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“Just do what I say!”

following instructions Nov 10, 2020

“No one else’s child behaves as badly as mine”

 Have you ever felt that?

You imagine other households and think that their children sit at the table and eat their food without a fuss.

- They don’t run in the opposite direction when it is time to wash their hands.

- They don’t refuse to get dressed in the morning.

I have certainly felt this way on many occasions throughout my years as a parent.

Comparing myself or my kids unfavourably to others has always been a sure-fired way to undermine myself. We all do it but I recommend you steer yourself away from it as it is just so unhelpful.

So I wanted to talk about some tools that have really helped me along the way.

I created rules and routines for the ‘hot spots’

The hot spots are typically getting dressed, leaving the house, mealtimes, tidying up, screen time, bath time and bedtime.

Today’s blog is all about how to have rules and routines that help.

When I first got support with my parenting, my eldest child Nico was 2.  We suddenly realised he was ruling the roost and it wasn’t good for him (or us).

Amongst the many things we changed at home, we decided to clarify what our rules were and then we got Nico on board to make sure he knew what they were too.

Far from becoming an overly strict and rigid household (which was what we feared), things became so much easier at home.

We stopped having battles over things and we started enjoying him more.

Here’s what I recommend – start with one hot spot and work up from there.

Let’s take getting dressed as an example which was a real source of stress for us. It may not be your hot spot in which case pick yours and use the principles.

Nico would get up, watch tv in our bedroom,  play and then eat breakfast at which point he would point blank refuse to get dressed. So we decided to change the routine around and be much more consistent about it.  It was hard at first as he made a fuss about it but over the space of about a week, with us sticking to the rules things got dramatically better. We followed the system below. Try it, I think you’ll like it.

  • The night before, give your child a 2 or 3 outfits to choose from (this is good for giving them a sense of power in a world where they usually feel quite powerless)
  • Once they’ve picked the outfit, lay it out on the floor in the shape of a body (little children like this and it makes it clear for them too)
  • Make a little chart that has photos of your child or really simply drawn pictures of EACH stage of the process and then you can use the chart to tick things off or put a star by each one.
  • In the morning, I recommend you have your child get dressed BEFORE anything else happens. No ipad, tv, breakfast or interesting games. If their bedroom is too distracting then have them get dressed in the bathroom. This may involve some changes in your routine, like getting dressed yourself first but it is worth it.
  • Put some music on, lighten the mood. Put a smile on your face (even a forced one) and start encouraging them with praise for each tiny step in the right direction.
  • Use your chart to tick off each item of clothing they put on.
  • Have things like ‘putting pyjamas under the pillow’ as an item to tick as well.
  • Once they are dressed you can move on to the next thing – usually breakfast and have another check list that goes with that.

The whole principle is about catching the good, being prepared and managing your child’s expectations.

Try it for the other hot spots but remember – only tackle one at a time.

Good luck!

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