THE WORD ‘NO!’: Say it a different way
This is the most misunderstood Creative Discipline tip of them all! By changing the word ‘No’ it is definitely not saying ‘Yes!’ It is still about holding boundaries for suitable social behaviours and lifestyle choices; food, TV watching etc (my children have had plenty of boundaries for these!). However, this is one of the most powerful tools to avoid tantrums and create a happy and positive parent and child relationship.
Children are natural explorers and they are new to the world and want to experience things. Not necessarily ‘healthy’ things or ‘convenient’ for the parent. It is possible for parents to say ‘No!’ without saying the word ‘No’, by using the techniques of deferred gratification, offering an alternative choice or redirection to a new situation.
Here are some creative answers to common scenarios:
Child: Can I have a biscuit? (It is breakfast time and it is not healthy for this food right now)
Parent: “Yes darling – you can have a biscuit after breakfast for morning tea. Let us rest it here on the plate so that we remember, and get teddy to watch over it!” Suggest a new suitable time (deferred gratification), a toy watching over something is always fun!
Child: I want stop and look at everything on a walk to the shops (You are in a hurry for an appointment)
Parent: “Another day, let us race now to the lights, ready steady go, let’s run”. Re-direct by racing and moving like cheetahs and not like snails, this can hurry children along without them realising it!
Child: I want……….in the shopping centre toyshop
Parent: What a great idea, let’s put it on your Christmas list, let me write it down now.
Always carry a pen and pad for this, children have usually forgotten by Christmas time, or have asked for another five things!
Child: It can be difficult for a child to finish playing in the park
Parent: Always give time warnings, 10 more minutes, five more minutes and then…one last turn. This is easily for the child than suddenly announcing ‘Let’s go!” and can be quicker too!
Sometimes tantrums still occur, but with these Creative Discipline tools they are less frequent and severe. Move on quietly with the child, ignoring the tantrum. You can hold the power to give your children solid boundaries, guiding their lives, without a battle of wills.
Games and tickles
To feel relaxed in stressful moments, from time to time, just try a tickle. Most children cannot resist having a giggle. So when children stamp their feet and say ‘No’, say ‘I am going to tickle you’. Lightheartedness can be a very successful tool.
The power of praise
Isolate one or two positive behaviours that you would like your child to achieve. Every time you see the appropriate behaviour verbally praise it “Great sharing, everyone is happy!” At bedtime, as you are having a cuddle, say “I was really pleased with the way you played with Sally today”.
Children love to have roles to take on, items to carry, and things to look after. A kindergarten assistant once told me this story:
It is a hardware shop at the weekend, in one aisle there are two boys of similar ages with their dads. Both are out shopping, one boy is miserable and one boy is happy. The difference is that one boy is included. The outing has been made special by involving the young boy as much as possible. He is pushing a little barrow, chatting to his dad and following directions to find special items. The other boy is tagging along behind as his dad is growling “hurry up!”
The message here is to involve your child: a little creativity goes along way. You will be rewarded with a happier child.
The best role-model is you!
A young child imitates all the people around them. Remember that the way parents behave with their children (and to others around them) will directly influence their own children’s behaviour. It is paradoxical to see a parent shout “No shouting!”, or hit as a response to a child’s rough behaviour. It is extremely difficult (and I know) but if you talk reasonably, teach positively, and lovingly guide, these tendencies will become life communication skills for your children too. It is a wonderful experience, after years of role-modelling, to see your children treat each other with respect and hear your positive manner within them. Children, brought up with creative discipline techniques will know how to communicate and treat others in life. This is a powerful insight.
Remember that no child or parent is perfect, and neither should they be as it is our mistakes that help us to learn and grow. Parenting can be like a dance: two steps forward and one step back. Try to be conscious of how things worked out during and after each incident with your child. How your heart really feels in each moment. Understand where you could have parented more positively and make plans to act differently tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…
Turning Tears into Laughter: Creative Discipline for the Toddler and Preschool Years has a chapter on ‘The Best Role Model is You, sharing ideas, tips and real life stories on how to be the best role-model possible for your child. The book can be purchased from this site, click Books and all good book stores and libraries.