How to mess up your kids

How to mess up your kids

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I was shopping around, enjoying my “buy everything except what you came for” method, when a kid, not older than 3, who was running around, came in front of me grabbing fast a tomato and dropping it on the floor.

It was then when I thought the world is ending. It started with the parent screaming “why don’t you look at what you’re doing?!” followed by a firm hand grip and a devil look, pulling the kid like a mop. Honestly? I was scared to drop my tomatoes. You would say what a messed up kid but have you looked at the mother?

First years of his life, a kid will not have logic in his thoughts and actions. It is our responsibility to provide guidance in order to avoid a mess. There are so many ways to mess up your kids. One would be enough but that lady might smack me too, so I remind you of few more.

Finger Pointing

Every time you’re pointing to someone, three of your fingers are pointed back to you.  Does that mean when pointing to your kid, the real matter is pointed to you? Pretty much.

What you can do: Talk and wait. Have anything to say to your child? Don’t speak from the podium. He will hear you but he won’t understand a word.  Try speak at the same physical level and understand his actions. If he is acting out, what would work is removing the adverse stimuli (it will help to cut the distraction and prepare him to really listen to you) and then talk firmly but with care and wait for the storm to go away. If you are in a closed area, take him out, use the “talk and wait” method, giving him a chance to cool down and letting him know you still love him. It does not matter how long you will wait. Trust me, the more you practice the sooner the kid will understand the boundaries.

The big “If”

“If you eat your peas, you get your iPad”. For every If followed by a reward, your kid will only think of the reward, and his frustration will easily grow.

What you can do

Replace IF with AFTER and with removing those peas. Nobody likes them. Sorry. But if you really want your kid to eat what you think is good for his health, add aside something that he already likes and start with a small portion.  That will do.

If he does not want to leave the park, does not want to do his homework or keeps playing on his iPad, for everything Preparation is the key. Let him know he has 10 minutes left and tell him you understand his feelings. Use a timer. Let him hear the alarm and put a smile, it helps. It won’t work from the beginning because every child needs to feel you mean what you say. And he also needs to explore his will, and he will do that by testing you a lot.

Timeout chair?


No, it does not work. Trust me. And it’s not the sitting that is the matter. It’s how you call it. Time. Out. Chair.

Even I freaked out while typing this. Does that mean his dinosaurs can’t sit there anymore? What about her cups and the playdough? No?

What if you sit on a chair for every mistake you’ve done?

A child will feel scared (especially if you use your pointer finger), sad, confused because he needs your guidance to make sense of his behavior, and further on he will create resistance to your idea of a punishment (seen as indifference) and no wonder why you will eventually say “Why it does not work???”

Even if you are well intended, the idea of fixing the matter is so wrongly shaped that in fact, it will lead to more problems and when your child will get up from that chair, the chances of him coming back to it are big. Like your ass.

What you can do

The reality is that when kids are sent to the timeout chair, for most of the cases they don’t even know why they’re being sent there. What did they do? What could work better?

You can still have him sit on the chair but as a time to calm down. Stay with him for a while if you have to. Tell him in advance the reason and how you feel about it. He will know you are upset but he will still feel loved. Give him minutes not more than the number of his years. And please don’t call it Timeout Chair. Adults understand the meaning but children see it as a punishment.

A punishment will only increase the guilt or even worse, the shame. And if you can eliminate the feeling of guilt, it is way harder if not impossible when it comes to shame, that is why a child needs a firm but friendly talk. Of course, you won’t have this patience when your child screams while you drive, but how about preparation and a short reminder of the consequences?

Instead of trying to shut him down with the “you’ll get in trouble” so used sentence, how about involving him in whatever you are doing? “I need your help while I’m driving so I can drive safely, shall we check the traffic light together?” and so on.

Also throwing an iPad in your kid’s arms while driving or having lunch will not help, it will only isolate the child, with you avoiding the real problem for a while and that will have negative results in the future. Mark my words.


Your child does something interesting and you like it. You call him “good boy” or immediately say it is a nice work. There is a chance that next time your child does something he will feel confused about the results until he will receive validation from you. How can you build up his confidence?

What you can do

Have him involved in activities and ask his opinion before giving him one. He will build up confidence and he won’t need your validation every time he creates something. Therefore there will be a difference between validation and feedback.

Obedience or Communication?

Obey, obey and obey! How lovely that sounds. Makes the child really bark and jump around you.

What you can do

You think your child doesn’t listen, don’t worry, he is. In fact, he listens all the time, with his two little ears. What should worry you is what he is listening to. If you consider that you can’t be calm all the time, you are right. Nobody is. And your child will learn that too. But if by the end of the day you have not solved your issues with your kid, there is a risk he will develop indifference, silence or worse, respond to an issue in a similar way like his parent. Because like it or not, you are his first model and yes, he learns from you. All the time. And it’s your responsibility to understand his time and make it valuable.


Screaming, finger mining in the golden nose,  grabbing, showing his ninja skills in the shop, having all the floor for himself, seeing yes in any no, and the list can go on. Again you are tempted to go back to that sweet Time Out Chair. You or the child? Well, it does not matter. You should know by now it won’t work. It never will. Punishments never work for long term and they don’t address the real problem.

What you can do

You want your child to be mannered 24/24? Well, sorry to ruin your hopes but nobody is mannered at all times, including you. But we could do something with that time between mornings and evenings.

These small fluffy creatures (annoying at times but so do you), could use some manners. And this comes again back to you. Your child will not say any word you want or act in any way you want unless he sees that practiced and done by you. Yes. Education is a boomerang. You give something to your child and that will come back to you. There are exceptions, of course. You being mannered won’t guarantee same from your child all the time. But that is the beauty of parenting and growth. Trying with patience. Over and over again. It will make your hair whiter though, but it worth.

School time vs home time

You’re at work. You did something wrong and you’re sent to The Time Out Chair. After some minutes, you’re back to “your thing”. When you need some support with your work, your boss (such a lovely, friendly name for a leader) is rushing you and you feel there is no communication. When you arrive home, your partner is asking you if you behaved at work, treated your colleagues “nice” and if you ate all from your lunch box. Hold on! This can’t be real. No? What about your child’s reality?

What you can do:

When your child comes home, what he wants the most is a shift. He is home now. So help your child feel home by talking about anything but school. If you do this as smoothly as possible, he’ll talk to you about the moon and the stars and about school if he feels like. 

Note: None of the above solutions work overnight. So arm yourself with patience. Yes, we all know how kids can terrorize us. But scolding is not a solution. You won’t instantly stop your kids from crying, acting out or making mistakes, simply because this is not a manual for robots and a child has feelings, just like us. And we all do mistakes, it’s part of the learning process. Instead, let him express his emotions and the best you can do is to give him guidance and set boundaries in a firm but caring way.


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