If you’ve been at the mercy of your child’s embarrassing tantrums in public, mothers Jasmine Han and Shelly Holly understand perfectly what it’s like. In their book, I’m Not Perfect. I’m A Mom, they take a funny and reassuring look at how to be a great mother, even if you’re not perfect (and that’s most of us, right?).
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2 / 7 Is “timeout” or the “naughty stool” a good way to help my child reflect, so they learn from a mistake?Load more
Jasmine: Honestly, I’m not sure. Timeouts work best on very young kids, like toddlers, as they do not like being away from their parents.
Can a kid that young ‘reflect’ on bad behaviour during a timeout? Possibly not. But it does offer parent and child a quiet moment to calm down, and that helps.
Your timeout location should be a quiet, boring, safe place. Place the ‘naughty stool’ there. Issue a minute of timeout for each year of age, so a three-year-old gets three minutes of timeout.
Related: How to use time-out on toddler
3 / 7 It’s embarrassing to discipline my child in public. Are there any tips?Load more
Shelly: You don’t have to raise your voice. A hushed, low, serious tone sends the same message. In my family, whether we’re out or at home, a tap on the hand and a ‘death stare’ from me is usually enough.
When they throw tantrums, I do not bother to distract or negotiate with them as they are too wrapped up in their emotions to hear me. And why reward their bad behavior? Usually, I ignore the drama or take them to a private corner to cool off.
4 / 7 Unless I give in to his demands in a shop, my preschooler will not calm down. Nothing can stop him from going hysterical.Load more
Shelly: It is hard… but it is important not to give in mid-meltdown. Kids will work out that throwing tantrums will not get them what they want. I have carried my son home from school while he kicked, screamed and hit me all the way.
When we arrived home, I put him on the floor and waited 30 minutes for him to calm down. You cannot ‘manage’ all tantrums. Sometimes, you just have to wait them out.
Related: 3 ways to tame your child’s temper
5 / 7 Older relatives warn me that I will spoil my child if I spare the rod. Others say caning a kid simply teaches him to use violence.Load more
Jasmine: Caning a child merely makes him obey immediately out of fear, but not because he’s realised his mistake. Having said that, my generation of kids in Asia got the cane, smack, or ruler when we deserved it, and we turned out okay.
What really troubles me are parents who spank their kids because they are unable to control their own anger. Sometimes, it is the adults who need a timeout.
6 / 7 My 10-year-old doesn’t react well to a timeout. She stays mad for days and I end up having to take the first step to ment the relationship. What should I do?Load more
Shelly: Timeouts only work on younger kids and toddlers – because they dislike being away from a parent. For older kids, removing privileges works better, like taking away TV time in the evening, or not allowing the use of the iPad.
This discipline technique works best if the privilege relates to the behaviour and it is something the child values. With this, you can expect her to take the initiative to make good with you, instead of the other way around.
7 / 7 I often praise my five-year-old for doing something good. Will she get too complacenet and expect to be rewarded all the time?Load more
Jasmine: You can motivate good behaviour with reward, but the reward needs to be logically connected to the behaviour. So, giving her chocolate for tidying her toom is not as useful as allowing her to watch some TV and relax after she puts her toys away.
But the best way is to tell her how proud you are that she’s chosen to be helpful. Tell her: “You’ve put away your toys so nicely. You’ve done such a wonderful job keeping your room neat and that helps Mummy too. So, thank you!”
Related: 9 ways to praise your kid