If motherhood is driving you to the brink of insanity, you are in luck! I’ll be speaking at the Easton Public Library at 7 pm on Monday, May 4th.
Come and join me. You’ll laugh. You might even cry. (I know I will 😉 )
After the post I wrote entitled How to Stay Sane and Not Raise an Asshole was published on Scary Mommy, I received quite a few messages looking for advice on certain parenting issues.
I figured I’d answer the ones that I think may be applicable to many people.
Hello… I have a 3 year old daughter and a 1 year old son. I was wondering If I could get some advice…
My daughter constantly throws fits when it comes to eating because she always wants to be watching her favorite show… If I say no more TV she screams and throws fits…upsets my neighbors badly. She constantly screams and I can’t seem to break it…and my son is always screaming. Like not crying just screams…any advice?
Before we get started, let me just make something clear.
I am not a doctor. I am not a psychologist or therapist or social worker. I have no degree in child psychology.
But I am a mom to seven kids who are all very different. I have a good deal of experience.
And I do have some advice.
I think I can help you change this behavior. But it won’t be easy.
It will most likely totally suck a big one.
But what will totally suck an even bigger one is if you let your daughter continue to run the show.
Because it’s not going to stop once she gets older.
It’s going to get a lot fucking worse.
If you think your neighbors are pissed now, just wait.
If you want to change this behavior, I have a few recommendations.
1) Type up a quick letter. I’m totally serious. I’m not sure how many neighbors you have pissed off, but whatever the number, make that many copies of the letter. Explain to them all that you are working on changing your daughter’s behavior, and that it may get worse over the next week.
I’m not kidding. Not only will your neighbors appreciate the warning, they will have time to buy some earplugs. And they will be prepared when your daughter starts flipping out even worse than she is now when you get to my second recommendation.
2) Stop letting your kids watch TV while they are eating. NOW. Cold turkey. And not just one meal. EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL. No saying, “If you eat breakfast without the TV then you can watch it while you eat lunch.”
You need to turn that shit off.
Yes. Your daughter is going to fucking lose it. Big time. So you need a plan.
3) Change the scenery.
I don’t know where you live. I don’t know what your normal routine is. But here in CT the weather is getting nicer.
Maybe to make the transition easier in the first few days, you could eat outside. Have a picnic. Eat in a place where there is no TV.
And that doesn’t mean take the kids out to eat.
Just eat in a different place at home.
Or let her help you make a meal. Even if it’s just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And then set a table and make a tea party out of it.
Anything to make it fun and different.
I know. That is effort. It’s a lot easier to just let her sit on the couch with a plate next to her.
But like I said, undoing this behavior is going to take work.
She is going to have to work to stop doing something she really enjoys (but is an unhealthy habit), and you are going to have to work hard to undo this habit you have created.
And it’s okay. We have all let our kids slip into behaviors that are not in their (or our) best interest.
But as the adults responsible for their care and control, it is our responsibility to help our children develop habits that keep them healthy and productive and respectful.
5) Prepare yourself for some serious screaming and start using when/then statements.
You obviously can’t turn every meal a tea party. So when you say “We are not watching the TV anymore when we eat meals,” your daughter is gonna lose her shit.
And you are going to have to be able to ignore it. She is going to do her best to wear you down.
You have already tried to tell her no, she has screamed, and you have caved.
So she will scream for a long, long time the first time you tell her there’s no TV at meal time anymore. Because it has worked in the past.
You cannot cave.
And you cannot negotiate.
You lay down the law.
When you eat lunch quietly without screaming, then we can watch your favorite show.
And then you need to stick to that.
If she screams bloody murder while shoving a sandwich in her mouth, that doesn’t count.
And then you can tell her, We can try again at dinner.
6) BE CONSISTENT.
You cannot fluctuate. Ever. Not in the first six months or a year, anyway.
Do not make exceptions, because that will confuse her and it will reset the clock.
And make sure you and her father are on the same page.
Let her throw a fit.
Let her roll around on the floor and kick and scream.
You may have to put her in her room and hold the door shut until she wears herself out.
But if you can ignore her fit and not react to it, she will soon learn that behaving that way won’t get her what she wants.
And that would be my advice for your son, too.
He’s younger, so he won’t understand as well. But kids will throw fits.
Eventually they will stop. But they won’t stop if you give in.
7) Stay calm.
This is the hardest one. A few minutes of screaming can drive you over the edge.
Which is how you got to this point in the first place.
Find something to repeat to yourself to keep you calm.
Breathe. Count. Give yourself a time out if you need one.
Whatever you can do to model the behavior you want her to demonstrate.
8) Keep your eye on the prize.
Like I said, this is going to be hard in the beginning.
And in those moments that you want to just grab the remote and turn the TV on, remember why you are doing this.
And stay strong.
You can do this.
You owe it to your daughter.
And you owe it to yourself.