My Parenting Pet Peeve: "If You Do That One More Time..."
I'm a people watcher. I always have been, and I absolutely love it. You can learn so much about people by just sitting back and watching them, how they interact, their mannerisms, etc.
In a non-stalker way, thank you. I have no restraining orders... yet.
I took the kids to the pool last night, and while they enjoyed the pool fun, I sat on the sidelines with a book and relaxed. I quickly found that the book was a decoy for the people watching that was about to go down. There was only one family at the pool with us, but between trying to figure out the dynamics of the family and just simply watching their curious ways, an hour had quickly gone by, and I had enough ammo data for today's post. This family preyed on the biggest pet peeve I have of parenting -- the biggest.
The dynamics (I think), were an older mother with her daughter, who had just had a baby maybe about 3 months ago. The little 3 month old was there, and then a 2 year old boy, who, to be entirely honest, I'm not quite sure whose kid he was -- the grandmother or the mother (as he kept calling the younger woman "Sissy"). This little boy was about 2, and like most 2-year-old kids, an absolute hellion... but to the extreme, which in my opinion, was directly due to the parenting I was watching.
The 2-year-old was in the pool with a life jacket on (surprising, based on what else I saw), and had one of those squirty water toys that you fill with water, push the plunger down and water shoots out. He was shooting his sister/mom (like I said, not sure what the hell was going on; the younger woman) with the water shooter, and also shooting it into the empty parts of the pool... also known as... being a 2-year-old.
That's when it started -- my biggest parenting pet peeve ever.
The little boy shot the water in the direction of the older woman, who was holding the 3-month-old.
"Billy Bob, (not his name, but we're going with it for the post) you better stop doing that or we are getting out of this pool and you are going to your room!"
The little hellion laughs and does it again.
"Billy Bob, I told you to cut that out. If you do it again, you're going to your room."
The little boy thinks about it for a second, swims to a different spot, fills up his shooter toy, and does it again.
"Billy Bob, STOP IT! If you do that one more time, you're going to your room."
Hold up, didn't they just tell him that? Didn't they tell him if he did it one more time he was going to his room, so he swam a little further away from them and did it again? Shouldn't he be going to his room right now?
The younger woman swam over to Billy Bob and said, "Billy Bob, that's it. Give me the toy" and she motioned to take the toy from the child. He yelled out "NO!" and she backed off. "Fine, Billy Bob, but if you shoot the water at the baby one more time, you are going to your room."
What in the hell was going on here? I still wasn't sure if the younger woman was the sister or the mom, but either way, she was, or should have been, in control of that child (it takes a village, right?). And yet she goes over to the little boy, does a half-assed attempt at reprimanding, backs away at the first sign of him resisting, then gives him another chance when he should have been taken to his room a few chances ago.
Oh hell no. Not in my house. If that was my kid, he would have gotten one of the "Hey, Ginger, that's not nice to shoot the baby with water, it hurts her. If you do it again, you are getting out of the pool for a time out, and if you continue to misbehave, we'll go back to the apartment and you'll go to your room. Got it?" and I would have waited for a reply, to make sure he understood. Then, if he did it again, his ass would have been ripped out of the pool and put into time out right then, right there. If he threw a temper tantrum, we would have packed up and gone home.
Why on earth do some parents allow their children to dictate what's happening, what's going to happen, and how things are going to be? They are the parent, and the little munchkin that's 1/3 your size is the child.
It's not a hard concept -- parents have the control, children do not. You keep the control. It's that simple.
I know some of you reading now may not think it's that simple. Seriously, it is. Yes, I have seen hellion kids. Yes, I have read a million different ways to raise hellion kids. What every single method boils down to is the parent taking control of the situation, remaining in control even when the child screams, yells, kicks, hits, etc, and never giving in.
Take my example above of how I would have handled the situation. Notice the differences between my style of parenting and the sister/mom. When my kids were younger, I started with showing them that I was in control, and who was boss. My technique was developed from watching nanny shows, reading parenting books, and good ol' trial and error. It is pretty damn simple:
- Explain to the child the behavior that was wrong. Get down to their level, face to face, and calmly explain to them what they did wrong. Make them repeat it back to you, if you need to, to make sure they were listening and understanding. And please understand that you are explaining to your child that the behavior was wrong, and not the child. Put emphasis on "shooting the water at the baby was wrong" not "you are bad for shooting the water at the baby." It's the smallest little difference, but it shows your kid that you still love them, just not their behavior at the moment.
- Clearly explain the consequence if the behavior continues. Don't be unrealistic, either. No, "If you shoot the baby with water one more time, I'm grounding you for the rest of the summer." Match the consequence to the behavior appropriately, and remember to give a time frame. Shooting the baby with water one more time is a time frame. The kid knows if they do it just once, the consequence occurs. Make sure the kid understands the consequence. Make them repeat it back to you, if you have to.
- Follow through. This is probably the most important part. Follow through, immediately. No ifs, ands, or buts from you, and follow through exactly when you told the child you would. If you said "one more time" and they do it again, then that's their "one more time."
It's 3 little steps, not hard to follow, but yes, much harder to implement, I will say that. You'll get the hang of it after a while, and I promise you it works. I started this with my kids when they were around 2, and still do it to this day. Generally speaking, as soon as I give them the consequence and time frame, I don't have any problems with them performing the behavior anymore. If they do, the consequence occurs. I get a lot of, "But mom, we forgot." My reply: "Well, you were told what would happen, you understood, it happened again, so there you go."
Here's a few tips to keep in mind when applying this technique:
- Make the consequence fit you and your situation at the moment. If my kid had been shooting the baby with water and I didn't want to leave the pool yet, then don't make the immediate consequence that you are going to take him to his room. That inconveniences you, other kids or people at the pool with you, and makes it less likely that you will follow through with it, because it's a consequence you don't like. That's why I said above that he would go into time out, right there at the pool. If the behavior progresses, then yes, eventually you might be inconvenienced, but make it a last resort. It shows the kid that his bad behavior won't stop life from happening, just keep him from enjoying it.
- Continue with it despite naysayers. I had so many of my friends and family tell me I'm a bitch because I parent this way. If The Ginger, let's say, was calling his sister names while playing with his favorite toy, and I clearly explained to him what he was doing that was wrong, that if he continued he would get his favorite toy taken away for the rest of the day, and then took his favorite toy away from him when he called his sister a name again, I would get stares from around me, and "Man, that was a bitchy thing to do." Why? I explained to him what would happen, he did it, he got the consequence. How does that make me a bitch? Because I took his favorite toy away? He knew it would happen if he continued, I'm just following through, thank you.
- Don't cave. Don't give the kid back his favorite toy if he starts to cry. He understood the consequence. You can always renegotiate with the child later about doing something to earn his toy back, but it needs to be on your terms, not his. It shows him that you are boss.
- Employ it for positive behavior, too. Grocery stores are the worst. Kids want this and that, and especially if you have younger kids, a fight ensues somewhere. Before going into the grocery store, clearly explain to the kids that if they make it through the grocery store without begging and pleading for things (I'm realistic -- I tell the kids 3 times and they are out), then at the end they will get a reward (candy bar, favorite bag of chips, 30 minutes of video game time when they get home, etc).
I'm all about actions and consequences. Now that my kids are older, compared to other kids I've seen, mine are pretty damn well behaved. They can be a little hyper at times, but at least they aren't Zombie Children. They have learned that if mom says something is going to happen, it's going to happen. They know I don't throw out empty threats.
Meaning, I'm in control.
This little hellion last night ran around the pool numerous times, every time I heard, "Billy Bob, stop running around the pool." The Ginger ran around the pool once. That's it. I told him to stop running around the pool and what would happen if he ran around the pool, and he didn't do it again. Yes, The Ginger is 7 and Billy Bob was around 2, but it's because of the parenting that I did when The Ginger was 2, is how I have a child that listens at 7.
Billy Bob also peed on the fence. Yep. Pulled down his swim trunks and peed right there on the concrete and the fence. There was no conversation beforehand with his mom or sister about how he had to go to the bathroom, and they told him to go pee anywhere. He just chose to do it. In public. At a pool. And they never even noticed.
Stellar parenting there.
I wanted to snap on these women last night -- tell them to take charge of their kid and be an effing parent. Something tells me that it wouldn't have mattered. Many people like this don't want help. They don't care if their kids run wild or do whatever; as long as the kids don't bother them, it's fine. While Billy Bob was peeing on the fence, the older woman was rocking the baby to sleep, and the younger woman was relaxing in the hot tub. Neither of them cared what Billy Bob was doing, and didn't want to be bothered by it, either. They need to start thinking down the road, though. Do they want a teenager who pees on everything around him just because no one ever told him not to? I sure wouldn't.
Is this just my parenting pet peeve, or do others share it as well? Let me know what y'alls parenting pet peeves are below. Or, ask questions about my technique; I'm always happy to answer! And if you know of any moms that actually want help at controlling their hellions, then share my article with them. It's worth a try, right?
Unless you want a kid that pees on fences. One day they'll get an electric fence... Ouch!
~ Tatted Mom
The Inklings of Life
Photo Credit: titlap.