Making Parenting Easier; The Pre-School to Early School Years

Parenting is one of the hardest tasks out there. Having a 4 year old and a 2 year old means I face difficult tasks and situations everyday. Ones where the child is just not listening to a word I am saying then decides to test their lung capacity by screaming the house down. I have decided to write a list of things that I've learnt to do over the last few years that have made these testing temper tantrums easier. They are ways to ease a child into doing something they probably don't want to, or to stop them from doing something they aren't allowed to. Sometimes, just sometimes they are the difference between a full blown meltdown in a shop to calmly walking on and getting on with the rest of the shopping. It's parenting made just a bit easier by taking on board the following things I've learnt;

1. Choices- I find that giving my children choices makes life a lot easier. I don't give them many choices, but a choice is far better than making demands. I use this tactic for many things, from them choosing what to wear, what to eat and what to do. So if they are being terrors, I try to not just shout at them and make matters worse, I try to ask them what they want to do; usually I only allow two choices and both are wins for me but just by giving them that choice seems to make all the difference in handling a difficult situation. For example, the two year old keeps telling us he wants to hold "me hand" then he'll hold his hands together and try to walk himself. I then offer, reigns or my hand.  

2. The 5 minute warning. This is also a handy tactic in difficult situations. Usually this is given in fun places like soft play where it is the end of the world for your child when you announce the departure and they go into a full on meltdown. It makes it a bit easier if you warn them that in 5 minutes you will be leaving, or another 5 goes on the slide, or another 5 minutes of their show before its their siblings turn. It allows a pre warning to the child, informs them of your intentions, and mostly but not all of the time avoids anger being hurled at you. 

3. Tokens. We have recently started a new reward system using tokens. Basically I transformed some of my birchboxes; one for Dylan, one for Zac and one to hold the homemade foam tokens in. The boys helped to hand decorate these and now basically for good behaviour or helping mummy to do jobs, they earn tokens. Each token is worth 50p and each month they have the opportunity to earn their pocket money. If bad behaviour occurs, they lose them. 

4. Emotions. Talking about each other's feelings is a really useful thing to do. It helps the child to realise that there is reasoning behind your adult requests and consequences to their actions. While I put either of them on the naughty step/ corner, I make sure I explain why I have done this and how it makes me/ others involved feel. I hope with time this makes them kinder and more thoughtful children. 

5. Their involvement. Getting them involved, whether it's help with the house or lunch or getting the washing in, is informative for them and a bonus for you. It keeps them distracted from getting into mischief. One of their favourite activities to help Mummy with is to load up the washing machine while I chuck it down the stairs. They usually get a token for this too. 

6. Independence. This is key to understanding a toddler. Some can be very independent creatures and want to do everything by themselves. I've got two of them! As hard as it is when you're faced with a two year old who wants to drink out of a big boy cup, but every time does spills it everywhere, sometimes it just has to be done. Think of how amazing it must make them feel, not how wet and soggy the floor could become. I don't give in to requests all of the time but I also can't pass up the chance for them to build on their independence, as frustrating as it is when they refuse to eat the yogurt after I opened it, not them! 

7. Fun fun fun. Try to find fun whatever you do, if you want them to tidy up, try making a race or game out of it. If you are struggling to get them dressed, make up a fun song to sing whilst doing it. If they're having fun they are more likely to do the task. 

8. Pick your battles. This is one I have mentioned in a previous post. I highly believe in picking your battles. Sometimes I get grumpy and before I realise it, I've been snapping at everything the kids do so they think all Mummy does it moan and nag. That's why most days I learn to pick my battles so I'm not constantly shouting at them, if something can be addressed in a different matter like a like FYI chat, then brill. If not save the real terror toddler moments for the naughty corner. 

9. Breathe! Sometimes I forget to do this, but sitting down amongst the chaos and taking deep breathes really does help.

10. Scary monsters. Playing fun games like this really helps your child see you as a fun person in their life, it may also persuade them to get on with their chores. 

11. Imagination. Help to open the box of imagination. Instead of that mound of toys being a massive headache and mess, turn it into treasure and the pirate boys need to quickly haul it into their treasure chest (the toy box). Imagination helps with all sorts, talking about feelings, addressing tasks. Try to open up your imagination and you'll soon start to realise your children see the world through amazing magical eyes.  

12. Creativeness. Get creative with rewards, if you want the lounge cleared up, or the kids to behave, bribe them with an activity. My boys love to make cards and do crafts so we try to do this as much as possible and its great at getting them on board and pre occupied. I feel if they are given these opportunities, they are more likely to comply when I have my own requests. It's great bonding to join in with this too. Another thing I like to do is draw roads and houses out of chalk in the garden, then they can happily play for ages with their toy cars. Sometimes the boring mundane every day becomes too much for their brilliant minds so creativity is essential. 

What do you do to tone down the temper tantrums? Is there any handy tips you would give other Mum's on how to address challenging behaviour? Pop a comment below, I'd love to hear from you. 

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