So here is where we pick up on guilt again! I haven’t seen my kids all day and then I must hear from the teacher or even worse be subjected to their misbehaving. The last thing in the world I feel like doing is ending our day with a battle of the wills. What is the alternative though?

Let them carry on behaving like hooligans tonight and then deal with it when I’m well rested?

I don’t think so!!! I’ve learnt that there is no better time than the present, hard or tiring as it may be.

My kids are master manipulators!!! They know how to pick a fight and turn mommy and daddy against one another and then stand back and watch the drama play out. Luckily we figured it out very early on and agreed to have one another’s backs whenever an attack is likely to strike. We can debrief (read disagree) about it afterwards.

The kids’ war plan when parents are not in the same room:

  1. Commit offense.
  2. Deny committing the offense or blame it on your sibling.
  3. Start yelling and back chatting parent trying to discipline.
  4. Parent loses it and raises his/her voice so that the other parent can hear.
  5. Offender runs to the parent not in the room and tells him/her that mommy/daddy is in a terrible mood and is yelling at him/her for no reason.
  6. Previously: Non-disciplining parent runs up to the disciplining parent asking what on earth the commotion is about. Tone it down! You should never yell at kids! All the books say so!
  7. The enemy ignites a fight between the parents!
  8. Offender and sibling stand around with a smirk watching as the attention is being diverted from the actual crime.

Parents’ war plan!:

Repeat steps 1) – 5)

  1. Non-disciplining parent tells offender that the disciplining parent would not yell for no reason and that the offender should apologise.
  2. Offender show his/her lack of satisfaction with the situation by running to his/her room and slamming the door, while hollering about life being unfair.
  3. Parent tells offender that they cannot come out until they apologise. Family areas in the house must be a nice place to be for all of us.
  4. 10 – 15 mins later a very soft and shy: “I’m sorry…” (It took my daughter an hour in the beginning)
  5. Parent: “Why are you sorry? What did you do wrong?”
  6. Offender admits to offence and all is forgiven!!!! (the offender can sometimes not ‘remember’ what they did wrong and is sent back to his/her room to go and think about it and jostle their memory – this is just an extra step in the plan. It does on occasion revert to step number 7 but then 8,9,10 follows again until 11 is achieved!)

Note: The plan may backfire when the kids are having fun in their room and forget that they are being punished. I promise they do want to come out again at some stage!

Even though you don’t feel like it every day, consistency has proven to be the key with kids! They feel safe when boundaries are set! Mom and Dad acting as a team, deflates them but also provides a great deal of security. Even when Mom and Dad aren’t living in the same house any longer, having one another’s backs make kids feel like they are existing in a non-toxic environment.

Each child is different. We have tried a number of methods for punishment some of which would work on the one and not the other. I remember while my daughter was still 4, and I saw on a Super Nanny TV show that I needed to put her in time out for the number of minutes equal to her age. I placed her on a chair facing the corner in our living room. After what felt like a lifetime, I told her she could come out. Her response: “I’m not ready to come out yet!” Daughter 1 Mommy 0! This demonstrated the need for creativity and flexibility!

We have tried taking away privileges like watching TV or any other screen time, not allowing a friend to come over or having to go to bed without a story. Although these things have annoyed them, none of them worked. They both love entertaining themselves and their best toy is their imagination. One cannot quite take that away!

We have now started counting in Rands. For every count that they don’t listen, we deduct R1 from their pocket money! So far so good!

Find that method that works with your little one, and then just apply it consistently!

In the case of child rearing it is definitely not Divide and Conquer but Join Forces and Defeat!!!


Cheers and chin up!





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