Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Practise what you preach, teach what you practise

I was frustrated with my daughter because she was too occupied running around the garden to come inside to pee. So she almost wet her pants. No matter that I'd been rushing around, preparing lunch, getting drinks, answering the telephone, clearing up, dealing with tiffs, all the while with a full bladder myself. "But I'm an adult!" I thought. "I've got an excuse!" Then: "No, I should be consistent".

I'm against physical punishments for kids - of any kind. However, as most decent parents know, it's almost impossible not to have succumbed to a slap at least once on our parenting journey. My daughter had deliberately ignored my warnings and swung a bamboo stick around wildly in the air just that one time too many and hit her brother, who exploded in hot tears. I exploded in frustration too, at the failure of my power struggle with her. And because it was dangerous behaviour.
It was a little stinging tap, on the hand, not the cheek, but I still felt mortified.

She did learn not to wave pointed objects around. But a few days later, cross with Mummy, she came and slapped me on the arm. With kids, you teach what you practise (I'll never slap her again).

Parenting is often a clash of egos, a power struggle, a conflict of interests (literally: when you are interested in paying a bill by phone and they're interested in singing at the top of their voices, or when Mummy's interested in writing on the computer and little miss is interested in playing tea-parties; or when you're standing having a refreshing gossip with a friend and little mister's interested in tugging at your sleeve and going to the park...).

The trick's to keep everyone happy, be a patient listener, make sure everyone feels valued, stimulated; to reward the positives, play down the negatives, dis-incentivise bad behaviour; to build up initiative, decision-making, responsibility and self-confidence; and the ability to share and work and play together. A sure road to good behaviour and productivity all round. Or so my husband says, who's in Senior Management!

...Oh, and it's the same with "little people", too, as I've been discovering since I became a Mum!


  1. 'the trick is to keep everyone happy' eerrrr, let me know when you've got that one figured out will you? As the wife of another management speaky sort, I have been on the receiving end of various speeches about maximising results with the children and incorporating 'praise sandwiches' into my tellings off. You know where I put the praise sandwich. MH

    Ps thanks for visiting my place, advice for blogging? Leave really flattering messages and needy bloggers (ahem) respond very quickly! Off to have a squizz at your other posts x

  2. ps agent? Recommend away! Isn't that every blogger's dream?