A few weeks ago we had the privilege of partnering with Infinite Resources Inc. to discuss an issue almost every parent in the world deals with, disobedience. Otherwise known as having kids! It was called “dealing with disobedience” and it is part of the Triple P Discussion Group series. I was beyond excited about this event for a few reasons: My son is just about to turn 3- hello ‘threenager’ attitude, I know that Triple P is a world renowned evidence based parenting program, and it was being facilitated by the fabulously supportive community member and mom, Sheila Chisholm.
I can’t share everything that I learned in the 2.5 hour group, because we would be here for days (there really is that much great stuff). But I would like to share my major “Ah-Ha!” moments with you in the hopes that it will give you some strategies or starting points in your own parenting journey.
Ah-Ha #1: A lot of the problem with my child’s behaviour is me!
This became evident really early on in the discussion. I came into this thinking that my kid is just being “bad” or testing me, and sometimes he probably is. But what I forgot about is the huge role I play in his behaviours. Think about how you give your child instructions. Do you give too many or too few instructions at once? When do you ask your child do do something? Are they in the middle of a game, hungry, or tired? Have you given your child enough time to process what you have asked of them?
Ah-Ha #2: Asking instead of telling!
If someone asked you, “can you wake up early and go to work all day”? You might view this as thinking you have a choice, and likely you would say no! So think of how absurd it must sound to our children when we ask them if they can do something for us rather than telling them what needs to be done. “Can you get your shoes on, honey?” vs “You need to put your shoes on, honey”. Eliminate the choice in situations when there really isn’t one.
Ah-Ha #3: We need to teach time out!
I explained to Sheila that my son typically freaks out and has a 5 alarm tantrum whenever I put him in time out. It’s almost not worth ruining the evening, so sometimes I avoid it. Sheila simply asked me if I had ever taught my child what a time out actually is…..ummm, no. Time out can be a really scary thing, particularly for younger kids. They have no idea how long it might last, they are being physically separated from their social group, and it is usually used as a last resort when parents have had enough. The suggestion, which now makes total sense to me, was to practice and teach children how time out works. When all is calm and you are not in the middle of WW3 go to the corner/room/stairs/wherever the dreaded spot is and show your child what it looks like to be in time out. Let them see that they will be safe and that it will end, but that it is a consequence for disobedient behaviour, should you as a parent choose to use it. Another helpful suggestion is to use a timer that can be heard throughout the house so that everyone knows when timeout starts and ends.
Ah-Ha #4: What behaviour are you rewarding!?
One of the most basic emotional human needs is attention from others. Think about when you are most readily giving yours to your child…. I realized that quite often when my son is playing with his toys quietly I don’t say a word because I don’t want to wreck these few minutes of bliss and I probably need to get 5 different things done, or I just want to check Facebook. What Sheila reminded me is that I have just ignored the good behaviour completely. I will likely pay much more attention (though negative) to him when he is jumping on the couch and chasing the dogs. Guess what I am telling him will get my undivided attention? Le sigh!
Ah-Ha #5: Think about house rules!
Somewhere in this exhausting game of parenting I forgot that I could run my house, in some respects, like I would a classroom (yes, I was a teacher for a very brief stint). Pull out the markers and get some poster board and start making some rules. Sheila suggested that there be no more than 5 basic house rules and they must be worded without negative language. Think “in this house we say please and thank you” rather than “no being rude”. Then have family meetings to talk about things that are going well or things that could be improved (when you are all happy as clams). This, according to some, can be started as early as age 2. I might need to get on this one!
While none of these ah-ha moments are earth shattering they are all, in my opinion, important to preventing and managing disobedient behaviours in our children. Parenting is a life long journey and I’m realizing that my journey could be a lot smoother if I start using some of these strategies early on in the game!
If you are interested in learning more about Infinite Resources Inc please visit their website at www.infiniteresources.ca. They offer presentations and training for groups who work with children, social groups for children of all ages as well as camps over the holidays. You can find them on Facebook here.
“At infinite Resources our mission is to create supportive environments for individuals who require behavioral, educational and social understanding. To support and guide with straight-forward, effective and balanced strategies. To work as a team with family.”
For more information about Triple P please visit alberta.triplep-staypositive.net
Click here for more information about Plugged In Community Centre Organization This is a non profit organization that has a mission to to provide a facility that promotes INclusive and supportive programming for members of the St. Albert community, regardless of age, ability or any other potentially segregating factors. Follow them on Facebook here.