As a new family coming together back in 2007, we decided to take our first holiday together with the children, Ollie nearly 3 years old and Beth 6.
Many families plan theses wonderful holidays away and make treasured memories together. One holiday in particular will always stay with me.
This new man had come into my life, bringing me some new found happiness after being widowed and he was fully embracing ready made family life. We had chosen this lovely hotel in Greece and had enjoyed exploring our new surroundings. The highlight of evening was having some gorgeous food in the very large restaurant, the kids were excited about all the food laid before them. As you do when your a mum, you make sure everyone is happy with their food before you get yours, right? Ollie had eaten his main meal and was pushing for his pudding, to keep the peace my new man, (wearing my trousers, a story for another time) decided he was ready to take control of this situation and lovingly offered me time to eat my dinner in peace, or so I hoped..
Off they went to the ice cream bar, leaving me and my eldest at the table. All was well for a few moments, I was enjoying my food, a glass of wine, some time with my daughter and some peace and quiet.
Until a wailing banshee erupted through the restaurant. As the entire restaurant fell silent, a bead of sweat ran down my neck when I realised that the banshee was mine...
As I fearfully look up, to hundreds of eyes now focused on this man with said wailing child swiftly making his way back to our table where I gracefully took back control and carefully pieced the puzzle together of what actually went down at the ice cream bar! Not an easy task with a child screaming anyway but Ollie also had a speech difficulty. After some quick calming down and the surrounding attention dissipating, Beth and I start decoding the situation.
It transpires that the enormous selection of ice cream was far too overwhelming, leading to Ollie wanting, everything! My new man wanting to experience parenting had rightly so tried to limit his selection but failed miserably. Ollie, as we know now, can be extremely stubborn and clearly wasn’t liking this new man telling him what to do, as mummy ruled in his world. Finally, sitting back down to finish our meal, with Ollie back in his own chair along side his bowl of now melted ice cream, he wouldn’t bloody eat it anyway!
So the lesson to learn here, is don’t travel with kids!
I’m just kidding, but negotiation here is key, and this is the day I started to teach my new man about parenting. It’s great to give children choices but ultimately those choices must be in your favour, because at the end of the day, you are the parent.
So example, Ollie wanted all the ice cream available, obviously this is not ideal on many levels, so here’s a suggestion:
Take your child up the ice cream bar and say, “You can have 2 scoops of ice cream, you can have strawberry and vanilla or chocolate and caramel, what’s it going to be?” - (It’s important your language is direct, don’t sway.)
You have to win this, but by allowing a choice, your child feels as if they are in control. The overall outcome of this is that the choice is completely yours. This technique is transferable to every scenario in life, whether it’s over food, toys or clothing, making it an important one to have in your back pocket.