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Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting author Nöel Janis Norton: live webchat on Monday 11 June, noon to 1pm

(72 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Jun-12 11:19:59

Do you feel that you need to shout, nag or lecture in order to get your children to do what you ask? Do you wish your children would bicker less and get on better? Are your mornings stressed as you rush to get your kids to school on time?

Nöel Janis Norton is an internationally renowned authority on children's behaviour and learning. She runs a parenting centre in north London and, in a career spanning more than 40 years, has helped tens of thousands of families.

Her parenting techniques are designed to quickly improve children's cooperation and self-reliance. Within weeks of putting her parenting strategies into practice, Nöel says you will feel calmer and more confident because life at home will be much less stressful. Typical family flashpoints, such as mealtimes, homework, computer use, chores and bedtimes, will all become calmer, easier and happier.

Nöel's new book, Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting, is aimed at helping parents with children aged 3-13 years old.

She is joining us on Mon 11 June from noon to 1pm. If you can't join Nöel on the day, please post your question for her here.

I haven't read your book, but have read "How to Talk..." and "When Kids Press Your Buttons" - what I can never manage is not losing it with the boys long enough to remember any of the advice when stressed. Also, DH loses it really easily too and we both wind each other up. Any tips on keeping calm?

JaneaneGruffalo Sun 10-Jun-12 23:46:13

Oh bollocks. It stops at 13? shock Really?? hmm
Well that's nine quid I'm never gonna get back fine and dandy grin

Hmmm...is that because
a) older kids are too clever to see through sing-song praise/ruses
b) puberty+hormones = all bets are off
c) you have a sequel due out next year? wink

I didn't notice the age: that'll learn me! mine's 10 going on 16 so I hold my breath [blue] that's me suffocating not being sad!

JaneaneGruffalo Sun 10-Jun-12 23:47:17

and still holding my breath...sad!

JaneaneGruffalo Sun 10-Jun-12 23:48:16

Must keep calm
Must keep calm
angry

JaneaneGruffalo Sun 10-Jun-12 23:48:58

and Breathe
brew

JaneaneGruffalo Sun 10-Jun-12 23:52:09

Joking aside do you have a book for stroppy diva temperamental tantrummy hormonal pms pubescent mood swingy selective listening recalcitrant taciturn
trucculent teenagers????!!!!!!

You can have that title on me smile

JaneaneGruffalo Sun 10-Jun-12 23:58:10

Tips for tending to temper tantrums for 10+ in their terrible teens

Chapter 1 wine
Chapter 2 wine
Chapter 3 wine

Pozzled Mon 11-Jun-12 07:26:14

I also won your book in the giveaway and really like your approach- thanks!

My question is about descriptive praising. (I've been trying hard to use it and I find it helps to put me in a much more positive frame of mind).

Do you think it is possible to use too much descriptive praising- will kids switch off if we do it all the time? And related to this, should I praise ALL the good types of behavior I see, or just the ones I'm focusing on? DD1 is almost 4 and my main focus is a polite tone of voice rather than whinging.

NoraHelmer Mon 11-Jun-12 08:57:36

Sadly I'm not going to around for the live webchat so will have to catch up later.

My problem is how to stop my two children (DS 3 and DD 6) from descending into full scale war after a couple of minutes together in the same room (quite often after school when they are tired). I leave them happily playing or watching their favourite tv programme so I can go and cook dinner etc and the next I hear is screaming and fighting and then tears.

My solution has been to separate them and send DD upstairs to play in her bedroom, but that doesn't always work as she sometimes sneaks back down for Round 2. How do you make the children understand that fighting is not acceptable? Talking to them doesn't work, explaining what they are doing wrong hasn't worked so far, and yelling at them only makes me feel better temporarily grin

heliumballoon Mon 11-Jun-12 09:18:25

Hello Noel and welcome to MN
Can I ask your views on Government policy around support for families, especially those who might benefit from parenting classes. Clearly your classes are out of the reach of many at £345 for four group and one compulsory individual session. (I hope I don't sound rude pointing this out, I understand you're catering to people in West Hampstead and Notting Hill who have this kind of disposable income). Many people had access to parenting support through Sure Start, now sadly cut back, and through HVs, who in my area at least are concentrating on child protection and not having time to support many families. But on the other hand you will always hear people bleating about the nanny state...
I think what I am asking in a round about way is, what do you think should be the role of the state in supporting people to be good enough parents and what do you think of the current system?

Lovefruitsandvegs Mon 11-Jun-12 10:50:01

Dear Nöel,
I am desperately looking for a book which would have information on how I could manage my children especially the older one who is 6. I do not know how I or my husband could talk to our son to increase his compliance. For example:
1. I often have to call my son more than three times for him to respond. His hearing is fine (e.g. he responds pretty fast to other things). I know that he ignores me and this irritates me as I have to do it many times a day. I have to remind him to eat, to continue eating his lunch/dinner. I want him to sit down and eat without me constantly telling him to do it. He is a skinny boy and I cannot take his food away if he had not finished within 10 or 15 minutes. While other children would eat almost anything he is very cautious about the food he eat. There is some phobia when it comes to trying new food as he will not even try it even if you give him presents. He eats what I cook but often it would take him "ages" to finish his plate mostly because he distracts himself.
2. This also happens if he is a little bit naughty with his younger brother and I need his attention to stop him doing certain things. I would have to call him many times before he responds.
3. Another thing is that he is not concentrating on his studies unless he will be reminded about the task. Not always but when it comes to writing he would try to write the story using as few words as possible when other children would write the whole page.

I do not know but may be his behaviors is normal for this age but I often get tired when he is not serious about food or studies.

With many thanks!
Mum

Mushi44 Mon 11-Jun-12 11:13:37

Noel,
My grandson doesn't alwys go to the loo, even though we can see he desperately needs to. He giggles around and says he doesn't need to - until it's too late. We use DP and RL, tick charts and think throughs, but haven't cracked this issue yet.
What would you advise?
Suzanne

Rindercella Mon 11-Jun-12 12:02:25

Noel, I am so so sorry to have addressed you by the wrong name! blush blush blush

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Jun-12 12:03:05

Noel is here at MNHQ and ready to answer your questions. Welcome to Mumsnet Noel.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:03:58

I am delighted to be here at Mumsnet. I see that a number of you have already started reading the book and started putting the first strategy: Descriptive Praise and are starting to see good results in terms of more cooperation and things at home becoming calmer. I will try and answer as many questions as I can within the hour.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:09:42

Kindling

Hello Noel

My DD has just turned 3. The tantrums have really ramped up since the arrival of DD2 and she sulks if she thinks she is being told off (even when she is not). I am not over-critical and try to use positive language to guide her eg. "We have to be gentle when cuddling DD2, don't we, as she's just a baby, that's right" etc.

Reactions vary from sulking, shouting "go AWAY mummy" over and over, throwing herself on the floor in a pique and if DH is around, going off to find him for a cuddle. She will often will then refuse to let me near her or do anything for her as she wants DH to do everything instead.

I am really looking forward to your thoughts on how to teach resilience but more specifically, my question is what techniques should DH and I use to support and stop DD 'playing' us off against each other?

Part of the reason that you're daughter is playing you and your husband off against each other is that she is managing to get away with it. What i recommend is that her father not do for her whatever it is she wants as long as your daughter is sulking or shouting or telling you to go away. This plan of course requires your husband and you to be united.
One of the best ways to help your daughter tantrum less is to Descriptively Praise whenever she is gentle with the new baby or even just leaving the baby alone. The more she hears what she's doing right, the better she will feel about herself, about the new baby and about you.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:11:17

ohforfoxsake

Lots of books deal with younger age children - I need one that will cure my 9 yo DS's selective hearing and my 10 yo DS's delayed reaction of a 30 minute minimum between being asked to do something and actually doing it. Will this book do this? (If it does it may well work on DH as well).

I have an entire shelf of parenting books from when they were younger, all gathering dust. Instead I opt for instinct. When that fails I adopt the "nagging til it's time for wine" approach.

Like many mums you of course want your children to be cooperative, to do what you ask them to do the first time they ask and without a fuss. You have a right to have that. Not only is it good for your mental health but children are happier when they are doing the right thing. So whether we call it selective hearing or delay in doing what they are told or a tantrum or violence the strategies to get children to cooperate are the same. What doesn't work is repeating and reminding because the more we are willing to repeat, the more ignorable we become. In fact repeating and reminding reinforces the very behaviour that we are upset about.

In my book I talk about 5 strategies to help children become, among other things, more cooperative. The first one that I mention is called Descriptive Praise which is a new way of praising. Instead of saying, well done, good girl, clever boy, that’s fantastic, what I’m asking you to do is to notice and mention what your children are doing that is right. Unfortunately because we’re so busy, it’s very easy to take good behaviour for granted and then react negatively to the misbehaviour. So start by noticing all of the times that your children do what you ask them to do. Sometimes you’ll be able to say, 'I ask you to set the table and you did it straight away without a fuss' but at other times there will be a fuss before the cooperation, so you can say 'you did what you were told even though I could tell that you really didn't want to'. The reason descriptive praise works is that all children, even teenagers want to please their parents. But if we are mostly noticing when they are doing things wrong then understandably they get hooked on that negative attention.

Now descriptive parenting isn’t the only strategy to improve cooperataion, but it's the first one because descriptive praise motivates children to want to be their best selves. They want us to be proud of them. In my book I recommend focusing on descriptive praise for 2 weeks before you move on to the next strategies.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:14:28

VenetiaLanyon

Hi Noel,

Can you talk me through your approach to punishments? I know that in an ideal world these won't ever be necessary, as I will have calmly, easily and happily guided my DD's way through the day grin, but in the real world I sometimes reach the stage when I've given DD enough chances to do something (nicely), and she still won't do it.

At this stage I will usually threaten a punishment which is related to the crime e.g. at bedtime say that she will lose a story if she's mucked about so much with her bath that it's now too late to read, but I always feel like a mean old bully doing this. What is your approach?

Thanks smile

In my book you'll see that I believe that rewards are far more effective motivators than punishments. I talk about the different kinds of rewards that parents can give on a daily basis that don't cost money or take much time or complicate your life more than it already is. An example of a reward could be that your daughter can earn an extra story at bedtime whenever she is in bed by the right time. That's far more motivating than her expecting a story which she then doesn't get because she's mucked about.
If the focus is on rewards then the best consequence is simply a reward that the child didn't earn that day. Children learn from this very quickly as long as we stay friendly. This is important because as soon as we get annoyed with our children, they get annoyed with us right back.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:18:27

Nosleeptillgodknowswhen

I got one of the free books grin. but i have to say after a particularly stressful week my first reaction was 'oh god, 400 pages!!'. Having said that it is easy to read and at least you get the excuse of pausing for 2 weeks of positive praise. I've found it works much better on non-hot spot issues (like getting ready) but i still struggle when they are in full blown squabbling mood and making my blood boil (dcs 2, 6 and 8).

My question is: when you are concentrating on descriptive praising, how much telling off should/ can you do? I still have to do something about all the times they are squabbling/fighting/winding each other up, but it feel it goes against the whole positive reinforcement. Should i just be ignoring the squabbling all together?

And please can you answer Ishoes' question as that is a big problem for me too and makes me feel like a rubbish parent sad.

thanks.

There’s not much point in telling off if it doesn’t work. So rather than doing something that doesn't work focus on descriptively praising any behaviour that you can possibly think of. Your question was specifically about when siblings are squabbling or winding each other up. Although it may not look like it, they are doing this largely for parents’ attention and the more attention you give it , the more squabbling you will hear.

It helps to realise that children often enjoy squabbling. However, we shouldn’t feel that we have to listen to it, so you can make a rule that children have to squabble in a different room that’s really far away from you. When children come to you complaining about the other, rather than trying to be the judge, jury, arbitrator and mediator, instead use the strategy called reflective listening without trying to fix it. Because the more attention you pay to the squabbles, the more squabbles there will be.

Another thing that helps children squabble less, is if they have designated special time with each parent. We’re often so busy it seems impossible to arrange that, but when you make the effort, you will see terrific benefits. Children will be more relaxed, they will pester each other less, and you’ll have more peace of mind. So you can see I’m not suggesting we’re ignoring the squabbling because ignoring means pretending it’s not happening and if you pretend its not happening they are likely to escalate to the point where you can no longer ignore it.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:21:32

Ishoes

My question to the author-

I find it very hard to control my temper with my dcs-especially when they are all bickering or fighting for my attention-I have 3 dcs btw!. I find myself all too often losing control and shouting/screaming at them. I have also been known to swearblushwhich I am ashamed of.

What can I do to stop myself losing it?

The main reason that we tend to lose our temper when siblings are bickering is that we think they shouldn't be. We think we should be stopping it. But any attempt to stop it is just giving it more attention. Of course there are times when a parent needs to intervene because one child may be hurting another, but that is quite rare. Most of the time bickering is harmless but of course irritating to listen to. As I mentioned in an earlier answer, send the bickering siblings to a different room with the instruction that you will come and get them. Tell them that they can continue to argue while they're in that room or they can play. We need to show children that squabbling isn't an effective way to get our attention.
Another way to help yourself stop losing your temper is to make a point of including more fun activities into every day. These need not be long or expensive. I am recommending this for two reasons: first of all, you are a precious child of the universe and you deserve to have sometime everyday just for you. The other reason is that unless you focus on recharging your batteries, it's unlikely that you will be the parent you'd like to be. We all know how easy it is to be irritated and impatient or even to shout when we're tired, frazzled, lonely or neglecting our own needs.

Solo Mon 11-Jun-12 12:25:56

Glad you answered Ishoes q? but that answer wont do my Dc's any good because they are 5 and almost 14, girl/boy respectively. None of that will work unfortunately.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:26:54

clippityclop

Am I too late?! My dds are older than those of the other posters,10 and 8, bright, popular at school, lots of interests and others say they are great to have around. We have a great life, good family. When we are alone however the the girls fight and squabble over the slightest thing. I try to 'praise the good', encourage them to deal with the problems themselves,treat the other as they would like to be treated etc, but really get sick of saying the same things over and over, and although I have the luxury of term time work am starting to dread being at home with them between activities in the holidays and the constant stream of complaints "she said to me, she did such and such". I sometimes feel I am more bothered by the situation than they are because they can equally be loving and have huge fun together. I find it hard to understand because I am an only child. I have lost my temper with them several times and confess to smacking and shouting at them out of sheer frustration which makes me ashamed, as this is what my mother did to me. My husband tends to leave dealing with it to me because I have more time with the girls, but he does when the squabbles happens in front of him How can I undo all this?

We have a tendency to believe siblings should always be nice to each other. Well even husbands and wives are not always nice to each other and we’ve chosen to live together smile. As siblings are stuck with each other and are immature, they are bound at times to wind each other up or take offence at some imagined slight. The less you react to the negative and the more you focus on descriptively praising any little glimmer of positivity, the better the siblings will get on.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:30:59

Lovefruitsandvegs

Dear Nöel,
I am desperately looking for a book which would have information on how I could manage my children especially the older one who is 6. I do not know how I or my husband could talk to our son to increase his compliance. For example:
1. I often have to call my son more than three times for him to respond. His hearing is fine (e.g. he responds pretty fast to other things). I know that he ignores me and this irritates me as I have to do it many times a day. I have to remind him to eat, to continue eating his lunch/dinner. I want him to sit down and eat without me constantly telling him to do it. He is a skinny boy and I cannot take his food away if he had not finished within 10 or 15 minutes. While other children would eat almost anything he is very cautious about the food he eat. There is some phobia when it comes to trying new food as he will not even try it even if you give him presents. He eats what I cook but often it would take him "ages" to finish his plate mostly because he distracts himself.
2. This also happens if he is a little bit naughty with his younger brother and I need his attention to stop him doing certain things. I would have to call him many times before he responds.
3. Another thing is that he is not concentrating on his studies unless he will be reminded about the task. Not always but when it comes to writing he would try to write the story using as few words as possible when other children would write the whole page.

I do not know but may be his behaviors is normal for this age but I often get tired when he is not serious about food or studies.

With many thanks!
Mum

There seems to be several issues that you're asking about here. One is how to guide your son into the habit of doing what you ask the first time. In my book I have a whole chapter called Never Ask Twice. This is a six-step strategy but most of the time you'll only need the first three steps. The first step as with many new habits is often the hardest. The first step is to stop what you're doing and go to your child and stand and look at him. This is the opposite of what we often do, which is call from another room or fling an instruction over our shoulder as we are leaving the room. When we don't seem to be taking the instruction seriously, it's not surprising that often our children will not take it seriously either.
The second step is to stand and wait until your child stops what he's doing and looks at you. Only then do you know that you really have his attention. Once he's looking at you and listening, the likelihood is that he's taking you seriously. You may be wondering how long you would have to wait in step two. Let's remember that children want to please their parents. Let's also remember that most children behave much better at school than they do at home. This proves that they know the right way to behave and that they can do it. They just don't think they have to do it at home. The six steps show your child that instead of shouting or nagging or giving up, you'll follow through. Rather than my trying to explain the remaining steps to you now, I recommend that you read my book!

HRHOliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Jun-12 12:36:18

Hello there
Am a bit late to all of this <fluster> but last week my DS1 (4y/o) told his friend off in addition to me (I was explaining he mustnt take his seatbelt off until we arrive at our destination) but DS1 used my voice and words.
HAve heard him doing the same (on safety issues, mostly) to my DS2. (19m)
Any tips on reprimands that wouldn't mortify when repeated by a 4 y/o?

Actually would love to be calmer and happier so all tips welcome....
Many thanks

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:38:30

Solo

What is the reason the books age aim ends at 13?
My Ds will be 14 in August and I sometimes feel that either he wont see it or I wont (his next birthday) as he is a very difficult child to get to do as he's told. He wont help out at home, he's rude, his tone of voice toward me is increasingly unpleasant (not even sure he knows he's doing it) and his 5yo sister is mimicking him, so I need to nip hers in the bud, but I feel his will be more difficult. He doesn't get pocket money, so I can't stop that and he doesn't have the latest gadgets ~ which is a bone of contention for him, so I can't really confiscate anything. He's very intelligent, at a grammar school (could that be a cause?).

I'm a lone parent and have no real support, so feel like the good guy/bad guy and everything else in between. I get very shouty and stressy and have to get out of this seemingly vicious circle or I might just end up doing something regretful.
Any tips or ideas please?

The reason that the book says ages 3-13 is that teenagers need a slightly different approach. The same strategies work with adolescents, but because they are so easily embarrassed and desperate to be seen to be cool parents need to modify how they talk to teens. But teens still need all the strategies I mention in the book: Descriptive Praise, Preparing for Success, Reflective Listening, Rules and Routines, Rewards and Consequences etc. Left to their own devices many teens opt for a very unhealthy lifestyle: Too little sleep, too much time in front of the screen, not doing their best on their homework and revision, too much junk food, not enough exercise, not enough time with their family etc. As parents, we need to be firm in order to guide our teens into good habits. Sometimes parents are afraid of their teens reactions when the parents try to get back in charge. Remember that you have more experience, maturity and wisdom than your teenager! You can help your teen to become more cooperative, more confident, more motivated, more self-reliant and more considerate.

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