Remember when you thought skim reading a guide-book and watching a few episodes of Supernanny would be all the grounding you'd need for a lifetime of stress-free parenting?
Remember when you believed all those parenting techniques you'd heard about would actually work – and that merely uttering the words 'naughty step' would be enough to silence your unruly toddler into meek submission?
Remember when you then had a baby and it all went tits up?
Because being consistent and talking calmly only really works when you're not functioning on three hours' sleep a night – and 'time out' only really works when your toddler doesn't think it's a hilarious new game or a great opportunity to formulate an evil new tantrumming technique – we decided it was about time these unrealistic strategies were given an overhaul.
Here are our top 10 alternative techniques for parenting in the real world...
1. Time out: Next time your child is having an uncontrollable tantrum, take him to the nearest newsagent's, purchase a Cadbury Time Out bar and hand it to him.
2. Reasoning: Explain to your child the reason you have locked yourself in the bathroom with a bottle of Rioja is because quite frankly you have had enough, and that is the only room in the house with a lock on it.
3. Consistency: When exercising points one and two, make sure it is always a Time Out bar and always Rioja. Don't just suddenly throw Mars Bars and Merlot into the mix willy-nilly, as this will throw your child into abject confusion.
4. Controlled crying: Give your baby a cuddle, put him in his cot, walk out of the room, find a corner of the house as far away as possible, and cry. Sob your goddamn heart out.
5. Realistic expectations: Expect the worst. And be prepared that you will still be disappointed.
6. Establish routines: Get the babysitter to arrive at exactly the same time every night – five minutes before the 'witching hour' so she has time to take her coat off and make a quick cuppa before the real fun begins. Leave the house immediately on her arrival.
7. A positive mindset: Remind yourself this won't last forever – legally, you can insist they move out at 16.
8. Distraction: Mid-tantrum, tell them they can watch Frozen. While they're engrossed, enjoy a 108-minute nap.
9. Remain calm at all times: Employ a full-time nanny.
10. Once the issue is dealt with, move on: Pack your bags as fast as you can and move on. Start a new life. Go. Quick. Oh, and don't forget your passport (it's probably buried at the bottom of their toy box with a felt-tip beard scrawled on your picture).
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