A Mormon mom gave me some of the best ideas when it comes to parenting multiple kids.
Kasey Tross is a mother of four children. I had no idea of her existence until I found her on Quora. Someone asked for silly tricks for parenting and she has one of the most voted answers, and she had five great ways to make her kids listen, make amendments and basically, deal with whatever the day throws at them.
Kasey’s 5 parenting tips for 1 to multiple children
1. To stop annoying begging: Asked and Answered.
This is a common phrase said by lawyers in courtrooms, usually as part of an objection. The idea is that if a question has been asked and answered, it should not be asked again. My kids ask me, “Mom, can we pleeease go to Target?” and I say, “Yes, but not today. We’ll have time tomorrow.” Then they say, “But pleeeease? I really want to get this new [fill in the blank]!” I say, “Asked and answered.” If they ask again, I just repeat it: asked and answered. They know it’s pointless to try to get me to give another answer.
2. To settle fights: Mediate them with praise.
Tommy: “Mom, she won’t give me a turn with the truck!”
Caroline: “It’s my turn! You already played with it forever!”
Me: “Tommy, Caroline is really good at sharing. In fact, she’s one of the kindest, most giving children I know. And you’re really good at asking nicely for things. People just love how nicely you can ask for things. I’ll bet if you asked Caroline nicely, she’d be happy to share with you.”
Tommy: “Caroline, may I pretty please have a turn playing with the truck? I won’t keep it long, I promise.”
Caroline: “Of course, Tommy. Here you go.”
Kids are so flattered by your kind words (whether they’re true or not) that they’ll immediately want to live up to them.
3. To get kids to settle their own fights: The fighting bench.
When my kids start fighting, I put them on the “fighting bench”, or, in our case, the fireplace hearth. I tell them they can’t get up until they can tell me what their part was in the argument. They then have to apologize to the other child for what they did and come tell me when it’s all resolved. I love this method because it forces kids to take responsibility for their own actions. Also, they really hate having to sit there with each other, so they’re eager to admit their fault and get it over with already. It takes two to tango!
4. Stop a fight before it starts.
Whenever you notice a pattern to fighting, whenever kids are always fighting over the same things, like where to sit in the car, or whose turn it is to shower first, or whatever- just lay down the law. On odd days, Mike gets to sit in the front seat; on even days Julie does. Period. Showers go youngest to oldest. Period. If you were the last one to use the item, you have to put it away, even if you didn’t get it out. Period. No discussion.
When there’s no room for argument, nobody argues.
5. Let kids be bored.
Whenever I notice my kids spending just a little too much time on screens (and it making them a little too cranky) I schedule a screen-free day. Yes, everyone complains, and yes, it can be inconvenient, but it’s so good for them. The last time I did it, I found my son lying on the floor of the living room staring at the ceiling. I asked him what he was doing and he said, “Planning my next Lego project.” (He’s a TFoL- Teen Fan of Lego- he basically uses them to create art.) Then he jumped up very suddenly and exclaimed, “I’ve got it!” and ran upstairs to his room.
Finally, as an extra token of appreciation for you to read all of this post, I am going to give you my latest parenting trick to deal with my kiddo’s annoying tendency of slamming her bedroom door.
6. Stop the door slamming.
Whenever she feels upset with me or my husband, or she knows she needs to cool off, she tends to close her bedroom door with more strength than necessary. After she did it once again, I entered her room behind her and told her “I understand you are upset but doors are not here to be slammed. If you slam it again, I will remove it indefinitely”.
She couldn’t believe my words and got even more upset. I simply told her: “Look, you still have your bathroom where you can change your clothes, but if you can’t handle having a door, I won’t lend it to you anymore”. I guess she got the feeling I was being very serious about it because even when she gets extremely grouchy and upset with us, she is not slamming the door anymore. Talk about a taking away something a tween really appreciate, such as the privacy of her room!
As you know, I have one daughter and I find parenting her an extreme sport. So I am finding ways to apply some of these tips with her, even if sometimes I have to be the one who sits with her on “the fighting bench” and we both have to take responsibility for our part on the problem.