A crap mum’s top tips

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First, the disclaimer: I find being a parent hard. It doesn’t come easily and I seem to be a slow learner. My kids are nearly 6 and nearly 8 and here are the top tips I wish I’d been quicker to learn:

1. Chocolate is heroin. We managed to keep our eldest unaware of the existence of chocolate and sugary stuff ’til he was about two – and he now likes a wide range of pretty healthy foods. The youngest had sweets much, much younger (by then his elder brother had them occasionally) and if given the choice, little one would now live on a diet of chocolate, sweets and ice- cream.

2. You have to teach them stuff. I know this must sound very dim, but I thought kids would just sort of pick up how to wipe their bottoms, do up buttons, use a knife and fork, tie their shoelaces… I now realise these are things that actually require a bit training.

3. Get them drinking early. Pre-school, establish habit of drinking plenty of water in the early part of the day – because once they go to school you’ve no control. So mine now come home thirsty, drink gallons before bed, and we are in bed-wetting hell.

4. Only threaten consequences you can carry out. The whole thing about bad consequences for bad behaviour and good consequences for good behaviour is great – and works. BUT not if you slip up and make a threat you can’t keep (like cancelling the holiday, throwing a much-loved toy in the bin etc). Next time they won’t believe you, and it takes ages to regain their belief in what you say.

5. They will actually do what you say. If you use the right tone of voice and expression. Be too smiley, vague, or – let’s admit it – pleading in your tone, and they won’t think you’re serious. It’s even easier, if you’re asking them to do something that’s part of a well-established routine, whether it’s washing hands before meals, going to bed, or greeting and saying goodbye to people properly. I’m no Gina Ford, but my boys find it so much easier to comply if they’re expecting the request.

Any suggestions from faster learners, much appreciated!

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