Hi Cathy, I have nearly finished Happy Kids and am intrigued that some of the psychology and strategies you use are similar to the ones I used when I trained my puppy, although I never had the problem of him rushing to answer the phone! My children are proving a bit harder to train and I have struggled with finding something to use as a sanction. The sanction which has worked with my 4 year old son is his bike. I took it off him the other day and put into the garage. Initially I told him I would take it from him for 10 minutes when he was misbehaving but he kicked me so I told him it was gone for the rest of the day. Then he called me a “dick head” so it was gone for the rest of the next day. I know it’s only supposed to be 10 minutes each time but he was out of control and extremely abusive. However, having put the bike away, I had nothing to use as a sanction for the next day. When I asked him to have time out he refused and followed me everywhere, aggressively calling me names. Also, My 12 year old daughter has become fussy with food and now refuses to eat beef. She is a real animal lover I think this may have something to do with it. I am using the 3Rs with her but she can be stubborn and controlling and pushes me as far as she can. She does not like giving in and always has to have the last word. For example, I told her to go to her room, and she refused. So I told her if she didn’t do as I said I would take 20p off her pocket money. Have you any ideas? Thanks,
CG: Hi Catriona. It has been said by some psychologists that training young children and puppies is very similar. It sounds to me that you are doing a good job; persevere with your strategies. It is early days yet. In respect of your 4 year old son, putting the bike away for the whole of the first day was right, however, I would suggest bringing it out first thing the following day. As soon as he is awake (before the chance of any negative behaviour), make a big thing about getting the bike out and that he will be able to play with it. Ideally take him with you to get the bike out, or be with him when he gets the bike out, or let him see you get the bike out. By doing this he will feel he has a fresh start to the day and that he really wants to keep his bike for the day and the only way to do this is by being good. Of course, by reinstating the bike you can use it as a sanction again, if necessary. In respect of ‘time out’ you did right in removing yourself from the room as he wouldn’t go to his room to allow a cooling off period. If he follows you try to go somewhere he can’t follow you. Toilet maybe? Re the name calling. If he persisted and it was more than a burst of anger then I would impose another sanction e.g. loss of TV time. In respect of your 12 year old daughter. Many girls give up meat temporarily when they realise where it has come from – i.e. live cuddly animals. One of my daughters did and I did at a similar age, although my daughter ate sausages because they didn’t look like meat! As long as she is eating a healthy diet I wouldn’t make an issue of it. In fact, the least said, the soonest mended. I would make no comment but simply serve something different. There are a lot of alternatives to meat, and ready made meals that don’t use meat. Re her behaviour, yes, at her age stopping pocket money in small chunks is a suitable sanction. Keep going and let me know how you get on. Best wishes Cathy.