Talk

Advanced search

Right - give me your best positive parenting tips because I'm a woman on the edge

(18 Posts)
JoshandJamie Thu 24-Jul-08 21:20:56

My 4.5 year old son has never been easy but good god, he is pushing my boundaries at the moment. I am finding it incredibly hard to get out of the negative, shouty parenting mode. When I try to talk calmly and rationally to him, he puts his hands over his ears and yells: DON'T TALK TO ME. He doesn't listen until I yell.

I know that when I try to make things a game instead of head to head conflict it does work, as does praising the positive etc but we're on one of those diminishing spirals where there is less and less positive stuff to praise. And even when he does do something 'good' he almost immediately undoes it.

EVery day I wake up and think: Today is going to be a positive day. And by the time I put them to bed, I can barely bring myself to kiss him goodnight and he's usually got me in tears. It's got to the point where I'm willing to pay £90 for a parenting counselling session but really just want a reminder of some good tips that will work.

I hate posting these kinds of posts because I always find myself becoming defensive and thinking: but I've done that and it doesnt't work and these people who seem to think it's so easy obviously don't have a child like this. But I refuse to get defensive. I'm listening. I need help.

lilyfire Thu 24-Jul-08 21:44:25

I have a son who's 4 3/4 and we definitely have days like you're describing. I know what should be doing, like you do, but when I'm knackered and the little ones are screaming and DS1 is doing something totally stupid for no reason except to make my life harder (so it seems) I just forget about games and positives and end up screaming at him. I do sometimes forget he's still only 4 and expect him to be much more sensible than he is most of the time, because he is quite articulate and sensible some of the time. Maybe that's part of the problem at this age. They are still really littlies, but we expect them to be more rational.
I guess the only advice can suggest - which often fail to take myself, is that sometimes making a joke diffuses the situation and we both end up laughing, and 'don't sweat the small stuff' - so do pick your battles. I worry I end up being too lax because of this, but if I don't let quite a lot of stuff go, then I seem to spend the whole day telling him off. Also my son needs to be fed, watered and exercised regularly and if he's being atrocious it may be because he needs a snack or a run round the park.
Also I think I sometimes forget to cuddle him enough, because I seem to be constantly having to pick up one of his younger brothers. He does like it if I grab him and kiss and cuddle him for no reason.
Ok having read this back it doesn't sound very helpful, so will send you lots of sympathy as well.

LittleBella Thu 24-Jul-08 21:48:08

OK my tip may not be very useful but it is to dump all the praising the positive etc. and to read "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn.

It has completely liberated me from all that conditional positive crap. I still shout occasionally, but OMG it has become so much easier...

Morloth Thu 24-Jul-08 21:48:35

I second the "don't sweat the small stuff" its so easy to get into the habit of correcting them all the time, that I sometimes find myself on his case for no reason at all really.

We also had a "Yes" day on Sunday, I spend so much time saying "No" "Stop" "You Can't" etc that I tried really hard to say "Yes" for the whole day, he surprised me - didn't ask for anything outrageous at all.

Also the just randomly grabbing them and giving them a kiss and cuddle is a fab idea especially if you are having a hard day.

Sorry not much help other than to say that we are all going through/have been through/will go through the same thing!

Hassled Thu 24-Jul-08 21:59:25

Agree completely re picking your battles. If you pursue every little niggling thing that annoys you then you will go crazy. Just let some things go - prioritise the worst of the behaviour, focus on that and when it's sorted you can move on to other things.

Someone told me (I have no science to back this up) that boys get a burst of testosterone in their 4th year, and I can well believe it - I have 3 DSs, all of whom have been monstrous at 4 and then settled down. So repeat to yourself at regular intervals that it will get better - and it really will.

I have no magic tips - my DCs always get a firm "Can you stop please?", followed by "you need to stop by the time I've counted to 5" followed by "Go to your room". And yes I've physically carried them there at times. Don't shout - speak more quietly than normal. It shocks them into listening. A top MN tip that's helped me is the imagining there's a film crew in the room - it keeps you from losing it at times.

lilyfire Thu 24-Jul-08 22:04:07

yes, i forgot counting. for some reason I haven't worked out mine also responds really well to 'you need to do x by the time I count to 5' (or 3 or whatever, depending on the urgency of the situation) suppose it speaks to their competitive element.

TwoCurlyWurlies Thu 24-Jul-08 22:45:35

Oh, I remember that. Lots of sympathy from me too.

I often felt completely at a loss with my ds a year ago. It's only looking back that I realise how much has changed - he's now 5. Yes he's still a boisterous noisy boy and drives me mad every day, but now when I tell him he needs to go in time out, he actually goes there, and stays there, and apologises once he's calmed down. He's still sometimes shouting "I hate you!" from the bottom stair, but hey, you can't have everything.

I have always been firm and consistent with the behaviours I felt were important to change, and although it's taken a long time, I think it's been worth it. I am also working on accepting some things for what they are, like the fact that boys seem to act first and think later. They are not being deliberately difficult, just impulsive. Sometimes it's hard to be philosophical - this evening ds lobbed a big stone across the garden with a tennis racket, narrowly missing dd's head! aarrgghh....

Hang in there.

TwoCurlyWurlies Thu 24-Jul-08 22:45:35

Oh, I remember that. Lots of sympathy from me too.

I often felt completely at a loss with my ds a year ago. It's only looking back that I realise how much has changed - he's now 5. Yes he's still a boisterous noisy boy and drives me mad every day, but now when I tell him he needs to go in time out, he actually goes there, and stays there, and apologises once he's calmed down. He's still sometimes shouting "I hate you!" from the bottom stair, but hey, you can't have everything.

I have always been firm and consistent with the behaviours I felt were important to change, and although it's taken a long time, I think it's been worth it. I am also working on accepting some things for what they are, like the fact that boys seem to act first and think later. They are not being deliberately difficult, just impulsive. Sometimes it's hard to be philosophical - this evening ds lobbed a big stone across the garden with a tennis racket, narrowly missing dd's head! aarrgghh....

Hang in there.

JoshandJamie Thu 24-Jul-08 23:06:21

Thank you all. I feel so much better reading your replies - especially your advice lilyfire. All great stuff. Have had a good long rant to DH tonight including a good cry and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

I did actually do the not sweating the small stuff today. The boys took out a bunch of stuff from a cupboard that I really didn't want them to because it invariably means more mess and more broken stuff. I was about to say no but I just let them get on with it. There was a mess, but afterwards I said: You boys have had fun playing with that, but now I need you to pack it up. And lo and behold they did.

It's just so hard to know which battles to pick - the fine line between letting them getting away with too much and being over zealous.

Thanks again though. Great advice - and littlebella, I've heard so much about that book that I think I must get it.

Pruners Thu 24-Jul-08 23:15:00

Message withdrawn

LittleBella Thu 24-Jul-08 23:53:45

Honestly J+J I'd been hearing about it on here for years and kept ignoring it and then in the end I succumbed and read it and thought "Blimey, this is so obvious and so true, why didn't I read it years ago?!"

Buy it buy it, you won't regret it! (I would offer you my copy but I've passed it on to someone else in an evangelical fit of fervour)
grin

melpomene Fri 25-Jul-08 14:41:38

This book is also good.

One of the main messages in the book is getting kids to help with solving problems, eg brainstorming solutions to conflict areas. Or, for example, if you're not happy with a situation, describe the problem (and how you feel about it) and let them 'work out' what to do. eg instead of saying "you're so untidy" or "clear up that mess now!" say "I see toys and clothes all over the floor. Things can get lost or broken when they're left on the floor." It works sometimes!

The book also has an interesting section on how to avoid 'labelling' children as naughty, forgetful, irresponsible etc.

TooTiredToday Fri 25-Jul-08 15:02:14

Just like 2 curlies (sounds rude!)
I remember being in a supermarket when a very kindly mum said to me 'let me guess, he's 4 right?' And said 4 yr old is now a delightful 5 yr old sometimes and a real pain other times. But he's a boy, and needs regular food, sleep and exercise much more than my DDs.

JoshandJamie Fri 25-Jul-08 17:09:47

melpomene - I did see that book and wondered whether to get it. I think I run the risk of being overwhelmed by too many books. I've now ordered the Alfie Kohn one and will give it a go. If that fails, I'll rever to the next book

juuule Fri 25-Jul-08 17:21:14

I'd second the Unconditional Parenting recommendation.

Elasticwoman Fri 25-Jul-08 17:43:45

Some v g advice here about counting, giving choice, not sweating the small stuff, but has any one said yet, Actions Speak Louder Than Words? By that I mean that if a child knows what the consequence of certain behaviour will be, and knows that you will carry it out, a quick reminder may be all that is required.

EG I used to have a problem with ds taking chocolate trifles from the fridge, several a day until none left for any one else. So one week, shock horror, I didn't buy any from the supermarket. He was appalled. He then understood that actually he didn't have carte blanche to help himself to as many as he liked and since then his choc. trifle consumption has been under control. OK so he's older than 4.5 but the principle works with all age groups.

itati Fri 25-Jul-08 17:45:56

I am trying to say yes as much as possible.

I count them.

I try not to shout.

It is hard though.

3littlefrogs Fri 25-Jul-08 17:49:30

Small boys need to be outside as much as possible. Think of them as puppies (in the nicest possible way). Food, exercise, more food, more exercise, and regular, adequate sleep. And I agree - pick your battles. I have 2 boys, 2 years apart, and life was always easier if they could play out - rain or shine!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now