with Gabriel there with me) for the first three years of his life. I worked full time, had a disabled toddler, and a high risk pregnancy on top of it. I have a husband who works retail and is sometimes gone for upwards of 14 hours a day (and even more during the holidays) At one point, I worked third shifts so that we didn't have to have child care during the day. I worked eight and a half hours overnight, Geo worked his 8 or more hours during the day and I was home, up with a toddler and a baby. Believe me when I say, I understand that it's tiring to be a parent. While I cannot imagine how hard it is being a single parent, I do know how hard it is to work all day long and come home and take care of the kids by myself for days at a time.
It's exhausting to clean up and chase and entertain children all day long...it's tiring to hear mom called five hundred and sixty thousand times a day...removing a child from a sink fifty times in ten minutes is maddening to say the least HOWEVER I'm the PARENT and I have to do these things to raise my children properly. Trust me, you are not doing your child (or yourself for that matter) any favors by not being consistent with how you handle situations. You can stick to your guns 49 out of 50 times on one issue and the 50th time when you slip up and don't handle it your normal way, your child is going to remember that and is going to push and push and push. And you'll have to start over and handle it correctly the next 50 out of 50 times.
A little extra effort in the beginning goes a long way toward the end result. I don't claim to have the worlds' most amazing children, in fact, Gabriel the little darling that he is, once spit on the floor in front of our pastor-not once but twice. (thank God our pastor raised three boys and laughed about it, Geo and I were embarrassed beyond belief) SarahAnne-well we all know she's got a sailor's mouth, once walked up to a friend of mine and said "it's not nice to sh*t on the floor" (Thank God said friend has four children of her own...) Despite the fact that every once in a while they slip up as a general rule they are really well behaved children. Nothing makes me prouder than someone complimenting my children on their manners or their behavior when we are out. They are polite, kind, and know that when momma (or daddy) says no, they mean it.
You are not going to screw your kid up by saying no and meaning it, trust me. Children need boundaries in order to grow up feeling secure and loved. As a teenager I thought my parents were AWFUL because I had a midnight curfew (MIDNIGHT!?!?!? The horrors...that is so uncool) Now as a parent, I completely and utterly understand why they did that (and my children will have an 11 p.m. curfew ha ha) I realize now that they did these sorts of things because they cared about me and wanted what was best for me. The same goes for that toddler you are saying no to and following through with-you should be doing those things because you love them, because you want them to be happy, healthy and safe. In a few years they'll thank you for it...