Last week I was lucky enough to speak to New Zealand’s own Super Gran, Diane Levy on her top tips for getting children to do what they’re told and how to make Time Out work effectively.
It is never easy getting our children to do what they are told and is frustrating when you find yourself repeating the same request again and again. So, when I recently met with New Zealand’s very own Super Gran, Diane Levy, it was a perfect opportunity to quiz her on her own thoughts on discipline and Time Out for children and other ways to get our children to do as we ask.
Many of you know Diane from her time presenting the hit TV show From Demons to Darlings. If not, then you are bound to have either read or at least have heard of her best-selling book, Of Course I Love You… Now Go To Your Room
(a copy of which Diane is offering as a give-away for the best comment or question on this blog). In this book, Diane covers a lot of the frustrations we parents have at trying to get our children to do what we ask them to do. Diane has also written: Time Out for Tots Teens and Everyone in Between
and They Look So Lovely When They’re Asleep: Advice and Anecdotes for Practicing Parents
Getting Your Child To Do What You AskI was lucky enough to be able to record a podcast with Diane Levy last week which covers all her advice and tips in more detail.But, in summary, this is what she says:
Diane believes in the three-prong technique: Ask, Tell, Act.
Ask your child to do something once. Eg. ‘Please can you tidy up your blocks.’ If this hasn’t worked in 5-10 seconds then move quickly to the next stage.
Tell your child to do what you want. Stop what you are doing. Go right up to the child and stand there beside them. Do not crouch down to their level but stand tall and, in a strong, clear but calm voice, TELL them to do what you want. Eg ‘Tidy up the blocks.’
Note: It is very important to stop what you are doing and take the time to go directly up to them. It is equally important to not raise your voice but to TELL them in a quiet, low voice. This stage should take place no more than 10seconds after the first stage.
Without saying anything further or asking again, quickly put them into Time Outuntil they are ready to come back and do as you ask.If a child does something really bad eg biting/ hitting another child, skip the Ask and Tell stages but just put them straight into Time Out, ideally without saying a word, or alternatively telling them: ‘You know you are not allowed to do that.’
Diane believes in Time Out as an effective method of getting children to do as they are told. This is what she says:
Time Out is time away from a situation for both parties. It shouldn’t be thought of as a punishment but as a method of giving yourself some space away from each other in order to allow you time to control your temper and regain your composure. It is also a way for your child to think and reflect about what the right thing to do is.
Time Out can be effectively used there in the room with you by just turning away from the child to give them time to come to you; or you can throw a hoop on the floor and ask your child to stand there until they are ready to do as you ask. Or, to take Time Out to the next stage, pop the child in their bedroom to reflect. One stage further again is when you shut the door on the child. This shows them what they have done is wrong and that you are unhappy with them by closing the door to separate them from the rest of the family. Tell them when they are ready to do as you ask then they come out. If they come out and are still not ready to do as you ask then pop them back in Time Out again until they are ready. When you do release them from Time Out, don’t make the mistake of asking them what they are in Time Out for as it invites sulkiness and belligerence. If the child is younger, don’t insist on an apology – this could also invite more bad behaviour.
Next week Diane will talk about fussy eaters and toilet training techniques.
Other Forms of Discipline
Here in New Zealand, smacking is against the law. Even if it wasn’t, it is not an effective way of disciplining as it can easily get out of control. eg Imagine this…little Johnny does something naughty, you lose your temper and you smack their hand to give them a short, sharp shock. They look at you sulkily and say, “That didn’t hurt!” You get annoyed and smack their hand harder. You know it hurts as tears have sprung to their eyes but they are determined not to show it hurts so you are getting more and more frustrated. You either give up then and there or you do something worse. You smack harder than you would have liked. By this time the situation has got out of control and nobody wins.
If there is a time that Time Out would not work (Diane cites her own example in our podcast where her daughter cut up a family heirloom with a pair of scissors) then think carefully about how you are going to teach your child the correct behaviour. In Diane’s case she banned the daughter using scissors for a month. In a case where your child won’t get dressed in the morning, one of my friends literally took their child to preschool in nothing but her knickers. The child was very smug until she had to walk in and then she very quickly put on the clothes mum had brought with her. Other ideas would be to not give your child the audience they crave if they are being silly and eg not getting dressed. Simply close their door and walk away and give them the time and the lack of audience so that it is no longer funny and they can get on with getting dressed/ making their bed etc.
There are two forms of temper tantrums:
- Control eg ‘I want THAT and you won’t give it to me.’
- Despair eg ‘I am soooo tired that everything feels hard.’
With the Control Temper Tantrum, use the Ask, Act, Tell system. Ask them to stop that crying. Tell them to stop. Pop them into Time Out. With the Despair Temper Tantrum, comfort them. Give them a cuddle and sit with them for a while until they calm down. They just want attention, time and a hug.
Diane is offering a signed copy of her book Of Course I Love You… Now Go To Your Room for one lucky reader. Simply ask Diane a question or add a comment via this blog, using the Comments button below. The winner will be drawn on 22nd Dec.
And, don’t forget to listen to Diane’s full podcast in itunes by clicking here: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/podcast/if-only-theyd-told-me-podcast/id524331437
Or find us on Stitcher radio by clicking here: http://stitcher.com/s?fid=26808