12/04/2018 11:03 BST | Updated 12/04/2018 11:03 BST

How (Not) To Discipline Your Kids

Seven and a half years into my parenting career there is still so much I do not know. I still have so many questions. Questions I’m hoping you lovely readers can help me with. Some are lighthearted enough. For example, when will they stop telling me they’re “just going for a poo, right?”. Seriously, when!? I have visions of Dylan sneaking out of his university lectures to phone home just to inform me that he’s off for a shit.

Yesterday’s question of the day was less lighthearted: ‘why do children steal razors and shave their own heads?’ This led me to the bigger question of, ‘why won’t they just fucking BEHAVE!?’

I’ve been reflecting on the past week of the school holidays and analysing each and every futile desperate technique I use to keep them in line. I thought I’d share them with you and see if you can offer me any tips on what I’m doing wrong. Because yes, I’ve come to the conclusion that I must be doing something wrong. I love the bloody bones of all my boys. But although my eldest two are loving, kind, caring, clever and, let’s face it, funny as fuck, they are also (dare I say it), just a bit more twatty than other kids, you know? 

Technique 1: Bargaining/Bribery

We had the misfortune to stop at a Toby Carvery (the place where dreams go to die) on our way to London last week. Dylan and Jonah had had enough of each other after three hours in close proximity in the car, a fight broke out. Meat was thrown. I know what I should’ve done was fully remonstrate with them for their terrible public behaviour, then take their food away and let them go hungry, but what I actually did was say that if they stopped lobbing the carrots across the room they could have a pudding. Short term win. And I was knackered. Put your judgey face away will you?

Technique 2: Warnings (so many warnings)

I always swore I’d never be one of those parents who made empty threats. And I’m glad to say that I’m not! Nope, when I threaten something, I carry it out... after approximately 17 warnings.

The problem I find with this technique is that it invariably screws me over more than it does the kids. e.g. “If I hear you say butt crack one more time Jonah, you won’t be allowed to go to football.” So, obviously, Jonah does say butt crack again and I have to stand firm and not let him go to football. However now, instead of the glorious hour’s peace I get while they’re both at footy, I have a furious five year old screaming his head off and trashing his bedroom. See? I’ve screwed myself over, haven’t I? Should’ve just let him shout BUTT CRACK to his heart’s content.

Technique 3: Shouting... aka fully losing my shit

This is possibly my most used, yet least effective parenting technique. My favourite time to shout is just before we set off for school in the morning. Or mealtimes actually. Quite a bit of “Get it eaten before I force-feed you” style shouting occurs. The shouting is usually met with raised eyebrows and ‘jeez who rattled her cage’ type of looks. But occasionally, the shouting is met with laughter. Full-on, howling, crying with mirth, clutching their sides laughter. 

It doesn’t seem fair to me that I have to employ all of my techniques, finishing with a full-throttle screaming rant, while some of my friends just have to give their kids ‘the look’, and they stop whatever they were about to do. One of my friends even told me they never had stair gates when their kids were toddlers. “But how are your children still alive?” I enquired. “How did they not tumble to their death within days of learning to crawl?”... “I just told them they weren’t allowed to go near the stairs,” she replied.

WHO ARE THESE CHILDREN? And more importantly, where can I get one (or three)?

Technique 4: Begging

I ummed and ah’d about whether to fess up about this one. I thought I might lose the small amount of kudos I possess by admitting I sometimes beg, plead with my children to behave. This is less a technique, more a response to being at my lowest, most exhausted ebb.

Yesterday, Dylan climbed up to his dad’s cabinet, took a razor and shaved his own head. Realising I could not salvage the situation myself, I piled all three of them into the car and headed off to the barbers. Whilst I stood teary-eyed watching my firstborn receive a ‘zero all over’ resulting in him looking like a fully paid-up member of the English Defence League, Jonah informed me that he had just pumped. And followed through. As I took a peek into his pants to assess the threat level (which was HIGH), Ellis had crawled off into the corner and was licking up the hair of the elderly man who had just vacated the barber’s chair.

I think it’s fair to say my stress levels were elevated.

When we returned home the boys disappeared into ‘the grown-up room’ (don’t hate me cos I’ve got two lounges - I’m not showing off, it’s a mental health necessity) and I began to beg them to leave the room (cream sofas you see). They wouldn’t. So off I went to feed Ellis his lunch. When I returned, they were gone, out in the garden playing football. On the TV was a YouTube video of Cambodian villagers making tunnels out of mud and leaves. Very interesting I’m sure but I really just wanted to watch Loose Women. To cut a long story short I then had to beg them for over half an hour to tell me where they’d hidden the remote, while they rolled round the grass laughing at me, intermittently pretending to be Cambodian villagers.

As I write this it is dawning on me that I am being bullied by a five and seven year old...

So, there you have it… that is me all out of tactics. Any help or advice gladly received. I’ve already rung Childline but apparently it’s only the kids that are allowed to access support from there.

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