On the recommendation of a wise and trusted momma friend, I'm reading Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman. I'm only on chapter 5 or 6 but here are two nuggets that I've gotten and begun using this week:
1) Don't give them an audience. When your kid is throwing a tantrum, that's fine. Let them have the right to throw that tantrum, but don't allow them to have an audience. Remove them to their room or another isolated location. When they don't have an audience, their tantrum doesn't have any power to influence anyone and no longer serves a purpose for them. I don't like hauling Phoebe all the way upstairs every time she does this so we've been using the laundry room and it works well- amazingly so.
2) Respect their choices enough to let them suffer the consequences. This one is really hard for me. When Phoebe says she's done eating I have to respect that. I can't try to cajole her into eating more or trying this or that, which I have until a day or two ago. I have to say okay and let her hunger be the consequence. If I want her to believe me when I say there will be no more food if she doesn't eat what's in front of her (this is an issue at every eating time for us whether she chooses the food or not as is the case at dinner), I have to stand firm and be consistent to my word with my action. An example of respecting choices with Tabi is bedtime. She's almost 15 months old and perfectly capable of keeping her pacifier in her crib; in fact, she's made a game of throwing it out so that we'll come and give it to her again (we've put up to three in her bed at one time). So now when she chooses to toss her pacifier I have respect her choice to do so and let her suffer the consequence: no pacifier to help her fall asleep.
It's not easy letting my babies suffer the consequences of their choices, but we've tried a lot of things and this makes the most sense to us and actually seems to work. This may seem a little harsh to some of you; but as Dr. Leman points out, where is a safer place than home for your children to fail? Therefore, we let our children make choices and learn from the consequences at home where they are loved irregardless.
Learning to parent sure is difficult. Do your kids give you a run for your money? What works for you?