Can I smell the soap?
What better time to write a Blog on child’s behaviour than when nursing a sizeable purple head lump; thanks to a frying pan and an overenthusiastic toddler during the annual family pancake flipping contest. The pancake flippers behaviour however isn’t in question as they were doing what we all were. Just with the energy of a Duracell bunny and the coordination of well a 2 year old. Perhaps a better time to reflect upon behaviour was the time one pushed the other down the stairs, or one decided to go for a 6am bike ride in the street, one threw a plate of food at me refusing to eat their tea, the trip to A&E. Any day we are with our children really, involves managing their behaviour.
Our last blog was about all the wonderful ways you can cope with deployments and the fabulous resources to support your child through that. (https://www.marriedtothemilitary.uk/post/kids-deployments ). This blog however I am focusing on the main problem I face with T away, the kids behaviour. Inbetween a crayon expression on a littletroopers colouring page and completing our reading force scrapbook (like a perfect family picture we have photoshoped for instagram) the rest of the time is me shouting “Get dressed”, “Brush your Teeth”, “eat that”, “please can you just eat that”, “why have you taken your socks off, we just put them on!”, “Get dressed”, “please just eat some of your tea”, “don’t do that to your sister”. With T away managing kids behaviour is relentless and non-stop, You don’t have the extra back-up bad cop voice of, “Will you just do as you are told”. You become a broken record of daily instruction.
Here are therefore my randomly thought up unedited behaviour tips to help when you might be on your own as a few back up ideas. They cover; consistency, perseverance, creativity, smiling, communication, patience and always thankful. Being consistent in rules and routines is a good place to start. This helps if these are established before your spouse departs so there’s little change. Children don’t get unsettled and they know what they have to do, after bath is bedtime, rules about when they get to watch tv. If you change the rules tell the children about it, get them involved. If you are the one, who is very much a ruler bender you may find it harder to stick to the threats but believe me it helps in the long term. Inconsistency means children don’t know expectations and are more likely to misbehave or not to what is required. Having written that I’m the one who’s completely inconsistent and will threaten a removal of toy and then not do it. Whatever you say, even if it is putting all their toys in the bin. You’ve got to stick to it. (Hands up I’m so bad at this). Be careful what you say to children as at one point they will test you so you’ve got to follow through with it. If you are never actually going to put all their toys in the bin it’s pretty pointless. I started taking my daughters dresses away when she couldn’t decide what to wear (no options then) and they just went away than in the bin. If she got dressed quicker, she could have one back. Get creative with behavioural incentives. Just because I know my kids react to such different things that banning one from the telly would made no difference to the other. Turing anything into a competition; Can you race me to get dressed, who can eat tea quickest? Sand timers are a useful tool for things like this. Pretend a spoon of food is different characters from paw patrol and someone is stuck in a cave & they are off to the rescue, (this has got me through a lot of meal times). I once saw a Mum when the kids came running back from the loo in a restaurant if she could smell the soap!! “Ooo roses!”, “Why is she so excited by the smell of soap?” Ohhhh (I may have made this noise about 30 minutes after when the penny dropped) because now her kids wash their hands properly with soap. Yes, my kids now proudly present me their fragranced hands so I can smell the soap.
Stay calm, a smile can defuse situations like water on a fire. Fighting fire with fire just makes everyone hot & bothered. Talk to your child, ask a child what they are doing before you tell them off. Children are wonders because they don’t think like an adult so something we see as a disaster might actually be a misinterpretation of a child trying to helpfully clean the floor. That’s beautiful, you’d made a Muriel like the one on a wall in town! Next time perhaps we’ll stick paper on the walls first (the magnolia looks brighter now!). I never would have worked out it was breakfast the child was making if I hadn’t asked them first. I don’t think said child would have it again after a taste test. It was a walnut on a slice of frozen bread. Be patient. Learning is an adventure and children are not simple to program. Finally, and most importantly. Never ever ever every forget how wonderful and precious your children are. Just switch on the news or a gofundme page to see. Hug them tight. Having written these while T is away I might actually print them up and stick them on the fridge as a reminder-to-self. While I’m there I will get some ice for the lump on my forehead too.