So far I do not have a toddler or a speaking child. I have a 6 month old. However, we have just started to say ‘no’ to Sophie. She is at a very cute stage in her development where she has to have everything. Is there a cup of tea? That is Sophie’s. Is there a TV remote? That is Sophie’s. Do you have a sandwich in your hand? That is Sophie’s. She reaches for everything and anything that isn’t one of her toys.
However, while this is very cute, we have started to make ‘ah ah ah’ noises so she knows what she is doing is wrong. I realise a 6 month old can’t really be seen as doing something wrong by reaching out for things. But yesterday she pulled a cup (that I thought was out of the way!) over herself. Luckily it was Diet Coke but what if it was a hot drink? So now begins the gentle teaching of the wonderful word, NO.
It made me think about how we should discipline her (some of which I discussed here). We both know a lot of it will start now – saying no, warning tones, telling people not to laugh at her grabbing things that are dangerous (<– which drives me mad!) etc. I want her to understand no now, and instil in her a basic understanding of right and wrong.
They say it’s impossible for a baby of 6 months to be manipulative…but that is incorrect. Sophie has this new thing. She is on her mat and crying…I pick her up and she immediately stops. As a test, I went to lay her back down and the tears started again! She didn’t want to be on her mat so turned on tears til she was picked up. That is a baby that knows the difference!
I am rambling – the whole point of this post was to discuss saying no to children. I am so so worried about Sophie turning into an obnoxious little shit I am already planning with Husband ways to tackle unruly behaviour. I don’t want a spoiled brat for a child. I plan to give her things of course, but I also plan to ensure that she earns her treats. I firmly believe in chores from a young age (picking up toys from the floor when very small) and as they get older adding more and giving her a sense of responsibility. I see TV shows where parents do absolutely everything for their kids til they’re 18 – cooking, cleaning, picking up after them etc and I think they are nuts. Why is it not okay to get children to do a little housework? Why is it ok for YOU, the parent, to tidy their room and make their beds at 15? It isn’t. I’m not saying Sophie will be operating the washing machine at age 10, but I am saying she will be bringing her laundry to the basket herself, making her bed, tidying her things and helping with the washing up.
When she gets to secondary school I will teach her how to iron a shirt, how to cook (basic stuff) and she will be involved in kitchen chores. No, this doesn’t make me some horrible parent who wants her children to cook and clean for her. I want Sophie and any other children we have to earn their pocket money or treat. I could easily let them not do things for themselves, but then when they get to uni they have to learn anyway, so why not do it all when they’re young?
It bothers me when parents let their kids get away with anything. I read so many stories that say that disciplining kids makes them feel like failures and I just want to smack the writer. They are the first person to say that we have a generation of shitbags when things go pear shaped! Praise for doing what they are told is what works. What’s wrong with saying no to your child? Teach them some respect and manners damnit! If they choose not to use the manners you teach them, that’s why there is punishment.
Sophie will learn her pleases, thank you’s and excuse me’s. She will have manners. She will ask permission to do certain things or have certain things. She will tidy her room and do her chores. Because the result of her not doing so will not be a treat or praise, it will be taking her rewards, knocking an hour off her bedtime and making sure she understands what she did is wrong. Sophie can shout and scream and demand things of us, but she won’t get them. Husband has a brother who got away with everything and was spoiled as a child. He is 24, living at home with no job, can’t use a cooker, washing machine or iron, has everything done for him and still speaks to his mother like shit. I will not have that – his mother might be stupid enough to do it but I won’t.
I know so many of you who are parents are probably laughing at me. I know I sound like it’ll be easy but I can bet it won’t be, I’m not that naive! I’m fully anticipating a battle to get her to do things when I ask. However, this is why I want to be relatively strict while she is young and ease up the older she gets. I might not even need to worry – she might just do as she’s told first time (ha).
When I was 13, I knew how to wash and iron clothes, I helped with food shopping, hoovering and tidying. We had a rota in our kitchen for washing up, drying, putting away and sweeping the floor. By the time me and my brothers were 14, we were all pretty self sufficient – except cooking meals. I could cook, but Mum did that – I make flour explosions when I bake!
I will do my best to make sure my children understand that no means no, right from wrong and using manners. I want them to be confident, competitive and have respect for their elders and people around them. I don’t want them to bully others, but to share and be mindful of others’ feelings.
And if they decide that they want to have a tantrum about it, well they get nothing but an early bed time and confiscated toys.
So, Sophie, in 16 years when you read this blog you can tell me how I’ve done. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!