Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nanny 911

I'm currently reading the Nanny 911 book. We caught an episode of the show when we were on vacation in Victoria a few weeks ago, and it reminded me how those women just seem like miracle workers when it comes to "fixing" families that seem so dysfunctional. I figured they'd probably have some good suggestions to offer for families that, while not that dysfunctional, still have challenges when it comes to child rearing and discipline.

Rachel is extremely bullheaded. She's strong-willed and, when she gets it into her head that a certain thing is happening, she can really flip out when told that it's not going to go down that way. Even when it's something simple like a snack choice or wanting to watch something else on TV, she can have a hard time when she has to change gears from what she has set her mind on. I think that sometimes it's anger over being told no, but I think more often it's frustration with goals that are being thwarted, or that the process of changing gears can be difficult for her.

I've only seen a few episodes of Nanny 911 since watching bratty children and poor parenting isn't something I've wanted to sit through often, even if there's a wonderful transformation that takes place. I've thought before that we could probably pick up some good tips if we watched more often. But I'm getting quite a lot of good information from reading through their book. I don't think they're saying anything earth-shattering, but it's pulling all the commonsense suggestions into one place and one system that I think is so brilliant.

Their childraising method largely depends on communication - the parents talking openly with one another, and the parents learning how to effectively talk with their children. I think we're pretty good communicators with one another, and much of the time with Rachel, but I know that we could always use advice on how to better connect with Rachel so that she's feeling heard and she's also sincerely listening to what we have to say. Half of the battle with her is getting her to hear something when we say it, rather than just tuning us out or saying yes then ignoring what we've asked (or never really hearing it, despite responding as if she had).

The other half is how we respond to her when she's getting herself worked up and becoming more and more disobedient. They have some good suggestions for how to bring things back down when a child is heading towards a tantrum or just being disobedient, and I've been employing some of them. One suggestion is getting down on a child's level to speak with them. It's much less intimidating to them, which makes it easier for them to listen and accept what you have to say, and it shows that you're really listening to them as well. Another is that, when your child is getting upset and raising their voice, you lower yours and keep it calm. You can whisper or speak in a low volume. Most kids will respond by quieting down so that they can hear you. If they're not able to calm down at that point, you put them in their room and let them know you'd like to talk with them when they're ready.

As you can see, they probably aren't sharing anything that's brand-new on its own, but when you look at their game plan and how they put it into play, it really does make sense that it's something that would work for nearly all families. I'm looking forward to reading through the rest and coming up with our House Rules and clear-cut consequences for breaking them. I think Rachel and, later, Ben, will respond well to having an orderly system in place and clearly defined "this is how we do things" for our home.

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