Thursday, December 29, 2011

Six (or so) Easy Steps to Taming Your Feral Child

In doing some research for my blog and it's new direction, I came across a whole bunch of blogs written by Moms.  However, most blogs are written by happy stay-at-hom moms with small children and talk about crafts and their latest trip to Disney and poopy diapers.  That ain't me.  I'm past that phase.  I'm worrying about my kids applying to colleges and staying away from kids who steal their parent's liquor at the moment.

Oh, I know how that world is, I was there once, sans the Disney trips.  You think you're the first one to ever have cute little kids and enjoy being a happy family, and you think we are all eager to hear about your kids... endlessly.  Oh, no offense to those moms, I've just been there, you want to share your joy.  But I just wanted to say that sometimes in reading about all the cutsie wootsie stories you tell of all the adorable things that little McKenzie did... I think, I would have booted the kid across the room.

And then the mommies even make jokes about being at their wits end with said adorable child.  Oh honey, I feel like that everyday, but it's not from having annoying kids it's from having busy kids.  Oh my children aren't perfect, I just figured out how to nip bad behavior in the bud.  I'll still get cranky kid attitude steered my way once in a while, but I don't get disrespect.  Want to know how?

Well, buy my book!

No, just kidding.  That's how the pitch usually goes... brings you right to the brink, and then chops you off at the knees, just like a girl in a short skirt.

Well, I'll tell you how, because I'm nice like that. (donations accepted, though)  Parents... stay in control.  Ain't no child ever paid attention to or respected a screaming, cussing parent.  Did you when you were a kid?  When my Mother went off, I just thought she was crazy, and as I got older... embarrassing.  But when she just stopped and looked me in the eye, oh I had the fear of God in me.  Oh and the worst was when she was just quiet and told me I had dissappointed her.  OH!  Stab stab stab in the heart!

Easy Steps for when your child talks back or has a tantrum:

1.  Physically get down to eye to eye level with them.
2.  Talk to them calmly, yet firmly, maintain direct eye contact.  (you can't sound like Mr. Rogers, you must   be firm)  If they look away, say "you need to look at me".
3.  State with authority that that behavior is not acceptable and we do not do that in this house.
4.  Ask them if they heard you and to repeat it.
5.  Tell them when they can act in a civil manner, you will discuss it or continue whatever.
6.  Stand up and continue what you were doing.  (unless there's blood to clean up or something)

If a problem is more involved you may need to discuss it with them.  For instance, "Would you like it if I threw a Matchbox Car at you?"  Or "Why would you deliberately take the paints out after I told you no?".  Sometimes "No, because I said so" isn't the best answer.  Kids need to learn logic and reason.  Explain to them "We don't have enough time to paint, becuase we are having guests for dinner and I need the table".

Adults, do you feel better after someone explains why they said no, rather than just saying no?  I rest my case.  "Can I have a raise?"  "No."  My first thought is "I suck".  But after they tell me they lost money in the 4th Q and just can't, then I accept it.

I won't lie, it takes a great deal of patience on the parent's part.  Oh and , some kids may still flip out, it's not a cure all.  But if you remain calm and CONSISTENT, I can almost guarantee you'll see the behavior improve over time.  It needs to start as soon as they start talking though.  Just laughing off that behavior because they are "little" only creates monsters. (Have we not all learned anything from Toddlers and Tiaras?)  It's never too early to start expecting respectable behavior from a child.  Most important thing is, don't stoop to their level!  Yea, I know we all have our limits, but even if you do have a flip out, apologize to the child and use it as a lesson that we all get stressed out, you know how the child feels.  Keep the faith and have a cocktail after they go to bed.


  1. I always thought duct tape solved everything! Madge, a well written piece for parents - as someone raised by disproportionate reaction screamers and bringers of doom, I think this is the way to go!

  2. Great blog chock full of common sense. Now if only SOMEONE I know would read this. . .

    xoxo McG

  3. Those first two steps are the key ones. And sometimes when my youngest was too deep into a breakdown I would often just pick her up, move her about two feet (usually just pick her up, turn around, set her down), then get down at her level and start talking calmly too her. Nothing aggressive like dragging her by her ear into a bathroom for a 'talk'. And if she was yelling or screaming I would whisper so that she couldn't hear me and have to quiet herself down.

  4. Exactly Svaha! No grabbing, or dragging is necessary, and that repositioning works wonders! Oh and if it happens in a public place, you need to take them somewhere private, no need to have a public display. It teaches discretion and restraint. Good job!

  5. Where's the part about disarming them. Uhm, you know, in case they come at you with a gun or lead pipe or something?

  6. Beautifully written, to the point, and absolutely on the money!
    Unless of course you actually have a feral child.

  7. Some guy tried doing that tactic to me when I flipped out. I socked him one in the mouth.

  8. To Shawn - note: not always effective on adults.

  9. I always knew I made a good decision not having kids of my own...but I've always been a bit selfish too! :)
    I've been away for a while, just dropped in to see what's going on. Hope you're doing well, and the kids too...Happy New Year Dear

  10. This sounds about right. Thanks for reminding me why I don't consistently write a blog anymore (small kids, weird stories) and for also validating that if I keep on the path, they might turn out all right after all. (My 3 year old is seriously starting to make me doubt myself.)

  11. LOVED it!

    And Lauren....All 3 year olds make parents doubt's their job!