How do I deal with naughty behaviour?
He’s started answering back, in a special ‘cheeky’ tone. A typical conversation can go like this:
“It’s time to clean your teeth now”
“Noooo it isn’t”
“Yes, it is”
“Noooo it isn’t”
“It is, and we’re not discussing it any more”
“Yes we aaaare discussing it”
At which point I pick him up and carry him to the bathroom. He’s quite happy to have his teeth cleaned (at least, no more unhappy than he’s always been) but for some reason he’s deliberately contrary. It feels like it’s almost constant.
This afternoon we went into the village. I had the baby in the buggy so that D would have to walk – he’d had a two hour nap and I wanted to tire him out for bedtime. We stopped to look at the diggers on the way and he was lovely, very sensible by the road and we talked lots. We went to the library and he was great – a bit loud and over-excited, but we chose three books and left, no problems. I don’t think he’s lacking in attention – we were talking and doing things together all the way.
On the way home we called into the Co-op. It’s a small shop – we walked round, I picked up some beer, went to the till. As I was trying to pay, he ran off. I could see that he was running round the aisles and not towards the door, so I ignored him while I paid, thinking he might stop and come back if I didn’t engage with it. He didn’t, so I caught up with him, held him by the arm and told him firmly that he mustn’t run away, that it was naughty, and he must stand next to me.
Of course, as soon as my back was turned, he ran off again. I don’t know what to do for the best, as when I start to chase him he starts laughing and runs even faster – he thinks it’s all a game. I say “it’s not funny” and he replies “yes, it is funny”, laughing as he does it.
It’s so frustrating. I talk firmly and clearly to him, make it unequivocally clear that I’m angry and that he mustn’t run off, yet he seemingly just doesn’t listen. It doesn’t seem to go in at all.
I hate it because I felt like such a fool, running at full speed after a toddler, leaving my shopping, handbag and, um, BABY, stranded behind me. And I get so angry, but it doesn’t have any effect.
I’ve talked to him calmly about it at home. It still doesn’t seem to sink in – I can say “running away is naughty” and he’ll come straight back with “no it isn’t”. I explain to him what behaviour is expected, ask him if he understands and I get a blank look and a “huh?”.
So… I’ve ordered a couple of wrist straps. Next time we go out and he’s walking, I’m going to explain before we leave the house that if he runs off, he’ll have to be strapped to me. Before we go into a shop, or anywhere else that it might be an issue, I’ll remind him again. If he runs once, he’ll get a warning, and the next time that’ll be it, strap straight on.
Does that sound ok? A reasonable instruction and consequence? I think I’m thrown by this because it’s started up so suddenly – he’s gone from being always so pleasant to cheekiness and deliberate disobedience in the last couple of weeks.
Ironically, I started a parenting course today at my local SureStart. It’s called Family Nurturing. I’ve actually done it before, when I was a pregnant mother of one. It’s a brilliant course and a lot of the things I learned have shaped my parenting. When I got the new activity sheet last week and saw it was running again, I decided to re-do it because
a) the child had just started this naughty phase
b) I think that going though the ideas and techniques step by step and implementing a new bit each week will have a positive effect on the whole family
c) I’ve been so desperate for a bit of ‘me time’ that I’d vowed to sign up for whatever course was running; the value of two hours per week without the children should not be underestimated.
Today we covered the basic ideas that underpin the course, and talked about the value of praise. Our homework is to praise our kids (and husband). Hopefully I’ll get a chance to write more about it this week, but if not then I’ll do a full write-up after next week’s session.