Over Christmas hubby and I read and started following the program in the book 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child. The title gives the game away and sums up what you can expect. Follow the advice given by the author, a leading child and family psychotherapist, and within ten days you will have a less defiant child on your hands. Day One is all about taking a step back and recognising your own negative parenting behaviours, which I’ve detailed below.
Reading about the detrimental long term effects these behaviours can have on the children was sobering to say the least. I can imagine every single parent on the planet is guilty of a few of them, but hubby and I ticked off almost every one. As I wrote earlier this week we got to Day Six of the ten day program and realised that things were not working as well as they were in the earlier days. Rather than crack on with what the books says, we have decided to focus our efforts on trying to eradicate these behaviours as best we can.
– we all know it’s not great to shout at our kids, but I have to admit things had got pretty bad in our house. Voices were being raised on a daily basis, which was upsetting for all concerned. Reading this was a wake up call to me – “when you yell at your kids you are showing poor impulse control delivered through a temper tantrum” – I honestly had never looked at it that way before! “I encourage you to realise, as I did, that we are bullying our children when we yell at them” – reading this bit made tears spring to my eyes. I despise the word bully, and was horrified to think of myself as one. I’m proud to say that we managed an entire week without shouting at all. Week two saw tempers being lost a few times, but both hubby and I are so much more calm in general than we were pre-Christmas. I’d like to think that we’ve broken the habit on this one now.
– I was (and still am to some degree) guilty of going on about something if I don’t think the kids have ‘got it’. Nagging at them just means they start completely tuning out to everything that is said, so I’m learning that it’s best to just walk away and keep my mouth shut sometimes.
Bringing up past conflicts
– until recently I always started a new day with a fresh slate, but reading the book highlighted that I had started holding on to resentment from the days and weeks before. I think because it was a fairly new bad habit, I was able to break it quite quickly as well. It was definitely one of the easiest things to stop doing.
– as I said in my first post most kids are not evil geniuses plotting and planning on how to make their folks miserable, but it can definitely feel that way when you’re in the midst of dealing with severely challenging behaviour from them. I know I was letting my thoughts run away with me at times, and blaming our eldest (in my head) for all of the family’s problems. It had to stop. A large part of the book I have just published talks about how detrimental toxic relationships are, and toxic thoughts are just as bad. Except you are in full control of stopping them. So I did.
– I’m pleased to say that I haven’t ever criticized my kids. Mainly because I saw it a lot in my childhood, and know it can lead to low self-esteem as time goes on.
– I’m working on this one, but I’ll admit, it’s tough for me. When 5yo does something to her brother or sister, then shows absolutely no remorse at all, my natural instinct is to try and make her feel bad about it. I know logically that it’s fools errand though, and an apology without sincerity is not worth having. Again I’m learning to just keep my mouth shut and walk away in these situations, but it does not come easy to me.
– I’d recently started doing this too, but as with holding on to past conflicts it was a fairly new habit and an easy one to put a stop to.
– I guess this is a combination of guilt tripping and nagging. The more I lecture, the less she listens, so what’s the point?
– we were in a terrible mess with this one, threatening to take things away on a daily basis. The main problem with our defiant little girl is that she is constantly testing the boundaries and seeing if we will follow through with our threats. Then when she’d pushed it too far and had the thing taken away all hell would break loose. We had to stop the threats, but also stop the on the spot punishments too. They were doing no one any good, and it’s another thing that I’m proud to say we have been mostly successful with.
Not listening to your child
– I don’t think this was ever done intentionally, but in the book he talks about the importance of properly listening to your kids. Letting them get their point across, even if you think you have something to say that you feel is more important. This is a tricky one, because in the heat of the moment sometimes the last thing we want to do is listen to what they have to say.
Denying Your Child’s Feelings
– this is another tricky one, because my girl can dish it out but can’t take it at all. When the toddler fights back 5yo will come crying for sympathy, the last thing I feel like giving her considering she’s been goading her sister for two hours previously. As difficult as it has been at points, I’ve had to just ignore what happened beforehand and give her the comfort she needs.
– neither of us have ever hit our kids. In all honesty, knowing how violent our 5yo can get sometimes, I can almost guarantee that hitting her would make her a million times worse. It’s not a road we will be going down.
So there you have it, my life in a nutshell right now. By focusing our efforts on our own negative behaviour, we figure that over time, it has to trickle down and have a positive effect on the kids. What are your views on this approach? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section 🙂