Like all busy moms, I’m constantly looking for new quick-fix parenting tips. So when a book I’d never encountered before caught my eye over on Cool Mom Picks, I went straight to the author’s site to check it/her out.
The title of the book grabbed me: “You’re Not the Boss of Me: Brat-Proofing Your 4- to 12-Year-Old Child,” by Betsy Brown Braun. Mmm, hmmm. I’m listening…. (Her other parenting book has an equally-grabby title: “Just Tell Me What to Say.” Yes, please do!)
She has some great tips on her site — all very relevant to life with a 4- and a 6-year-old — and I’m putting them into immediate use. They also made me want to pick up a copy of the book.
These are the tips — answers to frequently-asked parenting questions — that stood out to me (I’m paraphrasing and condensing her answers, read the full list of tips here):
How do I get my kid to listen to me?
Listening’s not the problem — the problem is that your child isn’t doing what you want him to. Position yourself right in front of your child, not across the room. State what you want your kid to do, be clear and specific, and explain what the consequences are for non-compliance. Give him one warning and then a moment to cooperate. If he doesn’t, throw down the punishment. Repeated, empty threats create children who don’t listen. (Now if only I could get Braun‘s take on something that happened OUTSIDE this morning with Magnolia, where she was far away from me and any attempt to put myself in front of her would have met with her moving on up the block…. Anyway, moving on….)
How do I get my kids to stop fighting? (As an only child, I don’t get the sibling rivalry thing, which is too bad for me, ’cause there’s a lot of it happening at my house at the moment…. And more to come, I’m sure.)
Fighting’s not always a bad thing, it helps them learn to resolve conflict. It is, however, annoying to parents. If your kids are over the age of 3, leave the room. Remove yourself from the situation and let them figure out a resolution on their own. (Physical fighting is a different thing — this strategy is for everyday, run-of-the-mill sibling skirmishes.)
How do I get my kids to eat something healthy?
Don’t fight about food! Let it go. You cannot control what your child eats. Ending the battle over food consumption gives your child permission to eat on his own terms — and that is often what he wants…control. So just don’t fight. Serve the food you’ve cooked and if your child chooses refuses to eat, let him. (But there is no getting food later if he’s hungry — it’s eat at mealtime, or nothing. Here are more tips on dealing with picky eaters.)
Don’t bother with time outs. (I was happy to read this one — we haven’t found them all that effective with our kids.)
A time out will stop a behavior, but only temporarily — and it isn’t specific to whatever the bad behavior is. Try to come up with logical consequences that fit the infraction — that will help your child get it. Time outs are really for parents — to give you a chance to calm down. But your kids don’t learn from them.
As CMP said, all very no-nonsense. I don’t know that I think it’s possible to completely brat-proof my kids, but I’m all for trying — with a little, or a lot, of help from some experts.
Get other great parenting and kid book recs from Cool Mom Picks.