While I’m writing over at the Graceful Mom (inspiration and encouragement for the working mom) today, I’m pleased to have Maureen from Childwise Chat drop by today to talk about a little something I’ve been thinking about ever since I read it on her blog.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
You know the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Well, it holds true for parenting just as much as it does for our health. Brush your teeth twice a day, and you don’t get cavities. Catch your child before he misbehaves, and you don’t have behavior issues.
If you’ve ever visited my blog, you know I’m a big proponent of first-time obedience. I’ve even written a 100+ page e-book on the topic. While our children are young, they should be taught to obey. As parents, we are their authority figures for a reason. We provide the guidance and boundaries kids crave.
There are many steps involved in teaching a child to obey the first time, so I won’t get into that here. (You can read more on my blog here.) But getting back to the idea of prevention, there’s a little trick you can use to head those little behavior problems off at the pass. And this works for kids as young as a year to kids as old as 8 or 9. (My oldest is 8, so I can’t speak much beyond that.)
We all know our kids so well. And there’s not a child I’ve met who doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve. All we have to do is look for that twinkle in their eyes or the smirk on their mouths.
I homeschool my boys, and just recently, I could tell my five-year-old was getting bored and wanted to cause some mischief. I could just see it in his eyes. So what did I do? Did I wait for him to actually cause mischief? No, I stopped him before he crossed the line.
I didn’t put him in a full timeout (which we do on the bed or on the toilet in the powder room downstairs). I just had him sit on the couch to think about what his heart was telling him. See, he hadn’t really done anything wrong. But I knew he could listen to his heart. I had him sit until I could tell he had a change of heart, a happy heart, so to speak.
In the Babywise books, the Ezzos call this a “reflective timeout.” It’s not a timeout used to punish the child. It’s a timeout that removes the child from the situation and gives him some peace and quiet that enables him to change his heart. It stops the misbehavior in its tracks.
If you have a little one who doesn’t sit well, try having him fold his hands. Sometimes, giving the child something to think about, keeping those hands folded, is just enough to settle them down. And if you can’t remove the child from the situation (in a restaurant or other public place), have him fold his hands. Again, it will settle him down.
Most of all, realize that you don’t need to accept behavior issues. Watch your child closely and use a reflective timeout to stop your child before he hits the point of no return.
Maureen Monfore is a mother of two boys and is the author
of ChildwiseChat.com and the e-book, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience.