Super awesome parenting tip

Not to brag or anything but my kids behave pretty well in public (when you have a lot of kids, there simply isn’t room for a lot of naughtiness. One bad kid is just a handul. Six bad kids is a recipe for total insanity). Last week I took them to Costco and left them sitting at the table in the food area while I waited in line for ten minutes for stupid hot dogs. When I came back the old husband and wife sitting at the table next to ours complimented me on my well-behaved children and said their grandchildren never behaved that nicely. I mentally patted myself on the back for my stellar parenting skills. Big mistake.

Not three minutes later I took a bite of Jasper’s hot dog. Apparently that was the insult of the century because Jasper flipped out, including such pride-inducing bahaviors as writhing on the ground under the table, screaming at the top of his lungs, and throwing his sandals at me. The old couple just looked on, chuckling. I tried to smile and joke, “thanks for jinxing me!” which I sort of meant. Jasper kept wailing that he must have a new hot dog, unsullied by me. I told him I didn’t have any more money (it’s my favorite excuse because kids simply can’t argue with that one. If there’s no money, there’s money. End of story.) The old man at the next table whipped out his wallet and said, “I’ll buy him another hot dog!” I had to inform him that Jasper wouldn’t be getting another hot dog, which would only reward him for his temper tantrum. I was really shocked that these old people would be such softies.

I pretty much belong to the Stern and No-Nonsense school of parenting. I am kind but firm and what I say, goes. I don’t beg or implore. The real bonus of this parenting style comes when I’m out in public. Who hasn’t been to a park or restaurant playground and seen a desperate parent trying to get their child to leave? It’s pretty humiliating having to beg and threaten a three-year-old in front of a bunch of other people.

The best strategies I have learned are from a book called Kid Cooperation by Elizabeth Pantley (great reviews on Amazon, by the way. It’s not a philosophical parenting book. It’s an “I need help now” parenting book). My favorite chapter is called “5, 3, 1, go” and it’s all about getting your child to leave when you want him to (leaving someplace fun, in particular). The idea is that first of all, you don’t tell your child it’s time to leave until you mean it (who hasn’t said, “it’s time to go, kids” then spent fifteen more minutes talking to another mom.) It’s also not fair to not give your kids a warning that playtime is drawing to a close. We all like a head’s up when something fun is about to end.

When you really, truly are getting ready to go, give your children a five minute warning. Which is kind of a pain if you have to walk around the park trying to locate six children. But the great think is that this method totally pays off. It’s worth it. Trust me. Then you give them a warning at three minutes. Then another warning when there is one minute left of playtime. When the minute is up, tell them it’s time to go. Remind them to get their jackets and shoes and then leave. You will not beg. You will not yell, “I mean it! Now!” If there is dawdling or they are ignoring you, simply leave. Yep, you start heading out to the car or walking out the door of McDonalds. (I usually shout “bye, guys” to at least get their attention). Kids hate being left, even the older ones and they’ll eventually get the picture and scurry after you.

When your kids know that it’s time to go and that you are 100% serious, they will come along. The more you do this the easier it gets. Last night we went to a swim party and I did my typical 5,3,1 routine. When it was time to go I had six kids get out of the pool right away (except for Arabella who “didn’t hear me”. She’s a little passive aggressive. But she did get out about 30 seconds later when she saw us walk out of the pool area.) Parenting should really be called “kid training” because that’s what it is. Children have to be trained to know how to behave (some learn faster than others, though). Either they are going to be trained to ignore you because there are no consequences if they do, or they are going to be trained to obey you. It really is your choice.

The nice thing about this method is that there is no yelling, no pleading, no raised tempers. Consequences (like being left behind) are a much more effective teacher than ranting and raised voices.

| Filed under I'm Not So Great, IMO, Kids

12 thoughts on “Super awesome parenting tip

  1. I use that method…sometimes my 5 minutes is more like 15, but they know when I get to the 1 I'm leaving…Austin has been the hardest to "train"! All it took was starting the car a few time and he was there!! I sometimes find the 13 year old harder than the younger ones…I have to retrain sometimes!!

  2. I wonder what one would do if the kid is such a baddy that they stay behind even after you leave…

    I'm terrified my future children will be too smart [ass] for me.

  3. I ADORE that book…I love anything written by that Pantley lady. So much good, practical advice. Laughing about the hot dog incident…

  4. Great post…and "kid-training", so true!! (I also believe in "daddy-training") I am a preschool teacher and the best advice i give (over and over!) is never say you are going to do anything unless you truly are going to do it…consequences and rewards, once your child realizes you may not always keep your word and follow through, they know the game is on!

  5. So what do you do when you walk out of the play area and they still don't follow, you walk out of the Mcdonalds door and they still don't follow you, you start your car and they are still at the top of the slide? I've actually started backing out of the parking spot and then had to pull back in and repeat the routine. Granted, this doesn't happen often. But on those occasions….? (Guess which child I'm talking about.)

  6. Sounds great, Jennie. You really do have well behaved children, even though they are sometimes human. And, Arianne, that stay-behind sounds like D _ _ _ _ _, not to mention names.

  7. I do the same thing and it does work. I do that with bedtime too.

    Attack this one: potty talk. Like my boys thinking farts are hilarious and are saying poop and bum all the time. How do I get them to quit?

  8. This sounds like a great tip. Although, I haven't usually had a big problem getting my kids to leave places, and I'm not sure what I'm doing right, except for that when I watch other moms fail at getting their kids to leave I often think they're doing it wrong. I think the main thing that drives me nuts is when they try to reason with the kids: "I won't take you here again if you don't come right now." The kid's not going to care right then what happens next week.

    Maybe I just don't take my kids anywhere fun.

    Rookie Cookie, my own take on potty talk is to try to keep it to specific places–i.e. tell them that they can talk that way in the bathroom but not at the dinner table, or can make fart jokes at home but never ever at the neighbors' house. I hope this is working (so far I haven't gotten any bad reports from neighbors, but they might have blacklisted my family without my knowing it). I guess your rule has to reflect what you can tolerate, and I'm pretty okay with potty talk as long as I'm not trying to eat and not being embarrassed in front of the neighbors.

  9. I've always given the countdown. It never seemed fair to yank them away without warning.

    My kids love to turn into Mr. Hydes right after being complimented for being such lovely Dr. Jeckylls.

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