Aimee Horton

When it’s er…rewarding?

Apr
09

We had a rough few weeks about a month ago.  Both children were driving me mad.  They were naughty, highly strung, rude, generally being rather trying.  So I had enough, things were about to change.

We’ve had a reward chart for The Beast since he was about two and a half.  It was a magnet one, and always worked very well, however, as he began school it began to conflict with the chart in the classroom, and suddenly my threats of “if I get to three and you’ve not put your shoes on you won’t get a magnet” were falling on deaf ears.  No more scurrying into the hall as I did a haphazard attempt at remembering fractions in my low deep voice “ONEEEE….TWOOOOO…TWOOO AND A HALF….TWO AND THREE QUARTERS…..TWO AND SEVENTEEN EIGHTHS…” that sort of thing, instead a dismissive look at me, followed by a shrug.

We also bought The Chunky Monkey a chart from The Early Learning Centre.  It was crap.  I’m sorry but it was! Anything magnetic where the magnets provided don’t stick to it does not count as good, I am forever finding tiny rocket magnets and starts strewn across the room, and when I did my counting he was enthused, he LOVES numbers, so we quickly became aware that every time we counted to discipline he’d jump up and down, clap, and carry on counting for us.  There was no look of fear, no look of remorse, just sheer pleasure.

So we went for a change, and as it seemed to work in the classroom, we ripped off the chart from school.  Although, in true Aimee style, I had to make it slightly different, I didn’t want to make it so similar that it was competing with the one from school, so instead of star, sunshine and clouds, we went for for a space theme.

Rockets at the Ready

Rockets at the Ready

Can you get to the moon?

Can you get to the moon?

Basically the monkeys start at number one (the green planet), and if they are bad they go down to earth with a bang and a toy is confiscated.  If they’re good they can go up the chart, and if they’re outstanding they get on number 5 which is the moon, and there they have a choice, they can have a small reward (ice-cream for pudding, some stickers for a sticker book, something teeny tiny), or they can work towards something big that they really want (Iron-Man suit etc.).  We go through and discuss it every night before bed and reset it every day.

So, is it working?  I think so…

The Beast has fallen down to earth once (he refused to do his writing at school), he chose to surrender his Black Spider-Man suit, mumbling under his breath “doesn’t matter anyway, I still have my muscle one to play in”. Oh. That told me.  But as a whole he’s responded well, he’s earned a few cool treats, he’s enjoyed the satisfaction of climbing up chart and he’s also become far more aware of his actions.

The Chunky Monkey…he’s another kettle of fish.  Every day the conversation goes…

Me: Let’s do rockets!

Kids: YAYYYYY!

Me: Right…Larry…

L: WOT?

Me: Now, you’ve not eaten anything today, you’ve had a 45 minute tantrum because you didn’t want to get dressed, and a random stranger had to help me force you into your pushchair today…soooo…

L: WOT MUMMY? WOT NUMBER?

Me: So you’re going to go to 0 I’m afraid. <sad, disappointed face, helps The Chunky Monkey move peg to the bottom of the chart>

L: YAYYYYYY! I DID ZERRROOOOO I DID ZERROOOO DADDDYYY I DID ZEROOOOO!

oh.

Me: So, we’re going to be taking away the Barry books until you can behave batter (THANK GOD, I AM SICK OF READING BARRY THE BLOODY FISH WITH FINGERS)

L: Otayyy, bye bye Barry!

Oh.

However, I tell myself, it’s geting him used to it, as he grows older and understands more consequences he’ll start to realise that Zero isn’t good…won’t he?!  After all, I can’t keep shutting him in the hall and leaning on the door…he’s bigger then me!

 

When you don’t always take the most conventional path.

Aug
29

Discipline is a tricky subject.  We have our own views, and we all know what Super Nanny suggests, but sometimes it doesn’t work like that.

I know, especially with the boys the age that they are, it’s often about consistency and picking battles.  Everyone picks different battles, you have to do what’s right for you (get me being all diplomatic).

Anyway.

I’ve always tried to be consistent, but I admit sometimes it doesn’t always go as planned.  Sometimes it just doesn’t work out I can’t be arsed.  Sometimes you are distracted with other things, and sometimes you’re just so tired that your fuse is shorter.  By you I obviously mean me.

I rely quite heavily on the counting and putting in the hall methods.  Along with a reward chart and the odd bellowing shout.  Or to put it simply “I muddle along helplessly”.  I am however usually fairly consistent with my muddling, for example, The Beast is aware that I mean business if I begin to count.  He may think he can counteract this with shouting “DON’T COUNT…I SAID DON’T COUNT MUMMY”, but he can’t.   I try to reason with my children, I really really do, but sometimes, especially the fat one, they just don’t LISTEN.  Admittedly, I wouldn’t think me a very authorative figure at times, but that’s BESIDE THE POINT, I’m the mummy they should ALWAYS listen.  What? My stroppy teenage tantrum doesn’t help prove my point? Oh.

Anyway, I’m not proud to admit it, but sometimes, once I’ve worn out the coaxing, the threatening, the shouting, the counting and the foot stomping stomping, I have to use some slightly more unconventional methods.

I know you’ve heard about these before, some of them may include brute force.  Sometimes it’s the only way!  Up until I had Fatty, I totally took for granted the fact that The Beast is actually quite weak and pathetic.  Think Scrappy Doo if you will.

I took for granted that when The Beast was going through the terrible two’s, even heavily pregnant, I could continue to peruse a certain aisle in the supermarket by simply tucking him under one arm while he kicked and screamed.  I may have even made a point of wandering up and down it a few times showing him who was in control. (HORMONES).

I totally took for granted that when he refused to stand in the hall I would simply pick him up and “pop him down firmly”  in it again for as many hours minutes as it took – even post c-section it wasn’t an issue.  Just as I totally took for granted that for the first nearly 3 years of his life if I decided I’d had enough, shut the door and leant on it, he couldn’t open it.

Or that in one swift headbutt movement if he chose not to bend to go into the car seat, I could bend him for it.  I still can.

Finally, I took for granted that when he refused to get dressed/let me change his nappy etc I could pin him down with one hand and complete the task without much bother.

With the Fat One it’s not as simple.  With me being 5ft 1 with scrawny arms and him weighing in at around 17kg there are only so many times I can carry him back to the hall before my arms physically can no longer lift him.

With the Fat One tucking him under my one arm is dangerous, especially when he does an amazing “throwing himself back” thrust where he nearly topples me over and I have to concentrate on putting him on the floor carefully.

When it comes to getting him dressed is IMPOSSIBLE.  Seriously, I’ve had to resort to a 20 minute work out of chasing him around whatever room we are in, putting one item of clothing on at a time.  Changing a nappy when he’s not in the mood is just not a feasible option, so I have to resort to my final offer. Sitting on him. WHAT?! I’M 5ft1inch TALL! WHAT ELSE am I going to do?!

The Beast, as a whole, is a little easier to control, he’s not perfect, but you can usually bribe reason with him.  However, there are some days, when he’s right on the edge.  You all know what I mean right? Tired/Hungry/highly strung.  Slightly squeaky, answering back…him not me!  When magnets don’t work, when threats don’t work, when there’s nowhere to lock place him to cool down.  Sometimes you just have to show him who’s boss.  So how do I do that?  Why, I threaten him of course. NO, I’m not talking about anything  that drastic, although I do appreciate the whole sitting on Fatty confession may not show me in the best light.

The phrase “Theodore if you don’t put your shoes on and get ready to leave soft play now I am going to take you into the toilets and turn the hand dryer on”  may have been used a few times.

There. I said it.  My eldest son is TERRIFIED of hand dryers.  Won’t go near them, tells strangers not to turn them on, therefore, it is now my weapon.

After all, I’m here to teach my children right? Lesson number one Don’t show weakness.

I’m not the only one though am I?  I’m not the only one to resort to the unconventional (“I’m not looking at you Theodore…not until you put your shoes on” “LOOOOK ATTT MEEEE LOOOOOK AT MEEE”), the weak (“You won’t be able to go to Big School if you don’t eat your dinner” – like I’m going to pass up the chance to free childcare five days a week), or the cruel (rustling a packet of crisps to ensure fat one folds into pushchair without turning into a plank, before handing them a tupperware pot containing grapes…although the joke is on me as I usually then have to de-slime the pushchair).

Please tell me I’m not the only one?!

 

 

When they turn into three-nagers.

Jan
14

I officially appear to have a three going on thirteen year old in my life.  As Fatso is moves into the terrible two’s FAR too many months before his second birthday (OCTOBER LAWRENCE OCTOBER!), the Beast has started developing an attitude that one can only describe as a teenager.

Whilst Fatso might be unreasonable in the collapsing on the floor screaming following you around, arching his back, flinging himself out of your arms kind of way, the Beast is slowly moving away from that, and if I’m honest, I’m not sure I like this stage any better.  Don’t get me wrong, he still flings himself on the floor, or kicks the door when he’s sent into the hall, but now he’s started answering back.  He’s also so dramatic with it, I fluctuate daily between being REALLY REALLY angry (my friend commented that my counting to three never used to be through gritted teeth with an underlying growl), and having to try really hard not to laugh mid telling off.

He doesn’t just cry or look upset when I say something, nor, and I suppose this is more important, does he listen and take heed.  He frowns, juts out his jaw and in a tone of voice that is worse then nails down a chalkboard, he retorts.  Below are a few examples which have happened over the last few days.

Me (whilst on a play date at somebody’s house): “THEODOREEE, I’m going to count to three, and if you don’t come down those stairs I will take your magnet away…ONEE….”

The Beast: “DON’T START COUNTING….”

Me: “Twooo…”

The Beast: “I SAID MUMMY…DON’T COUNT, I DON’T WANT YOU TO COUNT”.

Or perhaps, I’m at my friends, and I’ve just told him if he doesn’t put his coat on he’ll not only lose a magnet he’ll go in the hall (I KNOW, I KNOW a double punishment seems harsh for what appears to be a relatively small battle, but this happens every time we leave their house).  I’ve crouched down, I’m holding onto his arm so I can position him to look at me while I attempt to reason with him.

The Beast: “get off me, I SAID GET OFF ME MUMMY, LET GO OF MY ARM”

He went in the hall.

It’s lunch time, he’s not eating his dinner.

ME: “Theodore, eat your dinner please”

The Beast: “NO – you eat YOUR dinner first Mummy”

Then I stupidly enter into the conversation “I am eating my dinner, see, it’s nearly all gone”

The Beast: “Shuush Mummy, you’re disappointing me, I don’t want to look at you any more” before averting his eyes and looking across the room.

What’s the most frustrating thing with this current phase is that I’m starting to hear myself in him.  I have told him frequently (because I know it has more impact then ever being sent in the hall), that I don’t want to look at him until he calms down.  I MAY have also told him he was disappointing me.  I’m getting the impression that this stage is sent to remind us that our parenting techniques can be repeated, and therefore scrutinized in public.  For example, nursery is totally aware that he’s sent to the hall for three minutes, because he’s sent other children toys to the hall at Pre-School.  That was embarrassing.  Especially as he says the telling off bit in a FAR more fierce voice then I do. “You woz sent to da ‘all, coz you woz BAD, STAY THERE FOR 3 MINUTES, OKAY?” before SLAMMING the door.  Now, I don’t slam the door, not since the time I trapped his fingers in it.

So what do I do as my children mock me with my own words?  Do I learn from it?  Do I heck.  I find another phrase or technique to use that he will eventually be thrown back in my face.  Like, when he refuses to get in the car, driving off and leaving him on the side of the road (with my friend next to him).  That’s only been relayed to the grandparent’s so far I think.

Oh – and before you ask.  How do I discipline the fat one at the moment?  Well, I often find just putting him down and walking away from him works.  This usually results with him (if he’s crawling), stopping and putting his head on the floor and sobbing.  Alternatively, if I put him down on his bottom he tends to bend his fat head and shoulders forward and sob like an old man.  That’s like a stab in the heart if ever there was one.  God knows what I’ll do when I get to the putting him in the hall stage.  He’s stronger then me, he’ll have the door off its hinges in no time.