Saturday, May 1, 2010


I am finding it increasingly difficult to get quality shit-scardness out of my 3yo. Bear with me while I explain.

See, Jacks’s one of these kids who was basically born standing up and drinking coffee. He can do most everything himself and usually does so, with a fair bit of skill. He can kick a ball, he can throw a punch (ask his eight year old brother) and he can dress (more often undress) himself with relative ease. And what he can’t do himself, he will attempt and crack the mother of all tantrums if it all proves too hard. At this stage, and only at this stage, will he begrudgingly ask for help. This is not without a fair bit of crying, whinging and moments when I think his head might spin 360 degrees.

Usually though, he needs little assistance from me. I guess what I’m trying to say, without sounding like I making out my kid is ready for Mensa, is that Jack is pretty switched on. Granted, way more street smart than book smart, but then again, I don’t flash card the shit out him either.

So that being said, discipline is hard because not a lot phases him. I’ve tried the smack, it’s all a bit meh, with me feeling like a child beater and it getting us nowhere, so that’s been nixed. I’ve tried the time out. He’ll just go back and do it again, the minute he’s out of toddler-jail. I’ve threatened to take stuff off him; he’s walked in and handed it to me. I’ve told him I’m going to pull the car over and he’ll have to walk home, he’s told me to pull over at the next red light we stop at. I am trying to outwit a 3 year old and I am failing. And I shouldn’t be, I mean I’ve had two before him who, whilst not angels, I could always control to a certain degree.

Perhaps this is just me getting my own back.

I was pretty straight at school. Until about year 10 that is. That’s when I got suspended. For taking drugs on a school trip. Then I was Bernie Drug. And the thing is, I hadn’t even smoked pot. I took a bucketload of travel sickness tablets and got faceless. Of course I wasn’t alone, we all did it, but I’m the only stupid one, who went running through the bushes in Canberra in Winter with no shoes on. And so, I got busted, and suspended.

I went home and lied through my teeth. I told Mum I had taken panadol with coca-cola. She of course, believed her previous to this, always straight-laced daughter. The fact I let her go to the school and meet with the principal and unwittingly defend me and be made a fool, still haunts me to this day. What kind of little bitch was I? A big one that’s what. So Mum found out the truth, could barely speak to me for weeks and was terrified I was now a drug addict. To be honest, drug wise, it may be the best thing that ever happened to me. I haven’t touched anything worse in my life. That’s because I had remorse and I was scared of disappointing my mother. My teachers, by boss at the times, my friends’ parents.

And I think as kids get older, that’s where the discipline will come from. Not wanting to disappoint the person or people they admire.

In fact, at kindy, they use this a lot. “When you just kicked Tyler in the back of the leg then Jack, that really disappointed Miss Jo” Cue lip drop and lots of tears. See, at Child care Centres they are not allowed to say “No” or negative words. Or Smack. Or yell. Holy hell, those kindy teachers deserve a pay rise and a trip to Mauritius.

So I tried this on Jack today. I told him “how disappointed I was in him”. He immediately looked distraught and his lip quivered.

“No you’re not Mummy, don’t say that!”. He was trying to hush my mouth up.

“Oh but I am Jack, you have let me down today slamming doors after I told you to stop”.

“No, mummy, I haven’t let you dooooowwwwnnn” and he lost it. Mission accomplished. Seems those kindy teachers are onto something.

So now, with my new plan of attack and my words of discontent, I will try a new way of discipline. Looks like I'll be needing those flash cards after all.


Carly Findlay said...

I think that so many children, no matter their age, don't tell their parents things because they are scared they will disappoint them. There's not as big a fear of punishment as the disappointment.
I got into trouble a few years back and Mum asked why I didn't come to her for help. I said that I didn't want to disappoint.
Good luck with your kids, sounds like you've got things figured out, and so have they :)

Quixotic said...

Hahaha! I have a Little Miss Independent, 2 going on 13.. sigh :)

Annieb25 said...

The disappointing parents thing works a treat. Mine are 18 and 16 and they hate it when they disappoint people they love - I can still get tears. My youngest was like your Jack - still is - trying to outwit him does my head in!

miss carly said...

Positive 'I' messages we call them :)

So its: "It makes me upset when you run inside because you might fall over and hurt yourself. Please walk inside."

Yes, please give us a pay rise. Muchly appreciated! LOL.

Lucy said...

Oh sweets, he sounds amazing. Threenager with attitude, but amazing.

Before I got to the end of your post, I was kind of thinking "if not timeout and if not taking his stuff off him, then maybe his currency is more emotional....."

Seems like you may have cracked him!

(He sounds very similar to my 3 year old, Lexie If I tell her she has made me very sad, she falls in a heap...........)

Seraphim said...

I am going off to try this with my toddler RIGHT NOW. Because if he doesn't go to bed soon.....
great post. I use this with my older two to great effect.

Smudgeblurr said...

Hey Bern,
What Miss Carly said twofold. I use this at Prep all the time and it works way better than raising my voice!

Keep smiling

Wanderlust said...

Every child has their currency, finding it is the challenge. Both my kids are emotional too. But they also respond well to time outs, lucky me. I think all kids want their parents approval, that is hard wired into them. Unless they are little sociopaths, in which case, RUN!

Draft Queen said...

This used to work when the tween was younger. Lately, she's full of angsty teen attitude and is busy not giving a darn whether or not she's bothering anyone so long as she is happy.

Good luck with the little guy. He sounds like a smart one!

In Real Life said...


Tenille said...

Sounds like you have your hands full with Jack! It might sound strange, but I'm almost looking forward to the day when my little one understands enough to use these kinds of techniques. Right now she's just a wilful little toddler starting to test the boundaries (and my patience).

lifeinapinkfibro said...

I am so trying this tomorrow. With both of them. Have been needing a new tactic.

swannellc said...

i loves me the jack. that is all.

Bronnie Marquardt said...

I like that...I'm going to try 'disappointed' next time. A new secret weapon for Mumma

Cate Bolt said...

LOL I got told by a positive parenting expert that I was an emotional bully for using this tactic on Bailey when he was 4 or so. It would contribute to his poor self esteem and it would of course be all my fault.
I guess I'll have raised a whole family of basket cases then cause it's the most effective tool available.

Jewels Diva® said...

Mmmm, I'm a bit against telling little children you're disappointed in them.

If your mother told you she was disappointed in you how would you feel? Even as an adult it can hurt. So imagine how a child would feel.

How about changing it to being disappointed with their actions, or choices? It won't be so harsh and won't damage them too much emotionally.

Sarcasm Fairy said...

If time outs, not saying no, smacking, telling the child you're disappointed or distracting them from their behaviour isn't working or is looked down upon by other parents.. then what are we left with?

I enjoy the use of tactics when speaking about kids.. I feel like I'm in the army and going to war. Tantrum ridden war.

Hope that isn't your boy in the photo taking his rage out on Mario Kart! :P

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Oh, Bern. I had to LOL at the comment above that when you threaten to take something off your son, he goes and hands it to you! This has happened to me too and it's so bloody frustrating!

My 3yo is just like yours. He gets up and refuses help with making his breakfast. Today at food shopping, I wasn't allowed to lift the bags in to the trolley - "I do myself!!!" (which is kinda nice in one way, but not when it takes twice as long as stuff is spilling out of the bags in the process).

Hubby and I constantly talk about our third son being the most difficult. He's just full on and just does stuff that his brothers would have *never* attempted to do.

I think they're trying to keep up.

I use the "I'm so disappointed in you" thing too. I recently used that on the 6yo and he got quite upset. I'm going to try and not to overuse it though, otherwise, my special cover will be blown!

Great, funny post!

Dovic said...


I need to find a day I can declare Bernie day. Coz every time I come in here I want to stay for hours. And hours. So I need a day I can sit there and devour your blog from beginning to end.....COZ I FRIGGEN LOVE IT!!! And I'm about 93 posts behind!

Other point is that I have your child here. Not sure how you managed to lose him, and he looks a little different with his red hair and all but yep, I'm pretty sure it's the same kid. I've been working on him too. I use 'the voice'. So far so good (for 2 months now......yipeeeeeeee) but no guarantees on how long it lasts.

Best a luck. And thanks for keeping this little heart over here feeling all manner of emotions each time I pop in xxx

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