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Fans of 'How to talk so your kids will listen...' - come and convince me

(30 Posts)
becstarlitsea Wed 29-Jul-09 09:28:42

... that it could work for my DS. I bought it after being recommended it on MN when I was struggling with DSs behaviour, but I can't recognise my DS in the scenarios at all and am really sceptical about how to apply it, or whether I should pick and choose a few bits and try them, and if so, which ones. My DS is 3.

It seems like I'm reading about kids who easily get discouraged or worry about what their Mum thinks/feels. It also seems like it's talking about kids who don't usually tell you all about how they feel, and what's going on for them. DS never, ever, ever shuts up and tells us every single thought that crosses his mind. (DH saw what I was reading and inquired if there's another book called 'How to get your kids will shut the fuck up for five seconds so you can get an occasional word in edgewise')

EG yesterday - Scenario - I'm running a fever with swine flu, have been stuck inside in tiny flat with DS all day, he's been IM-POSS-IB-LE and his latest trick is to take a 2 litre bottle of water out of the fridge, take it into the living room and pour the whole bottle on the floor, while I was in the bathroom cleaning up wee from where he peed all over the towels on the rail.

'DS you poured water all over the floor on purpose didn't you?'
'Sorry Mum'
'Please could you clean it up for me?'
'No, because I'm playing with my fire engine, I'm too busy'
'DS please, help me out here.'
'Mum, are you sad?'
'Yes, I am a bit, I've got a lot on this evening, and now there's water all over the floor and I'd really like you to clean it up. And you're not sorry you did it, are you?'
'I said 'sorry''
'Did you mean it?'
'No not really, I'm happy playing with my fire engine. Would you like a kiss Mum?'
'No, I want you to clean up the water!'
'Mum, don't worry. Just clean it up now and then make my dinner.'

So tell me. Is this really the right book for me? And if so, how???

PS the scenario above did not end in violence, and for that I congratulate myself. Some days my highest achievement is not strangling him...

foofi Wed 29-Jul-09 09:31:15

I like your story! grin

I bought the teen one ages ago and haven't got round to reading it yet. Must find it...

mankyscotslass Wed 29-Jul-09 09:36:08

I've just bought the book to help me with my tribe, and on first read through it does make sense. In fact I am ashamed of myself and how I have been dealing with my three. blush

I'm going to read through it again over the next few days and plan to start fresh on Monday.

I've already put one of the ideas into practise, and it did work, it was getting my youngest to draw a picture of how he feels to divert a tantrum.

why not see if they have it in your local library and have a nosey to see if it suits you?

becstarlitsea Wed 29-Jul-09 09:41:41

I've read it mankyschotslass. That's my trouble, I've read it and I just don't recognise my DS in the scenarios.

eg it says that if you deny your kids feelings they become frustrated and upset. The other day DS fell over and hurt himself. DH said 'Come on it wasn't that bad.' DS didn't get sad about it, he just said 'Well, it wasn't you that fell on over, Dad, so you don't know whether it was bad or not, do you?' DH admitted that he didn't and DS said 'Well, don't talk nonsense, then.' In other words, I don't think he lacks confidence in the way that the kids in the scenarios do. DS seems perfectly capable of talking, and if we're not listening properly, he's capable of making us listen whether we like it or not! What I seem incapable of doing is persuading him that sometimes I know best.

mckenzie Wed 29-Jul-09 09:43:08

becstarlitsea has already bought it manky smile.

I have been dipping in and out of it the last few weeks and using bits with my 2 (DS age 8, DD age 4). I'm finding that it isn't the answer to all my prayers but it is helping with some. For me, it helps that i now feel like I am doing something positive and the control is back in my hands as I have a bit more of a plan of how to handle some situations. Some things work really well (sitting down with both DCs and asking them for ideas of ways to solve an issue, such as them screaming at each other, writing them all down and then talking through them). Also, the tips for getting something done by your DC without resorting to nagging. That has really helped.

I would suggest that it's worth giving it a go becstarlitsea and having an open mind. If it doesn't work for you and your DS, at least you tried smile.

And, may i say, top top marks to you for keeping your cool with that little scenario yesterday. Seriously - well done grin

mckenzie Wed 29-Jul-09 09:48:11

I would agree Bec that the children in the book didn't seem like my two at all but it doesn't seem to have mattered. I'd do like you suggested, tweak it as necessary to suit your DS. Use the bits that you think he might relate to and dump the other stuff. Or try it all and see what happens.

mankyscotslass Wed 29-Jul-09 09:49:25

Oops that teaches me for trying to read and reply when helping DD sing at her mermaid game. blush

And after the book says to give your DC's your full attention when dealing with them. blush blush


I agree that on first reading I think there will be bits that I can use and bits I won't.

And I agree you did well to keep your cool. I wouldn't. blush

doggiesayswoof Wed 29-Jul-09 09:54:34

Hi bec

I have this book and I use bits occasionally with DD (5) - it does work and I sometimes wonder if I applied it a bit more I would get even better results. DD is not easily discouraged either and doesn't seem to bother what we think, but the tips on communication still seem to work.

In the scenario you talk about in your OP, using the book, I guess you might have expressed your disapproval a bit more strongly. "That is not acceptable, it has made me feel angry" or something. It strikes me that you didn't really give your DS much feedback?

Also you could maybe do the explaining thing that's recommended "when water gets spilled on the floor, it spoils the carpet/laminate/whatever and it wastes the water which I have bought. That is why we don't pour water on the floor. Water that comes out of the fridge is for drinking."

Then if he won't help just describe what you see "there is a huge puddle of water on the floor here"

The book would say you shouldn't have pleaded with him!

(who knows whether this approach would have worked with your ds, but you won't know if you don't give it a shot)

Congrats for not throttling him btw grin

thehairybabysmum Wed 29-Jul-09 10:02:54

If my ds, also 3 does something like this. I would tell him to clean it up (nicely though) not ask as such, ie ' right ds you need to clean this up now please. I would forget the 'for me please' aspect.

If he doesnt then i will count to 3 after stating punishment if i get to 3. In this case i would take fire engine away until mess is cleaned up.

I rarely get to 3...though i do often hang on the thr.... Does seem to work for my ds though.

I have been counting to 3 for a while now and it generally works. Ive just bought this book here It seems a stricter version of what i was doing anyway. It talks about how if you talk too much at them when you are actually wanting them to do somthing that they then dont filter out what you are actually asking IYSWIM.

I have also bought the how to talk... book; not read it yet but have been told its better for older children.

Hope i havent made a mumsnet faux pas by suggesting this book (a la GF) but i think it is a simple system that is not harsh.

doggiesayswoof Wed 29-Jul-09 10:06:14

I agree that some of the scenarios would not work with younger children - sitting down with a pen and paper to problem solve, for e.g.

But some of the snappier bits worked well with DD when she was 3.

I was always amazed when I said "I can see a big messy pile of clothes on the floor" she would rush to pick them up. I would spend ages asking, telling, pleading with her to tidy them up and she wouldn't budge.

becstarlitsea Wed 29-Jul-09 10:08:05

Thank you both for the acknowledgement of my restraint grin . There aren't enough medals given out for this stuff. Some days I would much rather run out into gunfire than go into the bathroom to see why DS has just say 'Uh-oh - Mum I'd think you'd better come in here...'.

So from your feedback I'm going to pick out a few tips and try them. Does anyone particularly recommend one or two of the tips for a 3 year old? I can't imagine doing the one of asking him for ways to solve a problem. DS could brainstorm 100 ideas for mischief per minute, but he doesn't really understand the concept of solving problems, only the joy of creating them. I did try the 'one word' thing - 'Fingers!' as he was shutting a door . He said 'But I want to trap my fingers.' and 'one word' turned into a long tripartite discussion between DS, DH and I on the various merits and demerits of finger amputation... But I think that one could perhaps work in another situation.

Any thoughts on which ones would be good?

becstarlitsea Wed 29-Jul-09 10:18:49

Thanks doggiesayswoof and hairybabysmum.

Okay. So the tips I could use...

I stop saying 'please' and pleading with him (despite the temptation to lie on the floor and beg 'mercy, mercy!' which is ever present!), and describe what I see instead.

I express disapproval more strongly (fair enough, I do have a tendency not to show anger because I'm scared by anger myself (ishoos...) and I guess that's why I moderate what I say, perhaps too much).

I explain more why it's not a good thing to do.

Any more? Reading it, I'm overwhelmed by things that aren't appropriate so I'm having difficulty filtering out ones that I could actually use with my DS.

Really helpful, everyone, thanks so much!

JimmyMcNulty Wed 29-Jul-09 10:20:38

Your ds sounds just like mine (just turned 3). His favourite phrase when I start to get cross is a very empathetic-sounding "Are you a bit sad/cross, Mummy? Awwww." He is very good at mirroring my tone of voice so if I act disappointed that he has just drawn on the wall and tell him not to, he will say "Oh dear! What a shame! But I like doing it!" (sounding regretful but with a shrug-of-the-shoulders type "I can't help myself").

I have still found How To Talk very helpful though. I might have this wrong, but in the situation you describe I think it would be in keeping with the book to say "I know you you want to play with your fire engine but sadly there is a huge puddle of water on the floor which means that you can't play until it's cleaned up as otherwise we will all step in it and get wet and have to go and change our socks." Then don't let him play until it's done.

I've found with ds that often the only way he'll do what I ask is if the consequences of not doing it are annoying enough for it to be worth his while. We did a similar thing when potty training when he was capable of holding it but didn't want to stop playing - we didn't tell him off at all but traipsed upstairs and spent ages cleaning him up and helping him get new pants and trousers from his drawer etc so that he had to stop playing anyway.

JimmyMcNulty Wed 29-Jul-09 10:23:28

x-posted with your later post... I think we may actually have the same ds. Mine also says things like "But I WANT to trap my fingers in the door". And "But I LIKE being sad."

Hurray I am not alone! grin

franklymydear Wed 29-Jul-09 10:28:36

How to talk is shite if you ask me. I tried it for 3 days until my husband pointed out that I'd turned into one of those irritating child-centric constantly talking and emoting parents that I used to complain about

becstarlitsea Wed 29-Jul-09 10:30:39

Oh JimmyMcNulty, you get it. (and a salute from a fellow Wire fan). I'm reassured. Your DS is clearly very like mine - the empathy with a shrug of the shoulders thing is exactly what I get from him. The tone of our conversation yesterday was basically 'What a shame for you that you're sad that I spilt the water. I shall comfort you with a kiss. I've moved on now, and am happy playing with my fire engine, I suggest that you move on too. Now off you go and clean it up.'

franklymydear Wed 29-Jul-09 10:32:16

Take Fire Engine away

Say "DS you can have fire engine as soon as the mess you've made has been cleared up" Hand DS tea-towel to stomp on over wet patch - stomp with him

Look delighted, grin and hand back fire engine

wass the problem with that?

BertieBotts Wed 29-Jul-09 10:36:27

Have you seen this site? Get off your butt parenting - it's supposed to be really good. The website is mainly Christian but it's not all about God, this page in particular I think anyone could make use of.

becstarlitsea Wed 29-Jul-09 10:52:30

franklymydear - I know what you mean about the emoting thing - I have a few child psychiatrists in my family and social circle and lovely as they are (and great parents) I don't want to sound like any of them...

By the way I didn't continue the scenario to the end and since a few of you are giving me alternate endings I should give you the rest of the story. I gave him a tea towel and told him to clear up or the fire engine would go in 'time out'. The dinner was burning on the hob and there was still wee on the bathroom floor to clear up so I went to deal with that and asked him to mop the floor and I'd come back and help. By the time I was back there was a plant upended on the floor and the earth had come out of its pot so the water had turned to mud, DS was sent to his room while I rescued dinner and cleared up the mud. As I turned to go back to his room and get him there was an almighty crash from inside, and I came in to find total chaos - he'd pulled everything onto the floor from his shelves. So I asked him to clear that up and he could come out of his room when it was tidy. Total silence reigned. I went back after 15 minutes - his room was in a worse state and he said 'Go away, I'm playing.'. I went and made myself a Lemsip and watched some TV and had a little cry. After a while he shouted 'I'm finished playing now.' 'Is everything tidy?' Silence. A bit later 'It's tidy now.' I opened the door, and we tidied up the last bits together. DH walks through the door from work. 'Dinner smells good' he says. The flat is tidy, the mud has gone, DSs room looks tidy, there is no wee in the bathroom, my tears are dried, and dinner is done - just as if I'd been coping all day...

mankyscotslass Wed 29-Jul-09 11:03:24

I think you deserve more than a medal after that. I would have turned into a wreck. grin

I actually think you handled it well. smile

But I do think that you may need to be firmer with your disapproval too, and be clearer on the consequences.

Going back to the book, I would say read it through when you have some decent time to yourself and make notes, I am doing that this week.

staylucky Wed 29-Jul-09 11:10:32

Hiya becstarlitsea

Not heard of the book but am going have a look out for it. I just wanted to say your husbands remark about shutting up I can totally relate to!! My dd is 5 and sometimes will just talk complete utter bollocks for hours on end. Also find the not really meaning sorrys very frustrating. We can go from a serious telling off to " do you know what molly so-and-so from Receptions favourite colour is" in a heartbeat. It's hard cause dh will get cross and hold on to it for a whole evening whereas I do like to get things over with and make things peaceful again quite soon. Lifes too short....

Sympathy anyway frm a fellow parent of a head blagger, I don't know what the answers are wish I did! Agreed that sometimes I've tried explaining things more when I ask her to do something and it just turns everything Into a 20 minute discussion that she doesn't remember anyway. Rahhhhhhh!!!!

Another well done from me for holding your temper, I guarentee I wouldve been screaming for 15 minutes.

JimmyMcNulty Wed 29-Jul-09 11:20:07

becstarlitsea - that IS coping all day!

franklymydear - when pressed for time (or patience) we often do as you suggest, ie no explanation. But it tends to result in a tantrum and with ds2 due any day now I am a bit ungainly and prefer not to have to step over a screaming ball of outrage on my way out into the next room. Atm I will go for any solution that doesn't involve tears and shouting if I can help it. [Emoting frantically]

becstarlitsea Wed 29-Jul-09 11:27:59

Aw, thanks to all for the kind words on my coping, that makes me feel much better. If I'd ever worked as hard at a job as I did yesterday I would have been praised to the skies by my boss (not that I ever did work that hard... smile) But with a 3 year old all I think is 'Why can I not manage a whole day with DS without succumbing to total hysteria?' Thankfully my friend has DS over for a playdate (she and her brood have had the dreaded SF already so don't have to worry about him being infectious - he doesn't have symptoms anyway, whereas I feel pretty rubbish). I'll be a much nicer mummy for having had a break from him...

franklymydear Wed 29-Jul-09 11:32:29

HTTer to 3 year old "Now darling, when Mummy sees the mess mummy feels sad so we shouldn't make a mess"

3 year old hears "Waahh hwwahhhhh wahhh mess"

HTTer emotes more

3 year old continues to do what it likes but at least its calm yes?

that's 'cos it's doing what it wants to grin

JimmyMcNulty Wed 29-Jul-09 11:37:39

franklymydear - good grief no, it would hardly be worth it if it didn't work would it? Result is 3-y-o is calm while failing to realise he is now doing what I want... wink

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