Tuesday, 12 March 2013

When Simple Becomes Tough

Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Though veering a bit from the topic (as my kids are too young for tough conversations), I felt compelled to write this excerpt.
It started with a simple gentle request to do or not to do something, which then became the object of obsession for my two year old toddler, disobedient and defiant; the little angel started acting like a little devil – staring eyes, gaping mouth, hands thrown back in an obstinate manner or throwing herself on the ground refusing to budge. Discontent with the toys, always wanting something else, and starting to tell the grown-ups how, when, and where to do things and telling little non-truths. Oh no, I was very very troubled.
With the natural parenting approach I tend to be relatively gentle and un-authoritarian. However, this problem was getting out of hand and I didn’t want to see my lovely little ones turn bad. I tried everyone’s advice to no avail. Negative attention was still attention and weirdly my little one seemed to thrive on it.
So I did some research and found a remarkable simple way to deal with these problems in a paper by Marilyn Adams called ‘Solutions to Oppositional Defiant Disorder’ (http://www.guidancefacilitators.com/odds.html).
My version of her work is:
Avoid conflict:
·         Do not engage in long arguments or explanations;
·         You decide the outcome and calmly stick to it.
Use effective consequences:
·         Focus only on consequences that do not require a child’s cooperation. For example taking a toy away or not reading a book to the child (this works well for me) if she continues to do naughty things.
Another example, when it is time for little one to have an early afternoon nap, I put her to bed. I would sing her a lullaby and bide her sleep well.  She would throw her toy out and scream that  she needs it back, wee in her nappy and then demand a clean one (three times in a row???), demand that she needed to go on the potty (even though she just went before going to bed), insist that she’s hungry, need drink (just after lunch)... the list goes on. Frustrating to say the least.
Now I sing her a song, kiss her goodnight, and go about my business. She still babbles with her sleeping companion toys for a little while (which I think is fine), but settles much quicker and sleeps really well. She has much less nightmares and is generally happier. Any parents who are confronted with these kinds of problems would undoubtedly benefit reading the paper that helped me. Here’s the link (http://www.guidancefacilitators.com/odds.html).
Now I can be reassured and happy because things are getting much better. The photo included is a very young horse with the same behaviour as my toddler. He too threw himself on the ground and refused to budge while being tied to a post (a problem across species!) - thankfully a trainable challenge.

Oppositional defiance in a young horse


  1. I'm glad you figured out the best ways for dealing with the behavior while still honoring your child. I find I need confidence in what I'm choosing as the parent if my kids are going to pick up on it and follow through.

  2. Nap time can easily become a tough conversation ;) much like you discovered, I find that when children are very tired, setting a limit and holding it, firmly but while being kind works much better than trying to negotiate in that moment when sleep/napping is really needed.

  3. I appreciate you sharing your gentle strategies for dealing with the struggles your wee one was facing. Having a plan and being consistent is half the battle.

  4. If you're still open to books, I really love the Your Two Year Old by Louise Bates Ames and even moreso The Emotional Life of the Toddler by Alicia Lieberman. It really helped me figure out that my 2yo wasn't intentionally defiant, but that he was in the process of developing inner control, and he needed my loving guidance along the way.

  5. It's interesting to think about discipline from the perspective of natural parenting. While I consider myself a natural parent, I'm also potentially more strict than some, using what you might call an 'authoritative' approach rather than authoritarian. My kids know I am in charge, but I am open to their suggestions and listen to their concerns, so they also know they'll never get a "Because I said so!" reply. I agree with Dionna that understanding the difference between developing control and being defiant is helpful for empathy. It sounds like you got over the hump, so good for you!

  6. Thanks so much for all your replies! I still haven't recieved the carnival blurb to include to the post.

    1. I sent it to your hnimble address. Hope you got it now! :)

  7. Thanks so much Lauren - Got it! And yes, it was in my spam folder!

  8. Patience, patience, patience. Toddlers are full of uncommunicable emotions. Keep at it!