Parenting Tips You won’t Find in a Book: Part II

Bang.  Bang, bang, bang. Tap. Clack. BANG.

Carlitos, SHHHHHHHH, Xavi is sleeping!

But Mommy, I am playing with my construction toys.

You need to play quieter, please.  Xavi needs his sleep.

Clack. Clack. Tap. BANG.

Carlitos! Do you want me to put on my show instead of Handy Manny?!?!


End scene.

Sometimes, even though I wish I could be a perfect parent, this is what my parenting looks like.  I would go out on a limb and call this ‘real’ parenting…but then it is going to be embarrassing if some other parent comments on here and says, “I would never do that!”   So, just in case you don’t have kids yet and you are still envisioning that they will do everything you say the first time you ask and that you will never raise your voice, here are some tips and strategies on the off chance that you have a day where you don’t have it in you to be perfect.  Although I am sure you would never be as terrible as me and use threats against your children.  (I mean, terrible, horrible, cruel threats like the one above.  As if that kid has any idea what ‘my shows’ are.  He only has five shows he has ever seen and trust me, none of them are ‘mine.’  But just the idea of what my show might be and the fact that it probably doesn’t include a robot that does math or a train that talks is enough to scare him straight.)  And you will probably never give fake reasons, as I suggest in Parenting Tips You Won’t Find in a Book (Part I), either.   Although I suggest you reconsider, because fake reasons also yield fantastic results.

So, another excellent parenting tip I have is to use carrots.  And when I say carrots, I mean cookies.  Or ice-cream.  Or a trip to a toy store.  Or a candy cane.  Almost anything will do as long as your child finds that item or activity exciting.  Whatever it is, just hold it out in front of your child as you attempt to get them to do what you want then to do.  This is actually a rather easy parenting strategy, but you do have to use it sparingly, or else your child will turn into a brat.  Straight up Willy Wonka fodder.  That’s my word of caution.  It’s really best for the ‘I don’t have time to put you in Time Out because the traffic cop is about to give me a ticket if I don’t get downstairs in 3 minutes and I need you to PUT ON YOUR SHOES AND COAT AND GO, BUDDY, GO!’ moments.

The strategy works like this:  When they are whining, complaining, or generally behaving in a way that is unappealing and frankly, unacceptable, you first remind them of how they are supposed to be behaving.  If this doesn’t curb the behavior, you *gently* remind them about the cookie/ice-cream/gigantic ball/trip to Disney World that awaits them…but only if they are ‘good.’  (‘Good’ basically equals ‘listening to Mommy and Daddy.’  More or less.)  Looks like this:

But Mooooooommmmmy, I don’t WANT to wear those shoes!  I want to wear my BEACH SHOES!  I don’t waaaaaaaannnnn –

Carlitos. It is 23 degrees out.  I asked you to put on your Rock Jumping Shoes. (sidenote: Most shoes have alternative names bestowed upon them by the child. I have no idea why normal descriptions do not apply, such as brown, blue and sneakers.)  When Mommy asks you to do something, you do it.  Do you understand me?

But Mooooommmmmyyyyyyyy, I –

Do you want to have that lollipop your Tio bought you or not?

{Feet are in shoes before I can even get to the ‘pop’ in ‘lollipop.’}

End scene.

For advanced learners:  You can actually use a single ‘carrot’ for longer than you might think.  Friends without kids are always the most impressed by this aspect.  “Weren’t you telling him he could have that chocolate chip cookie on Saturday?  It’s Tuesday!”  Ahhh, yes, grasshopper.  Listen carefully.  If you can get them to forget about the item in question at bedtime, it all starts again tomorrow.  Sometimes, he doesn’t end up getting the ‘carrot’ at all.

Oh, don’t look at me like that.  Like he really needs extra sugar or toys.  I think he is juuuuust fine in those departments.  He was the first grandchild AND the first kid of any of our friends.  Nuff said.

For our final lesson of the day, let me give you a trick that makes me seem a little less ‘monster-like.’  We could call this one ‘options.’  See?  It sounds like we live in Park Slope!

Only, we don’t.  So my version of ‘options’ does not include a wide variety of choices, truth be told.  It consists of TWO options.  Always two.  Do not overwhelm a 3-year-old.  It ain’t pretty.  And ‘options’ goes a little something like this…

Carlitos, please get dressed while I finish making breakfast. (See? I am actually not the worst mom in the world.  I totally feed my kids.)

Mommy, I can’t get dressed.  I don’t know how.

That’s not true.  You get yourself dressed all the time.  Just please pick out a shirt and some pants.

{I go in to check and he has picked out  a sleeveless shirt and sweatpants.  For church.  I open his shirt drawer and pull our two long-sleeved shirts.}

You have two options. (Sometimes I substitute the word ‘choices’ for ‘options.’  You know, keep it fresh.)  This one or this one.

I want to wear the blue one.

Great choice.  You are a great dresser, kid.

Bonus Tip:  At any point while trying to maneuver your child toward the most appropriate choice, whether it be behavioral, a shirt, food, etc., the following words are always extremely helpful:

– Special

– Just yours

– Extra special

– Big Boy/Girl

– Super special

Now go run and tell your kids how lucky they are to have you as their parent and how it could be a lot, lot worse.

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6 Responses to Parenting Tips You won’t Find in a Book: Part II

  1. Monica says:

    I would never use bribes to get my kid to behave. Is what I would have said a year before I had kids.

  2. Hahaha! EXACTLY. I hate being ‘that mom’ that is kind of saying ‘Just wait until you have kids! You’ll understand!’ but it is so damn true!!

  3. Nichola says:

    You’re honesty is so refreshing, so REAL, and so dang entertaining! This is coming from someone who doesn’t even have kids (yet)!

  4. Awww, thanks! And coming from someone who genuinely might not ever yell at her kids once you become a mom! 🙂

  5. Carly says:

    Starburst go a long way in our house!

  6. RealMommyChron says:

    Any sour candy works wonders in this household…on my son AND my husband.

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