I thought I would write this post, because I wonder sometimes, whether I am a ‘normal’ parent, not that ‘normal’ is a word I like, but I am just wondering whether you ‘parent’ your children in a similar way to me, or whether you yourself feel like an ‘odd’ parent. I’ll give you some examples of how I have and am bringing up my children, and you can tell me whether you think I am mean, normal, or just plain barmy!
My personal parenting ‘tips’.
I ALWAYS mean what I say. This first tip explains the odd title, and random picture of some salad cream! I think this is really important, as if your children don’t believe you when you say ‘If you don’t stop that I will….’, then believe me they will carry on fighting, poking things they shouldn’t, or pouring a box of cereals all over the floor etc etc!
A few years ago, my eldest son had a lovely habit of repeating everything that I said, and finally having enough I threatened off the top of my head to ‘salad cream’ him if he didn’t stop. Now believe me, this is not something I routinely do to people, and nor do I have a clue why that popped into my head, other than it was tea time and the said bottle was right there.
Anyway, my son decided to ignore my warning, and so he ended up wearing a huge dollop of salad cream on his head. Funnily enough, he has never once ‘parroted’ me again, and neither has his observing brother.
In the same respect though, I always mean what I say when I promise them a treat later in the week, promise to do an activity with them, play a game with them, and other fun stuff. My children know they can rely on what I say, and I do feel our household is happier and more secure in ourselves for it.
Be consistent. This is another one that I feel is important, especially when you have more than one child! For example, I don’t tell one child off for doing something, but let the other child get away with it a few days later. Believe me, on the rare occasion when I have does this by accident, I am soon put right and in my place! This also counts for treats, food and presents though, I try to make sure that no one is ever overlooked.
In our house with my eldest having Type 1 Diabetes he needs extra snacks through the day, and when they are both at home, my youngest is allowed to have these extra snacks as well. This is kind of a reward for the fact that my youngest is brilliant about his brothers diabetes, and doesn’t moan that they never usually just randomly eat sweets like other children.
Obviously my children do eat sweets, but they’re normally saved until meal times to save my eldest having to have an extra injection, as four a day is more than enough for anyone!
Let them get dirty. This one I think is important for any child. Half the fun of being a child is not caring what anyone thinks about how you look, jumping in muddy puddles (thanks for that one Peppa Pig!), playing in the woods, rolling down hills, and generally doing mucky crazy things. I have always loved painting and making things with my children, and yes it makes a mess, but they love it and I love them so whats a bit of mess compared to that?
Make them try new things. I was ridiculously fussy about food as a child, and refused to try all sorts of food, and I was always determined that my children would not be the same. As an adult, there is not a lot of food that I don’t like, and even those that I don’t I try in different ways to see if I can find a way to get my taste buds to make friends with it!
Where my children are concerned, I force them to eat things that they don’t like. In honesty, especially with one of my sons, if I didn’t do this, then we would never eat as a family. I refuse to make three different meals for the four of us.
We have had tears over the years about this, and meals that have lasted for way longer than they should due a Mexican stand-off between us, but some of my children’s favourite foods now are food that they refused at first to try, or claimed after one bite not to like.
There is always though the promise of dessert at tea time as an incentive, and yes I am mean and they don’t get any dessert if their plate is not empty. I do though allow them to tell me before the meal, how hungry they are and roughly what size portion they could manage.
On a little ‘mean’ Mum note, once my youngest kept adding to his plate when we had a chinese takeaway, and I told him “If you don’t eat everything on that plate, you will have to eat one of my garlic mushrooms” . He didn’t even eat half of his plate, he HATES mushrooms with a passion, and in his words they ‘looked like slugs’, and if you have read my first parenting tip you will know where this is going… Yes I was THAT mean, or was I?, would you do similar with your own children?
By try new things, I also mean activities and experiences! I was a bit shy at times as a small child, hard to believe now I know! Being shy meant I held back from joining in with anything that might have involved people looking at me, or having to speak to people, and I only overcame this by forcing myself to do these things that scared me, and I have had a much better life since because of this!
I even got up on stage for a leading part in a play at the end of my primary school time, and this was a massive step for me. With my own children I encourage them to get involved, to do after school clubs and be in school teams, to chat to random children when we are out for the day, and I often make them order their own food in restaurants, and all of these things mean that they are much more confident and outgoing than I was at their ages!
Don’t let diabetes be an excuse. Obviously this tip will only apply to a small proportion of you, but it’s always been an important one in our house, especially when my diabetic eldest son was younger. My son was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of 5, and whilst yes sometimes it can affect his moods, and his behaviour, I don’t see it as a good enough excuse to excuse really bad behaviour.
An example of this is that when he was younger he used to hit his younger brother and then say to me “I think it’s because I’m low”, or “I think I did it because I’m high” (his blood glucose NOT recreation drugs!), or at times as I was about to tell him off “I wish I wasn’t diabetic”.
The majority of the time that he said the first two, he wasn’t, he was just grasping at straws to get out of trouble, and the third one he was trying to get me on his side and give him attention and sympathy. Obviously at other times when he has said “I wish I wasn’t diabetic” he has had this from me, although mostly a speech from me on why it could be so much worse, but when he used it as a ploy (children really are the most manipulative creatures!) to get out of trouble, it had zero affect on me.
I have been to charity events for diabetes, where I have witnessed first hand the small proportion of Type 1 parents who do give in all the time for their children because they feel ‘sorry’ for them, and I have witnessed these children behaving appallingly, whilst their parents sit there looking rather bewildered.
I do not want to bring my child up thinking that his diabetes is an excuse for ANYTHING. It’s a condition he always has to deal with, but it’s not who he is, and it won’t ever stop him from doing anything, as I won’t let it, and hopefully I am bringing him up in a way that he won’t either! Phew….sorry about the diabetes rant, as Si usually calls it, but you get the picture!
Be honest. I have the policy with my children, that if they ask a question they get an honest answer with age appropriate content! I want my children to grow up knowing that they can trust me, but also to not be too naïve of the facts of life, and the world we live in. My eldest was not a great one for asking questions, but his younger brother has more than made up for that!
We have had conversations about how babies are made, where they come out (youngest apologised for hurting me *cute*), what drugs are, what you should and shouldn’t share on the internet and why, and pretty much every topic under the sun that I am sure a lot of parents would find awkward.
I didn’t want my children to lose their ‘innocence’, and they haven’t really, it’s just that they are as prepared for life as I can make them, and surely as parents this is our ultimate job and aim! Do you agree?
Be silly. Reading my other tips you might think that I am a mean parent, or am overly strict and no fun, but that’s only a part of my parenting! I do think it’s important that a parent is a ‘parent’ and not just your child’s ‘best friend’. My children need telling off sometimes, they need rules so that they know where they stand, and to help make them into lovely adults, but at the same time I have a LOT of fun with them.
I do stupid silly things like calling them out of their bedroom, then hiding by their door to jump out at them! I play games with them, I watch horrendous children’s tv or films with them, I have tickle fights with them, I make things like puppet shows with them, I read books in funny voices to them, I go down slides and rides on days out with them, and I am always there for them.
I definitely think it’s important to have fun with your children and be silly with them, and basically just enjoy them, childhood doesn’t last for ever!
Please do comment with your own ‘parenting tips’ or just to let me know if you would ‘salad cream’ your own child?!
If you liked this post, then you may also want to read another of my parenting posts, ‘Why Everyone Hates Me‘ .
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