When I first had a child, I read the important books, like “What to Expect the First Year” and I subscribed to several parenting magazines. I was warned, often, to use the word “no” judiciously. When Meg was little, I was very aware of how often I said no to her. I tried using other ways of telling her not to do something, without using the word no as often as I felt I should. Redirecting her worked well for some things, but not all of them. I stuck to the same tact with Drew, figuring that I could adjust as the situations arose.
Now that I have Annie and Izzie and they’re in the “curious” stage, I am finding myself out of options. They do not do well with being redirected; they find it to be a game. If I remove them from the couch during a game of “bad baby” (which is the game where one of them yells baby baby and the climb on the furniture and run on it), the immediately get back up on the couch. It is a scenario I repeat about a gazillion times a day. They are too little for a timeout. They are like little firecrackers, always going off somewhere and getting them to stay seated in anything other than their highchairs is a challenge.
So I have become friendly with the word “no”. Maybe friendly isn’t the word. I say no all damn day long. And guess what? That doesn’t work either. I spend my days saying the same things over and over, and nothing changes. I have to say the kids’ names a million times just to get their attention. When I do speak to them, I can actually see what I’m saying going in one ear and out the other. If they could all read, I would just hold up placards with the most commonly used phrases and force them to stop what they are doing and read what it is I wanted to say. My mom told me she saw a segment on the Today show that said that it takes 21 days to get a child to change behavior. I’ve been trying to change behavior with Meg for 4 years. I am thinking I must be doing something wrong.
I always thought I would make a good parent. These days though, I am finding that not being able to discipline my children properly makes me question my abilities. I have set rules that absolutely do not get followed. I should take a photo of my rule/chore chart that is posted in the kitchen and post it here sometime. Timeouts do not work; the kids put up such a stink that timeouts don’t stop the bad behavior, but instead become a frustrating mess. My kids throw toys, they hit each other, they take toys from each other. And nothing, not the word no, nothing stops them. I don’t feel like a good parent at all.