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HELP - my (darling!) mother has set me a 'challenge' re DS1's (3) behaviour this weekend - need some strategies to deal with it

(39 Posts)
Ceebee74 Wed 24-Jun-09 16:00:54

My parents live 90 mins away so when we go over and see them, we are there all day. They have a fake coal fire where the coal bits are easily removable (and have to be laid in a certain pattern apparently hmm). Anyway, this fire is like a magnet to DS1 who thinks it is hilarious to take the coals off the fire. They did have a fireguard up which helped but it wasn't attached so he soon worked out he could move it anyway.

Anyway, my lovely mother has just informed me that she thinks DS1 is now old enough just to be told not to touch the fireplace - and he will do as he is told hmm My DS1 is what you call a 'spirited' little boy so that does not work (as my mother knows) so I feel it is some sort of test of my parenting that she is setting me.

How on earth am I going to get through a whole day trying to prevent DS1 touching the bl**dy fireplace other than spend the entire day being his entertainer???

avenginggerbil Wed 24-Jun-09 16:02:50

Light the fire???

ilove Wed 24-Jun-09 16:03:45

Actually I agree with your mum...children DO need to learn that "No means NO!"

OrmIrian Wed 24-Jun-09 16:04:22

How old is he? Can you distract with a favourite toy? or even a new toy?

Bucharest Wed 24-Jun-09 16:06:54

Tbh, at 3, I'd have thought he'd already have been taught that touching fires (even fake ones) is a big no. For his own safety.

(I realise that sounds a bit harsh, but I admit I'm a bit hmm that he's ever been allowed to fiddle with it, fake or not)

becstarlitsea Wed 24-Jun-09 16:07:44

Sorry, I do agree with your Mum, if he's 3 he does need to learn that when you say 'don't touch the fire' you mean it - it's too dangerous. What parenting strategies do you normally use when you're trying to get him to do as he's told?

OrmIrian Wed 24-Jun-09 16:09:12

Oh he's 3 is he. I think that maybe he does need to learn not to touch. Sorry.

hockeypuck Wed 24-Jun-09 16:09:21

I think you are both being a little unreasonable.

3 years old is more than old enough to understand not to touch something. DS learnt "No" at 1, surely your DS knows No, very well or he'd be burnt, hit by a car, fallen off a stepladder and a million and one other things by now. If she thinks you should "start" saying no now, what on earth have you been saying so far?

On the other hand, she s not being very considerate to accepting your parenting, if she is setting you challenges. Have you asked for this input?

Your DS will, I assume be starting school within the next year. If you don't teach him boundaries now, he will have a really though time dealing with the authority of teachers and nursery leaders too, in my opinion, it's always ,more preferable being taught these kind of things at home by parents that love you than having teachers at the end of their tether treating you as "spirited" or "naughty" and being punished at school, rather than taught it in the family.

AMumInScotland Wed 24-Jun-09 16:09:33

All the time he's in that room, you'll need to be there with him. Every time he goes to touch it you say "no", and (if necessary) prevent him from touching it. This will be boring for both of you, and he'll treat it as a challenge. But eventually, so long as you don't crack first, he will stop finding it amusing and stop trying to touch it.

Ceebee74 Wed 24-Jun-09 16:10:35

Not that it makes much difference but he isn't quite 3 yet grin

We never ever have our fire on and neither does my mum so we have never been in a position to teach him that the fire is dangerous - maybe we should have done from the start so I admit maybe we have messed up there.

Strategies we use mainly involve distraction tbh - we have tried the 'no means no' one but he is very stubborn and I just don't think me and DH are very good at it sad

Ceebee74 Wed 24-Jun-09 16:15:44

hockeypuck of course we have said no (or explained) to him about the important things - such as the oven being hot, the road is dangerous etc and he does completely understand and obey.

I guess the problem is that both us and my parents have 'let' him play with the fire without explaining that it is dangerous (even though it actually isn't in that house - it just annoys my mum when he messes up her display).

Tbh, i do find it quite hard work being at my parents as they do have a low tolerance of DS1 and his behaviour - mainly because they have never experienced such an energetic spirited boy before (my brother and nephew were both very 'easy' toddlers)

Sidge Wed 24-Jun-09 16:20:20

We have a living flame fake fire jobbie, with the fake coals. We never have it on when the children are around but even so we have taught the girls that they are NOT to touch the coals. (Apart from the safety issue they make a godawful mess as everything the child then touches leaves black patches...)

I very quickly started using my scariest voice whenever DD3 started heading for the fire. If she went to touch the fire surround, coals etc I said very loudly and in my most do-not-mess-with-me-I-am-the-scariest-mummy-ever voice "NO! You do NOT touch that fire!" then moved her away to do something else. Then as she was moved and we did something else, I would say in my soft nice-mummy voice "Good girl, away from the fire, we mustn't touch the fire as it's dangerous."

We started doing this as soon as they could crawl and DD3 is now 2.9 and never goes near fires in anyone's houses. I think for it to work you need to be firm, consistent and do the same thing every single time. If you slack off or laugh or appear half hearted then it is a game to him and he will muck about. And when it comes to it, safety isn't something to be half hearted about.

Sam100 Wed 24-Jun-09 16:21:05

I know you are looking for strategies - what does he really like? So you can go for positive reinforcement and give something for not touching? Our dd's like having stamps on their hand (pen with little shapes at the end) - would get a stamp on back of hand if they had been well behaved and they could choose the shape (packet of 10 from Tesco). Could work with stickers? Maybe make up a card and every time he leaves the fire alone when told he gets a sticker on his card?

Or a special toy that he is allowed to play with at Grandma's - but if he touches the fire the toy goes in a box for 15 minutes?

JackBauer Wed 24-Jun-09 16:26:20

I agree that she is mostly right, you may not have your fire on but if you visit someone else's house, they might, and then he could get burnt.
Practise your scary voice, deep and firm, and the first time he touches it, a normal 'No', pick up and physically remove him from it and put him near interesting toy. He may scream and go straight back to it <speaks from experience>
Then you do a firmer No, and repeat.
Third time is scary voice 'NO', remove him from the room and put him somewhere dull (like hallway).

I have to do this with DD's at my IL's as their house if full of danerous interesting things.
It normally takes 2 rounds of that, accompanied by screaming/thrashing etc but they get bored soon enough.

Fennel Wed 24-Jun-09 16:32:04

They can learn at this age that they behave differently in different houses. My nephew is 3, we look after him a lot - several times a week. At home he is relentlessly naughty for the fun of it ("in an oppositional phase" as my sister puts it). With us, he does as he's asked/told. Because we're not his parents, and because we are stricter.

Perhaps your mother could explain very clearly to him that in her house, her fire is not to be touched.

CarGirl Wed 24-Jun-09 16:35:15

I found using a pushchair was helpful with particularly challenging situations. "Nannie had told you not to touch the fire. If you touch the fire you will have to sit in the pushchair for 3 minutes"

louii Wed 24-Jun-09 16:39:24

Just don't let him touch it, don't understand what the problem is here.

Do you let him play with whatever he wants, no means no, it is your parents house and you should respect their wishes.

Grammaticus Wed 24-Jun-09 16:42:19

The thing is, "energetic" and "spirited" when applied to children only slightly older than your DS are euphemisms for "little sod" grin

He needs to be told not to touch the fake coal. He needs to know that no means no. You have to start now, or you will regret it SO MUCH later on.

Your mum's right, sorry.

Ceebee74 Wed 24-Jun-09 16:50:51

Thanks for the suggestions.

I know my mum is right and I admit we should have tackled this from day one - as we have done with other dangerous things. But, as I said earlier, as we never have the fire on, it just never occured to us to do it with fires - we all make parenting mistakes right??

So, how do I backtrack and sort it now he is nearly 3?? And grammaticus yes, DS1 can be a little sod - I admit it now, never mind in years to come!

Louii if only it was as simple as 'don't let him touch it' - if it was, I wouldn't be asking for advice here would I? No we don't let him play with whatever he wants - we have dangerous stuff put away at home, he does understand about danger etc but sometimes he seems to think the word 'no' means 'carry on and do it'.

Surely I haven't got the only toddler in the world who doesn't immediately stop what they are doing just because their parents say 'no'?

Fennel Wed 24-Jun-09 16:57:01

No, of course you are not the only one with a toddler like this grin.

and it's not too late, IMO you are moving from a phase when distraction and so on did more or less work to the age when they love to test boundaries and (perhaps) wind you up for the fun of it. So you need to develop different strategies.

(as you do again when they move out of toddlerdom and you have to have older-style sanctions and rewards).

To me it's not about danger, it's about learning that you sometimes have to behave for other reasons. Like, in other people's houses, you have to follow their rules. Or you don't get invited so much. Or aren't as welcome as a guest.

louii Wed 24-Jun-09 17:02:44

Thats why you have to enforce it.

Physically do not let him near it, remove him from room if you have to, seriously, how else will he learn that if you say no it means no.

CarGirl Wed 24-Jun-09 17:55:08

I predict it could be a very big stand off over it if this is the first time you are following through on "no" hence the pushchair suggestion, otherwise you will spend most of the visit in the hallway with him.

wonderingwondering Wed 24-Jun-09 18:03:19

I use the threat of the buggy as a last resort when we are other people's houses - DD is just turned 2. It works, and it avoids the keeping her on the naught step/repeated saying 'no' and removing that we do at home but can't really do at other people's houses (not if we want to be invited back!).

Nearly 3 is definitely old enough to understand. But don't be too hard on yourself, you'll get through this weekend and feel really pleased with yourself once you've got a handle on it. Is much more difficult when they are older.

fruitful Wed 24-Jun-09 18:05:51

What do you do at home when he wants to touch/play with something that he is not allowed to? Can't you use the same discipline at your mum's that you do at home?

If he is allowed to touch anything he likes at home, then I suggest putting something tempting in the living room and telling him he isn't allowed to touch it. Train him at home, without your mum watching you. Then when you next go to your mum's and say "don't touch" he will know you are serious, and know what to expect. He'll probably still do it, and you'll have to have a strategy in mind, but it won't be quite such a big stand-off!

alarkaspree Wed 24-Jun-09 18:06:58

I think your mother has to take some of the blame here, she has never told your ds not to touch the fire either. So she is suddenly changing the boundaries and saying, okay ds, you were previously allowed to touch the fire but now you are not.

I think you need to explain to ds in advance that he won't be allowed to touch the fire any more - maybe say it was broken, now it is fixed so it might be hot. He is old enough to understand but you have to tell him what the new rule is and explain it. Then you will have to keep reminding him. He will get the hang of it eventually.

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