I’ve been a bit MIA (missing in action) but hey I am a mom of two little ones and they keep me busy. I think about writing but when I find the time…I am so tired and decide to just veg out instead. Summer has started in my household and I have both my son & daughter with me all day.
Usually my son is in Preschool and I just have my daughter in the mornings. My daughter is going through her tantrum & testing her limits phase…so it has been quite the challenge. She is very strong-willed and does not give up.
After a handful of public incidents of my daughter yelling & screaming I decided to re-visit my disciplining methods to see what I can change or modify because it can be both physically & mentally exhausting.
Awhile back (three book renewals later, to be exact) I went to the library and checked out a few books on parenting to see what “methods” are being taught and if I am in line with what some professionals are recommending.
The following are highlights of my “take-aways” from one of the books I read:
YOU set the agenda NOT your children.
The power drive in some children is more than others and typically moms are the primary target when it comes to children testing their boundaries. We just need to remember that this is all part of the process of them growing and as parents we need to have our ammo ready. I am guilty of catering to my children which is fine in some cases, but letting them make bad choices actually derails their capacity for self-control, respect, and cooperation. And when I say “choices” it can be something as simple as wanting to wear their rain boots & rain coat on a hot summer day. In the book, Beyond Time-Out by Beth A. Grosshans, Ph.D., she discusses the concept of Imbalance of Family Power (IFP) and that once you start accommodating your kids (even on occasion) and take the path-of-least resistance is that it can lead to IFP. It is so true when she says “no one gives up the throne without a fight” because the more we enable bad behavior the higher their power expectations become.
Action-based lessons vs. talking-based lessons
As cliche as it sounds…you have to walk the walk not talk the talk. Again I am guilty of saying something that I will not follow through with. For example, “If you don’t do this, then we are not going to the toy store.” There is a fine line…because you don’t want to boss your child around, but do it in a way where they know that ultimately the parents make the decisions. Not to say that children should not make any decisions but rather what is developmentally appropriate. As harsh as it sounds parental passivity is a form of neglect and not a good strategy (guilty at times). So if you threaten to leave the store if they misbehave one more time…then be sure to follow through and leave if they do so that they understand that mom is not messing around.
Don’t waste time
If you notice that there is an imbalance of family power (IFP) then act now…the longer you wait the longer it will take to correct their behavior. With the right tools you can nip it in the butt early.
Applying “The Ladder” Method
This five step action plan will help to re-establish the balance of power or prevent it from happening. This method goes beyond the traditional time-out. It really just tightens up the discipline process and provides a strategy as opposed to a “punishment.” When I say “discipline” I am referring to teaching, directing, and correcting. If you use the Ladder method as a form of punishment then it will just backfire and reinforce the bad feelings between you & your child. This is supposed to be a controlled and respectful form of discipline.
You want to make your child feel confident in your authority and not feel shamed, threatened or criticized.
Step 1: A friendly bid for cooperation
In a friendly tone, refer to your child with a pet name & give a directive:
“Okay sweetie, time for you to turn off the iPad”
Wait a reasonable amount of time to see if your child complies, if he fails to comply climb to step 2.
Step 2: An “I mean business” reminder
Shift from a friendly, light tone to a more businesslike voice; drop the pet name, and refer to your child by his name:
“XX, I just said it is time to turn the iPad off now. This is your second reminder, If I need to say it a third time you will be heading to your room.”
Maybe you can point your finger at them to show that your mean business. If they do not comply, climb to step 3.
Step 3: To the bedroom!
Begin with actions, not words. Move towards your child before you start to speak. Then, as you are walking towards your child, say:
“Okay hun, that’s it, time to go to your room.”
Do not engage in any conversation or respond to your child’s protests or begging. There is only one exception to this: If your child says, “But I was just going to, please, please, I was about to, it’s not fair -.” you may respond in a positive & assertive tone:
“Good honey, you were just about to! Next time I am confident you won’t wait as long, because you will remember that I only ask twice. Now it’s time to go to your room.”
Then without another word, and with speed and deliberateness, get your child to his room, either following behind if he goes on his own, or carry him. If you child becomes physically out of control while trying to resist being taken to his room, move on to Step 5: the parent hold.
Step 3, Part II: Set the Terms
Place your child on his bed and then say with a firm but nonthreatening tone:
Now, you need to stay in your room until I tell you it is time to come out.”
Having said that, say no more. Turn and walk out of your child’s room, leaving the bedroom door open. Stay close to the door but out of your child’s view.
Step 4: Shut the door
One of 3 things will happen next, Respond accordingly.
If your child stays in their room and behaves appropriately, stick your head into her room after a few minutes (add two minutes to the age of your child to give you an idea of approximately how many minutes to wait) and say:
“Okay honey, you may come out of your room now.”
If your child says, “I am not coming out!” in an attempt to still have the upper hand, then simply say: “Okay, that’s fine, but as far as I am concerned you can come out of your room.”
Then walk away.
Your child remains in the room but acts out verbally. They are yelling and screaming to the point it cannot be tolerated. After a minute, stick your head into the room (do not go all the way into the room) and in a loud whisper, say, with a very supportive tone (as if you are giving the best tip of the day):
“Hey sweetie, shh, shh. Remember, the work of time-out is done quietly. With all this carrying on, your time-out hasn’t even started yet. As a way to help you remember the need for quiet, and because I don’t want all this noise to fill the house, I am going to close your door.
Then close the door but do not walk away, stay close to the door.
The child runs out of his room. Your child shows no regard for your direction to stay in her room and attempts to run out of the door (this is why you stayed close by). Putting your hands out to catch and stop your child as she tries to flee, say:
“Hey, hey, hey! Where are you going sweetie? I just said you have to stay in your room.”
Turn your child around and direct her back to bed, or pick her up if it is necessary. Once your child is sitting back on the bed, say:
“Now I mean business, XX. You need to stay put until I tell you your time in your room is over, as a way to help you remember, I am going to close your door.”
Saying no more, turn to leave the room. Again, remain outsidethe door in case your child still needs you.
Step 5: The Parent Hold
Standing outside your child’s closed door, speak to your child through the door, in a calm, grounded tone:
“Honey, you are starting to get out of control, I want you to go over to your bed now and sit there so you can calm down”
If your child can’t calm down and becomes emotionally or physically out of control, open the door, go to your child, and follow the procedure for parent hold: hold your child firmly until they are back under control (be careful you are not holding them too tight, but firm enough to keep them in control). It can last an average of 20 minutes until the child completely calms down and once they are calm you can reassure the child by saying:
“it’s okay sweetie, you are just a little girl and you’re still learning. All children need to learn. Don’t worry, Mommy and Daddy are going to help you. It’s okay, you are fine, and we are fine. I love you very much.”
After you sat together and some time has passed and emotions have passed:
“Okay sweetie, let’s go put some cool water on your face and take a sip of water.”
Take your child’s hand in yours and go together in the bathroom, while in the bathroom say in a light tone:
“My goodness, you were really angry huh? That was a lot of feeling that came out. I don’t that lesson will ever be so hard for you again.”
Move into your next phase of activity by once again reaching out your hand to your child saying:
“Now where were we?”
Do not offer and further verbal reassurances, explanations, apologies, or corrections. This is the end of step 5!
This method is by no means my own…I have taken every step out of the book I read (referenced above) and found it very useful. It was pretty much in line with what I was previously doing, but not as well-thought out and planned. I tend to lose my temper or get very frustrated, but with this method it helps me to keep my emotions at bay and just go through the motions.
It is getting late so this blog will be to be continued! God willing, Part II of this blog will include how to use “The Ladder” method when you are out & about because tantrums and bad behavior do not just happen at home.
Peace & God bless.