We asked our mum panel what they do when they need to address naughty behaviour. Their answers vary greatly but provide some brilliant food for thought:
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
"I'd love to say that my husband and I sat down and came up with a plan on how to discipline our children and some house rules to follow, but we didn't and so we have muddled our way through the first 30 months with a few wise words from Gina Ford, watching the TV show Three-day Nanny and strategies borrowed from friends and family.
We did decide early on that we would back each other up with the children's confrontations and challenging behaviour. We always try to bend down to their eye level, to maintain eye contact and my husband and I try to be consistent and use similar words. We aren't big fans of the word 'no', preferring explanations as to why their actions or behaviour may be dangerous or inappropriate, taking time to explain in the hope that will understand. We try to give the children a choice if they are doing something inappropriate, not using too many words, but keeping it simple and easy to understand - "Stop throwing your food or go to your bedroom; it's your choice" - and then repeating it if necessary. We don't have a naughty step but they do go to their bedroom for two minutes (a minute for each year of age) if needed. When we go in to collect them, we explain again why they have been in their room (to think about what they did), then it's apologies and moving on with a fun activity.
We are big fans of praising good behaviour and with the twins this can often work well to counter act any bad behaviour as they are very competitive and it is a far more pleasant experience for us all."
- Kirsty Radley, 36, from the UK, is a former head teacher and now a stay-at-home mum. Her twins Ella and Caleb are two and her son Isaac is two months.
BEING AS GENTLE AS POSSIBLE
"I've learnt to focus on the reason behind my daughter's tantrums, and this is no easy task, I assure you. Firstly, I remind myself that I'm the adult in the situation (sometimes questionable), take a deep breath, give her a big hug and try to help her name her feelings. Showing her empathy at a time when she has lost control of her emotions is key to a trusting relationship. It's important to calm the situation to a place where your child has gained control and is given time for the portion of the brain that detaches in a 'fight or flight' situation to resume activity. A child's brain works differently from an adult brain and having that understanding can prove invaluable. Being able to talk through what happened, how it made them feel and what they think can be done to prevent it happening again, will help your children to process what has happened in a calm and safe environment.
There are tons of gentle parenting, conscious parenting and mindful parenting books and blogs around these days. I joined Amy Vogelaar, a parenting educator, for her ToddleCalm workshop, which gives a great insight in to how the toddler brain develops, and tips on how to deal with certain situations. She provides a good amount of literature and useful links to help you on your way. It's not for everyone, and if you are looking for tips on discipline then this is probably not the workshop for you! I love the idea behind gentle parenting. I wish I could say that it comes naturally, but it's tough. I want to get through the day with as little conflict as possible.
I have to put myself in a to time-out sometimes so I can collect myself and come up with some fun ways to resolve a conflict. I do sometimes end up shouting at my six-year-old to stop throwing plastic balls at her baby sister's head, but I think it's important to show that part of being human is making mistakes and that's fine - it's how you deal with them that matters."
- Sheena Pidgeon, 34, from the UK, works full time and is mum to Tauri, six, and Summer, one.
TRAINING AS WELL AS RAISING
"My husband and I have always tried to train our children as well as raise them. By raising them, we were ensuring that they are safe, fed and that we are maintaining life and fostering physical growth. By training them, we need to ensure that they are "twisted into greatness", even if it is against their nature. Long-lasting change requires diligent training, something that even we as adults struggle with. We try to cause a change in their direction by constantly modelling behaviour and setting firm boundaries. Our children have always had the freedom to move within those boundaries.
The children are our responsibility and not the responsibility of their teachers or the woman standing behind us at the grocer, so it's up to us to train them up to have wisdom, self-control and responsibility. Isn't that the greatest blessing?"
- Janine Mackenzie, 34, from South Africa, is an SEN teacher and educational consultant and currently a stay-at-home mum to Josh, 16, Abigail, five, and Jessica, two.
SEEING THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE TANTRUM
" When I was pregnant with my first, my mum gave me a book that turned into my go-to reference guide for my children - it is The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland. Not only does it provide the actual scientific evidence and explanation for how our children grow and develop, it gives you tools for how to parent during these stages. The chapter on toddler discipline is particularly eye-opening, as it explains the difference between the two kinds of tantrums, Distress and Little Nero. Basically the Little Nero tantrum is the spoilt brat one, and the biggest sign is that your child can still talk properly and is manipulating their behaviour to get what they want. The response is to stay firm and ignore it.
The Distress tantrum is when your child is struggling with their big emotions, and yes, sometimes its that they are disappointed and, no, they can't have a toy every time you go to the mall, but it is possible they haven't physically developed the mental capacity to understand why they can't have it and they are genuinely devastated. Signs are that they are unable to properly communicate and are extremely upset, they literally can't put their emotions into words. With this one, the answer is to stay calm, communicate and keep them in contact with you. During the tantrum your child will be experiencing a rush of cortisol and they need your physical touch to help them calm down, they simply aren't physically developed enough to do it by themselves, so keep them close and allow them to cuddle you afterwards so their emotions can be reined in.
Sometimes I can manage my tiredness and frustration and act the 'right' way and afterwards I feel like I have conquered the world. But sometimes I've lost my cool and snapped. I'm not proud of it, but it happens. And it happens to all of us. But we're all doing our best and that's what matters the most."
- Tess Kiernander, 31, from the UK, works full time and is mum to Dylan, aged three, and Finley, two months.