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Please help me tame my wild children

(13 Posts)
Romanarama Mon 14-Sep-09 14:30:40

OK, mea culpa. I've been working long hours and so has dh, and I've just stopped because he's been transferred to a different country.

A month really spending all of the non-school time with my sons (7, 5, 3) has been a real eye opener. They are terribly badly behaved, wrestling in supermarket aisles, storming off from the dinner table, crying over who has which plate or cup, refusing to leave when it's time to go home from a playdate so that I have to physically carry them out and bundle them into the car. I could go on and on. Mealtimes and weekend outings can be really ruined by all the whining and fighting.

I'm quite shocked and feel like I have been neglectful. They have been at school and nursery, and looked after by non-pro babysitters between then and me coming home from work. I haven't been completely absent, but I see now that no one has been enforcing normal good manners and rules in a consistent way.

So, they are basically nice children who know what ps and qs are etc, and my strategy now is to be very firm in imposing easy to understand rules such as:

- everyone does what mummy and daddy tells them

- no shouting in the house

- everyone stays in their chairs until supper's finished.

- if you want something you ask mummy in a nice voice with a smile, not crying or whining

- when we're out you have to walk by mummy, no running off or fighting (except in the park)

- anyone who behaves badly at a playdate, including not putting shoes on and coming home straight away when told, misses the next play date or party (this is really for the 7 yr old).

Any helpful views on what else to do? I'm not sure about punishments really - at the moment I make them do time out standing in the corner, but I'm not sure how effective it is. I'm thinking of star charts with prizes, but I'm also not sure why I have to bribe them to be pleasant company.

plimple Mon 14-Sep-09 14:49:52

Perfectly reasonable rules, but for the last. You don't really want him not to go do you - think of time with just your 2 others? Plus you'll have to remember for next time.
Make the reward/punishment more instant e.g. In 5 mins it'll be time to go, I need to leave early so I have time to make a special pudding/whatever. Once 5 mins is up give a challenge of 10 secs to get shoes and coat on - it's a race against time game. Why would he choose to fail, when it's fun to try? If he doesn't try then it's simple after 10 secs you put his shoes on for him like he was a much younger child with lots of cooing if he's really cross and explain now you won't have time to do the special pudding/whatever. Ah well, no big deal.
If they shout in the house tell them not to and if they want to shout then they can go in the garden.
If they get down from their chairs without asking and before they've finished it must be because they're tired so tell them not to worry, as soon as you've finished your supper you'll put them straight to bed.
When out you walk by Mummy, if they can't manage that you'll have to hold their hand until they can be trusted again.
I find punishments that fit the crime and are immediate and said with a smile as if they've chosen the outcome are much better. Once they know you mean business and aren't upset by awkwardness they'll soon benefit from a very happy Mummy who naturally rewards them with kisses, smiles, chats, responsibilities etc

Romanarama Mon 14-Sep-09 14:55:16

Thank you - what a helpful post. I do feel a bit overwhelmed atm, and am hoping to morph into smiley mummy at some point!

(Going to work is soooo much easier than this sahm thing)

mathanxiety Mon 14-Sep-09 17:31:32

I really recommend giving an advance description of what behaviour will be expected in any given situation, a little like a pep talk. Also, a warning before it's time to leave the playdate at 5 minutes, then 2 minutes, then get your jacket on and tell them it's now time. Boys sometimes like to see themselves as part of a team; emphasising this aspect of family life can appeal to them. I recommend chores that they are capable of doing at dinner time, like setting the table, fetching things from the fridge for you, and helping clear everything away. Perhaps cut out desserts until behaviour is reasonable? Perhaps as a bribe reward for good shopping behaviour they could choose a dinner occasionally, maybe once a week if they're good all week. Using a chart for the older ones showing good deeds is a visual reminder of how they are doing, helps them feel they're getting somewhere. This is quite an adjustment for your family and you're doing it without your DH too, so better to get them doing some of the work, and feeling like they're on your side than the situation developing into a stand-off.

BEAUTlFUL Mon 14-Sep-09 17:46:26

MY DS1's new teacher has completely tamed him. Her advice to me was "Notice and praise all the good things you can find, and (unless it's dangerous), ignore most of the bad."

You could also use their inane competitiveness and start a "Mummy's Best-Behaved Boy" sticker chart, with sections for breakfast, walking to school, teatime, bath and bedtimes. The best-behaved boy (BBB) at each time gets a sticker, and at end of week, boy with most stickers gets a prize. (For example, 30 minutes doing what he loves doing best.)

BEAUTlFUL Mon 14-Sep-09 17:47:40

lol at self, not "inane competitiveness"... innate competitiveness!

Romanarama Mon 14-Sep-09 20:37:52

Thank you - you are all very constructive. I think I want to get them working together, so perhaps I will go for a reward chart where they get a collective prize for a collective total, encouraging them to support each other in behaving nicely.

whyme2 Mon 14-Sep-09 22:03:52

Fantastic ideas Plimple, thanks. I will be using them with my 4dc. smile

SixtyFootDoll Mon 14-Sep-09 22:05:45

They dont soind that bad to me, in faact sound a lot like my DS's blush

Romanarama Tue 15-Sep-09 08:09:52

They're not so bad sixtyfoot - not completely out of control, but it's been bad enough that it's hard to have a nice time as a family at a weekend, and things like stopping out for lunch somewhere make me quite anxious and grumpy because they're difficult.

But I'm finding that by spending more time with them, being nice to them, and being completely inflexible about them having to do as they're told, things are already improving.

If I can get ds2 to stop his incessant whining and complaining, and to be more positive about life, I shall be very proud smile

WoTmania Tue 15-Sep-09 09:40:14

Roman - do you think they could just be acting up because they are suddenly getting moretime with you?
They might settle down with a bit of time [hopeful].

Romanarama Tue 15-Sep-09 11:34:41

There could be lots of reasons, WoT. Apart from anything we've just moved countries, they've moved school, they have new bedrooms, new furniture, aren't sure who their friends are, (and nor am I, and nor have I quite got used to the idea of not being a successful professional, which makes me a bit edgy). So they have a point, but I would like to be consistent and clear from the beginning.

WoTmania Tue 15-Sep-09 12:49:39

well, upheaval can certainly bring out the worst in anyone. I agree.

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