A morning with a child behaviourist was not quite what I imagined doing last Friday. But when I heard the expert, Simon Mathias, was talking to a group of parents at Pythouse Cafe (which probably serves some of the best coffee in the area) I thought I’d go along.
Admittedly, I was nervous as I was being accompanied by my two-year-old and the thought of him sitting through a 2 hour parental debate on toddler to teen trouble, was a little daunting. Thankfully, in true Pythouse style, the whole morning was very relaxed and informal which enabled mothers to ask a range of very frank questions, whilst fuelling their small children with chocolate brownies and pear juice.
Here are a few things I took away with me:
The use of rewards to encourage behaviour. For example, “If you get in the car nicely then I’ll give you a treat.” Simon told us that we have to match the reward with what they are doing and say, “If you get in the car nicely then I will give you a piece of chocolate today.”
How to Deal with Feisty Behaviour and losing one’s temper. Simon posed a questions to us. “Would you get angry with a child if he/she:
a) constantly kicked the furniture even though they’d been asked not to several times? or
b) ran out in the road and narrowly missed being hit by a car?
We opted for incident ‘a’ – particularly if the child persistently ignored what we asked them to do. However, in the event of incident ‘b’ we’d wrap our arms around the child and check they were ok. Simon said that psychologists would say the opposite. In fact we would be hugging the child for our own benefit – we should in fact get more angry over incident ‘b’,because it put the child in danger, rather than ‘a’. Easier said than done though.
Finally, research shows that children communicate more through technology than face to face, which is why cyber bullying is increasing, where children find it easy to be mean over the internet. As a parent, this really worries me.
The discussion continued but I could see that my toddler was definitely tiring of the debate, so we decided to make a quick exit. As is always the case when you visit Pythouse though, you’re tempted to many things from the shop on the way out. On this occasion, the toddler and I treated ourselves to a couple of brightly coloured Zulu baskets which have just arrived in the shop.
We also popped in on Daisy and Kim as we left who were merrily painting their new shop – a very large shed in the corner of Pythouse’s Walled Garden.
My toddler and I left sugar and caffeine-fuelled, armed with baskets and lots of parenting tips.