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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.

ElizabethSwann Thu 07-Jun-12 11:34:41

Hello Noel,

My son is autistic with ADHD. I struggle at times over issues such as computer and bedtimes ( he has real difficulty settling so that 1am is not uncommon).

For the past few weeks I have been using a sticker chart for specifics like bedtimes ( and an extra sticker if he sleeps there all night) which is working well with him. He is 9 and responds well to stickers etc.

How does this fit in with your parenting advice as I've not read your book. Things have settled here but I'd love to tackle the computer issues (rages coming off when I ask him). Any suggestions? I had planned to add it to the sticker chart once sleeping in his own bed every night was well established. Thank you smile

maples Thu 07-Jun-12 11:36:00

Hi Noel, I haven't read your book yet and I am sure it is full of useful strategies. I look forward to learning more by reading the webchat.

My question is this, do you feel the plethora of parenting books is undermining our ability to trust our own instincts with our children?

I must admit to having wept when reading the Baby Whisperer when DS was small - it has not been retained smile

gazzalw Thu 07-Jun-12 11:49:10

Hi Janis

A source of tension in our household has always been homework - at least for DS anyway! In Year 6 homework has eased off probably because a lot of the children were doing selective school exams and SATS and the teacher felt (rightly) that they had enough pressure. Needless to say there have been a lot fewer arguments which has made after-school time a lot more harmonious.

However, DS will be starting at one of the super-selectives in September and I can imagine that the battles will start again. He has already been warned that a lot more will be expected of him when he does homework at grammar school but we are already dreading the battles - a leopard doesn't change his spots overnight methinks.

How would you recommend that we tackle this?

Rindercella Thu 07-Jun-12 12:52:21

Hi Janis

I try and remain calm when dealing with my two DDs (2.2 years and 4.10 years), but sometimes I find it very difficult with my older DD as she can just be soooo contrary. For example, sometimes at bath time she will scream that she doesn't want a bath, so I say, fine, don't have one. Then she will screech back at me that she does want one. Then she will scream that she wants me to put her in the bath. And then when I go to help her she will screech that she'll do it herself. Sometimes I can hold it together and deal with her calmly (which obviously I know is the absolute best strategy), but other times it just gets me and I shout at her. I hate, hate, hate shouting at her. Another example is that sometimes she will refuse to leave school, saying she hates coming home which makes me feel terrible and very, very sad.

DD1 can be absolutely amazing and nice and calm and helpful. But she will then get these moments described above where she seems to get to a point where nothing I do or say will help her. She has had an awful lot of change in her short life - new sister, moved house, my father died and then my husband died all within a year of each other. But I really don't know how much of her behaviour can be attributed to that (especially losing her father) and how much is within the boundaries of normal for a nearly 5 year old.

I guess I would just love to hear any coping mechanisms you may have around behaviour such as this.

UntamedShrew Thu 07-Jun-12 14:38:56

Hi Noel - I'm really enjoying your book, I'm currently half way through my 2 weeks of descriptive praise and.. It appears we are turning a corner!! even if sometimes I catch myself sounding like a right twat in the shops with the boys

I just wondered if you had any twins specific advice about sharing? My boys are just 3 and we either have 2 of everything or they get a 'turn' after a set period of time on an egg timer which they can hold while they wait. This is on but a) makes the day pass very slowly and b) is really hard at a playdate.

Also any views (I'm canvassing all and sundry) on whether twins (non ID but both boys) do better in same or separate classes at school??! They are best friends but do squabble over toys occasionally as above.

ohforfoxsake Thu 07-Jun-12 18:32:28

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.

Ishoes Thu 07-Jun-12 19:05:43

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?

porridgelover Fri 08-Jun-12 13:13:06

Hi Noel...I won a copy of your book from MN (thank you grin).
My question is: as a lone parent any advice on how to juggle when two kids simultaneously need your attention. For instance, at night, we have a cuddle in bed after lights out Sometimes, whoever I choose first, the other will have a melt-down about waiting- this is generally when we are tired or had a stressful day.

Also wanted to ask, (I havent finished your book and you may have covered it in there) how much were you influenced by Haim Gainott's work (Between Parent and Child) and the much cited 'How to talk so kids will listen' books?

VenetiaLanyon Fri 08-Jun-12 18:58:35

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

Sunflowergirl2011 Fri 08-Jun-12 20:53:17

Hi
My question is about night time. My 3.5 yr old wakes up most nights sometime between 1 and 4, often for an hr or so. Invariably we end up going into her room and one of us will lie on the floor until she goes to sleep. Obviously this is pretty exhausting but if we don't she will scream, cry and refuse to stay in her room. Any ideas? I don't like her to be upset, but I am getting fed up of falling asleep on the floor!
Tia

MarkGruffalo Fri 08-Jun-12 21:10:20

Well - have just read six glowing reviews on Amazon and therefore I am going to take a punt and order your book now. I scare myself with my shouting sometimes and something has to change.
Sadly I don't live in the UK so won't get it in time for Monday (Kindle schmindle I am too old for new gizmos and gadgets! wink) but if I have survived the school run without a meltdown then I will tune in for the webchat.

My core problem is that my eldest really really doesn't seem to have anythng she is so enraptured with that she is sad about having it taken away or confiscated.

Seriously - she can go without dvds, trips to cinema, tv, wii, treats, playdates etc without turning a hair. Which leaves you with less to bargain with it must be said.
They say the opposite to love is indifference. It isn't that she is indifferent but she would rather lose an item than lose an argument iyswim.

That was more a vent than a question. Anyway wish me luck. smile

Turniphead1 Fri 08-Jun-12 21:34:21

Hi Noel. I have read the first three chapters of your book ( having heard you on Women's Hour and then been reminded by this thread!) - so I am going to implement the Descriptive Praise section before moving on to the rest as you advise.
My parenting is rather like Isshoes (poster below) which makes me feel very sad. I seem to spend my entire life in varying degrees of irritability.

I have two questions:
- you mention different types of children ( those that are more sensitive , impulsive etc) - but surely there are different types of parents too. Does this impact upon success. I worry that I am just the type of person who finds small kids quite irritating. ( I have three - 3,6&8)

- Do parents in your experience "fall off the wagon"? I often start new parenting approaches like sticker charts etc which help behaviour only to find that they are unsustainable (or rather I fail to sustain them them...)

That said - I am excited about your book. Now to break the habit of either " over -praising " and superlatives or cross words & critism.

Inedit Sat 09-Jun-12 11:24:05

Am always looking for a good child behaviour book!
My DS is 4.5, very challenging.
Whenever I discuss with anyone(friends, family, his pre-school teachers) I feel like they are dismissive. E.g" Testosterone surge, he's just being a boy, it's because he knows he is going to school, it's the age"

I feel like I am constantly correcting, chastisting, asking him to ask nicely, don't do that, it's dangerous. He's just started arguing back!!

"No, it's not. I can do that. I will just lock them up in jail. "

What can I do to make it easier? Or is it always going to be like this?
Are there children out there who will always be very challenging?

He also seems to be having some sort of separation anxiety. He says he wants to be with me always, last night, in the middle of the night, he insisted on coming to the loo with me!

Solo Sat 09-Jun-12 14:38:15

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?

Nosleeptillgodknowswhen Sat 09-Jun-12 15:10:33

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.

Solo Sat 09-Jun-12 15:15:02

Yes, I'd like to hear an answer to Ishoos q? too.

Turniphead1 Sat 09-Jun-12 18:38:23

Yup lots of us feel like Ishoos!! I started today. My DD (8) asked me why I sound so weird & odd. Luckily the book prepares you for the fact that an older child will notice!

RaPaPaPumPumBootyMum Sat 09-Jun-12 22:26:41

Hello Noel!

If there are any more free books going I would love one! <shameless>
But seriously, I saw you speaking about your book a while ago on breakfast tv and thought your approach sounds very interesting.

I wonder if you might have any advice about potty training. My son is 3.2yrs and is still not potty trained. I have been 'training' since he was just over 2 yrs old.

He was initially interested in trying to use the potty but had no success [no wees or poos in potty] and so became disheartened. Now he has finally been getting some wees and a couple of poos in the potty - but this is only when he sits on it for a length of time and I suspect he is catching them accidently rather than with intent. He doesn't seem to recognise the bodily signals that indicate that he needs to wee and poo, and in fact if he is running around with no pants on he seems completely surprised when he does wee, as if he was not expecting it to happen.

So, do you have any advice on how to keep him motivated to keep trying and to build his confidence to keep giving the potty/toilet a go?

Thanks!

Kindling Sun 10-Jun-12 05:48:51

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?

clippityclop Sun 10-Jun-12 11:09:55

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?

MsMarple Sun 10-Jun-12 17:57:38

My DS (4) is generally a lovely boy and fun to have around, until it comes to doing something he doesn't want to do...

So, when its time to leave someone's house he wails and kicks until we are half way home, and when I ask him to tidy up his toys at the end of the day he completely ignores me unless I put them in a binbag and am actually about to throw them out of the door. I've tried staying quietly calm and resolute, and I've tried out-screaming him too blush but neither has much effect. Frankly I just long for a little less drama and a little bit more doing what he's told the first time.

Have you got any strategies I could try?

LittleBugsMum Sun 10-Jun-12 20:40:30

Hi there Noel,

To be honest, I'm only a few pages in but I'm very excited to be a calmer and less 'shouty' mummy! I'm sorry if you cover this but what is in your opinion, the best approach to violence in a (nearly) 3 year old boy?

It doesn't seem to always be triggered by anger but I react the same way, telling off/shouting then the naughty step. It's really upsetting me and therefore affecting our relationship somewhat. He says sorry immediately after he does it (unless he thinks I haven't seen him) and he sees how upset I am but it doesn't change his behaviour.

Any advice? Thank you.

Hi Noel

I have a child with SEN, low self esteem who gets frustrated and angry very easily, she doesnt sleep till eleven/midnight and is up again at five, if she doesnt understand homework it she will not even attempt it no matter how much you try to help her, I have to ask her a billion times before she does what I have asked.

I have a degree in childcare, nnebs and nvqs and over 10 years experience with children and have never had a child like dd.

I think it doesnt help that we are both shattered all the time.

I have tried sticker charts, time outs, removing toys etc, in the end I end up shouting and then feel guilty.

missorinoco Sun 10-Jun-12 21:38:36

Hi. I'm trying to be a less shouty parent, using a variety of techniques.

I struggle especially when the children play up at times at which they know they have you, so to speak. I have three aged five (just) and under. I realise part of the reason they play up at such points is to test you will stay firm, but I usually end up shouting, although not necessarily at the misbehaving child.

For example, my three year old had a tantrum today whilst the playdough was out. It coincided with the one year old having just woken, whilst I was trying to make lunch. I ended up running between the step, the grill, and eventually moved the five year old from the kitchen where he had finished with the play dough, and stuck him in the sitting room with the now crying one year old. My attempt to not shriek and sing loudly in the kitchen was met by a look of horror by the five year old.

Sorry, that was long and waffly, but it's the home front that gets me, when it's all going off at once.

Any suggestions for such times? Advice would be appreciated.

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.

Solo Mon 11-Jun-12 12:42:53

Thank you for your answer. So you feel that it'll be worthwhile if I save up to buy your book? My Dd is only 5, so maybe it'll do good for her ~ even though she copies him and his ways...

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:46:50

HRHOliviaMumsnet

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

It's embarrassing when our children copy our worst traits. The more you Descriptively Praise, the sooner you'll hear your son saying nice things to his friends. A way to avoid many reprimands is to use the strategy called Think-throughs that I explain in the Chapter on Preparing for Success. Often we are so busy and distracted that we wait until something goes wrong and then react to it. That tends to cause resentment in our children as well as ourselves. A Think-through, however, gets the same point across without any annoyance or telling off. A Think-through happens at a neutral time, not right before or after the prblem behaviour. A Think-through takes one minute at the most. In a Think-through, instead of the parent lecturing the child, the parent asks the child what he should do about something, and the child has to answer. As he answers, his brain automatically creates a vivid mental image of himself doing whatever it is he's saying he should do. This mental image is very powerful. And the more often you're willing to do these one-minute Think-throughs the sooner your child will remember what he should do, will want to do what he should do, and will actually do what he should do. Think-throughs can be used for new rules and for existing rules tha have become fuzzy because you haven't been following through consistently. Think-throughs are also useful for preparing children (and teens) for whatever is about to happen. Remember that the key is the parent asking and the child telling.

HRHOliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Jun-12 12:49:45

Many thanks. Have downloaded your book and look forward to the calm <positive>
grin

Hi,

I haven't seen an answer about how to calm down enough to use these strategies when hopping mad! Any tips?

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:50:48

Mushi44

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

Star charts and sticker charts can be very motivating, especially if you are Descriptively Praising at the same time. Specifically for going to the loo, in addition to rewards I recommend that you start the habit of taking him to the loo and having him sit on the loo for a minute numerous times a day, for example every hour. Tell your grandson that he doesn't have to produce anything. He just has to sit there until you tell him to get up. This routine will result within a few days or a few weeks in him going to the loo. You haven't said how old your grandson is. If he;s old enough to answer questions, do several Think-throughs a day about this.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 12:58:00

Sunflowergirl2011

Hi
My question is about night time. My 3.5 yr old wakes up most nights sometime between 1 and 4, often for an hr or so. Invariably we end up going into her room and one of us will lie on the floor until she goes to sleep. Obviously this is pretty exhausting but if we don't she will scream, cry and refuse to stay in her room. Any ideas? I don't like her to be upset, but I am getting fed up of falling asleep on the floor!
Tia

Part of the reason she's waking up is probably because she's getting a lot of attention for it. It doesn't do her or you any good when you lie on the floor till she falls asleep. Sleep is a natural function and doesn't require you to do anything special. During the day do Think-throughs with your daughter about what will happen when she wakes in the middle of the night. What I recommend you do is take her by the hand and walk her back to her bed, without talking to her, without making eye contact, without picking her up, without asking her what's the matter, etc. You may have a few nights of her testing you by getting up many times. But because she's tired, her natural bodily reaction will be to fall asleep. Make sure to give her some special time alone with you every day so that she doesn't need to misbehave to get your attention.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 13:01:35

BlueEyeshadow

Hi,

I haven't seen an answer about how to calm down enough to use these strategies when hopping mad! Any tips?

As I responded to Ishoes, we will be less angry when we are making a point of taking care of our own needs. One way to do this is to take some time for yourself every day. Another way to help yourself be less angry is to stop doing things for your family that they can do for themselves. Not only will you have more time and energy, but your children will become more competent and confident. And they will respect you more, nobody respects an unpaid servant smile

Am I allowed to say "Yes, but"? That may work in general, but I'm talking about the specific moment.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 13:07:44

gazzalw

Hi Janis

A source of tension in our household has always been homework - at least for DS anyway! In Year 6 homework has eased off probably because a lot of the children were doing selective school exams and SATS and the teacher felt (rightly) that they had enough pressure. Needless to say there have been a lot fewer arguments which has made after-school time a lot more harmonious.

However, DS will be starting at one of the super-selectives in September and I can imagine that the battles will start again. He has already been warned that a lot more will be expected of him when he does homework at grammar school but we are already dreading the battles - a leopard doesn't change his spots overnight methinks.

How would you recommend that we tackle this?

In my book I have a whole chapter on how to make homework enjoyable as well as productive. I can give you a few tips now but there are more in the book. Make sure that screen time comes after homework and is a reward for homework done to your satisfaction. Find out from the school how long homework should take in your child's year and set a timer for exactly that amount of time. With this strategy your child will soon be taking responsibility for doing his homework within that time, rather than it being your job to drag him through his homework. I'm assuming that your son can do his homework well. If he can, it's his job to do it. If he can't, then you need to talk to the school rather than you re-teaching it to him. If you do that the teacher won't know what your son is actually capable of and will continue to set him work that's too difficult. Children need a healthy snack before they settle down to brain work. But of course the snacks they want are high fat, high salt and high sugar. Those snacks will undermine your child's ability to concentrate, to learn and to remember. If you're wondering how you can wean your child off unhealthy snacks, you will find the answers to this question and to many others in my book. I wish I had the time to answer in more detail and to answer more of the questions that have come in.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Jun-12 13:13:18

Thanks so much to Noel for joining us today. Noel is going to be appearing at several book shop events in the South East just before the school holidays talking through her techniques. We'll be posting up details of where she'll be appearing later today. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions today. If you weren't lucky to get a copy of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting in our giveaway, you can buy for £8.99 at Amazon.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 13:13:32

maples

Hi Noel, I haven't read your book yet and I am sure it is full of useful strategies. I look forward to learning more by reading the webchat.

My question is this, do you feel the plethora of parenting books is undermining our ability to trust our own instincts with our children?

I must admit to having wept when reading the Baby Whisperer when DS was small - it has not been retained smile

What is not widely understood is that parenting is not instinctive. For example, mother gorillas don't know how to take care of their babies unless they have seen other mother gorillas taking care of babies. In previous generations, parenting knowledge was passed down within families and passed around within cohesive communities. Sadly this is no longer true. So we need to learn in other ways. Parenting books can be very helpful, particularly if they go into enough detail so that a parent really knows how to do what the author suggests. That's what I have done in my book, which is why it's more that 400 pages long!
If you happen to have a child who is by temperament relatively easy going, you may find parenting advice useful but not essential. However, if you have a child who is naturally more sensitive, more intense, more impulsive or more inflexible, you are likely to find that parenting advice is a life-saver, or at least a sanity-saver.

NoelJanisNorton Mon 11-Jun-12 13:21:54

I hope you've found my responses useful. I'm sorry that I couldn't get to every single one of you. But many of the questions covered the same themes, so I'm hoping that by reading some answers to other mums you may hear some information that is useful to you.
If you live anywhere near London you might want to come to the free Introductory Talks that we give at our centre every fortnight. If you send your email address to admin@calmerparenting.co.uk, we'll put you on our email list, and you'll receive updates about our free talks and other events and resources.
Do feel free to visit the website www.calmerparenting.co.uk

Rindercella Mon 11-Jun-12 13:22:56

Oh, really disappointed not to have got a response.

Inedit Mon 11-Jun-12 13:27:16

me too
very sad

Nosleeptillgodknowswhen Mon 11-Jun-12 14:14:57

Not sure how useful the 'make time for yourself' strategy is. Great in theory, but in practice, with 3 dcs and a stressful part-time-plus job, it's never going to happen!

ZaksMama Mon 11-Jun-12 14:19:20

Hi Noel,

I need to stop yelling for my sanity, my husbands & most importantly my 3 1/2 yr old son. Every day we wake up and he now asks that it be a no yelling day, which speaks volumes.

Yelling mostly occurs because I ask 1, 2, 3 times I raise my voice, 4 & 5 I am shouting and make go to bed threats. Most of the times, he will do as requested. The handful of times he hasn't, I have followed through with my threat.

He has also been a crier/whiner, which drives me nuts. He also does not do well with transitions, and we manage this by timing things and giving minute reminders. This usually works well.

However, diaper changes, eating, picking up toys, and a variety of other daily occurrences are met with resistance, he will run & hide, kick & cry or just plain say never. This leads to lots of yelling, an occasional smack. He will eventually calm and apologize, but this routine cycle is not how any of us want to live. There has got to be a better way to have him listen, do what needs to be done and move on to better things.

He has also taken to telling stories, say after kicking Dad when trying to get changed. He'll get yelled at, and he'll say there was a bug (he needed to get so that's why he hit). I didn't know 3 1/2 yr old could come up with such stories already.

He is not a good eater, he won't potty train and he still will not fall asleep in his bed. He falls asleep with us in living room and we bring him in to bed. Or we will read in bed with him, and only when he is sound asleep can we leave.

I feel like a failure as a Mama, as every turn is met with resistance and often times lose my voice because I am constantly yelling about something. School mornings are the worst, trying to get changed, dressed, brushed, nourished, and out the door... every moment met with resistance.

Help, please...

JustFab Mon 11-Jun-12 17:38:10

"What is not widely understood is that parenting is not instinctive. For example, mother gorillas don't know how to take care of their babies unless they have seen other mother gorillas taking care of babies."

This really hit home. Not because I am a gorilla <eyes unshaved legs> but because I was abandoned by my mother so didn't have one to show me how to take care of my own children. What has thrown me with my children is I used to be a nanny and did really well with those children. Instinct really kicked in. With my own children I don't seem to have it as lack of confidence has really taken over along with other issues.

swanthingafteranother Mon 11-Jun-12 18:44:22

Am I the only person who is struck by how some people aren't listening to the essential message. Stop trying to get your children to do what YOU want, and blaming Them for everything.
Listen, think what they need, get them on your side, and they will want to please you.

Zaksmum your little boy is obviously frustrated by not being potty trained, and needs a proper bedtime (he sounds completely overtired and confused by what is expected of him - no wonder he is resorting to "stories"

Lovefruitandveg - I am horrified that you think a little boy of six should be "serious about his studies". Write a whole page shock "Compliance"

There are people here who just think their children ought to "obey" them regardless of the context or developmental stage. Not surprisingly the children feel pretty cheesed off and defiant.

I think the "making time for yourself" is not about going to spas, eating cake - it is more the message of approaching your child in a positive way, not as a scape goat for your own bad feelings. So if you are cross about something already, don't blame your child because they made things worse..

I dunno, but this has made me feel a bit ashamed of the way we expect our children to be "good" without really showing them how to behave at all sad

cybbo Mon 11-Jun-12 22:34:14

Nosleep everyone can make time for themselves. You've just got to cArve it out from somewhere, even if it's before everyone else gets up or after they've all gone to bed

Lovefruitsandvegs Tue 12-Jun-12 12:48:50

swanthingafteranother, nothing to be horrified about. He is not a toddler and they expect quite a lot at school.

morecoffee Tue 12-Jun-12 13:26:17

it's so, so true that time for yourself can have a seriously positive impact on controlling your emotional responses to tricky/stressful everyday family situations. try these? - getting up extra early to have a cuppa in peace before the house awakes, taking five minutes to take some deep breaths outside, (or some yoga) and (try to) switch off... if dh or someone handy available(!) a quick evening walk or run - ten minutes is totally better than nothing. however I'm not so good at practicing what I preach as I know this works for me, yet everything else seems to take higher priority! I just keep on reintroducing it and ALWAYS feel better. the effect is immediate and 100% positive every time without fail. I think we all need to get rid of the guilt for doing something that we feel is indulgent yet is really essential to our mental survival!!

Sunflowergirl2011 Tue 12-Jun-12 20:53:11

So excited to have got a question answered on the web chat for the first time! Thanks smile
Now off to remember and put into action the advice...

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