Why am I screaming if no one is listening ……

Okay so Saturday was like any other night, we had 9 friends over for dinner and I had three kids going bezerk!

To correct myself, I had two kids going bezerk.

I had one kid who went downstairs and realized the safest place was to sit in the tv room and play Nintendo – that child has a special place in my heart and was definitely my favourite child on Saturday night.

Georgia has reached that stage, where we are at that point where we have no more tools to use to discipline her.

We had a fairly empty toolbox when we started parenting, but right now, we have run out of ideas and the tool box is empty (unless I pick it up and just starting hitting myself repeatedly over the head with it – which might end up giving me more results).

How it goes is Connor is the good, sensitive and conscientious one.   Georgia would follow Connor’s lead.  That way we had to discipline one, and the other one followed sort of obediently after.

It was a wonderful arrangement.

It is a bit like getting a dog, and house training and obedience training the one dog.

Given, you expend huge sums of energy on the training, but you do it, you do it well and it is done.  You then get a second dog and the first dog trains the other one by association – a winner recipe for lazy dog owners.

Swap out “first dog” with Connor and “second dog” with Georgia and “dog owners” with parents and you have got our little arrangement.  Sweet, when it works.

Until. It doesn’t.

Kennith and I have always congratulated ourselves (gloated actually) on what brilliant parents we are.  Our kids are obedient (relatively), we can take our kids out with us (to most places) and generally ours is a fairly easy household – it is controlled chaos but our kids listen and the screaming is kept to an acceptable level (as long as mom has Chuckles and wine).

Or.  So we thought.

Georgia turned five last year and it was as if a little slither of defiance opened up in her.  That window has since started to grow and grow and the glass pane has fallen out, so it is no longer a window as much as it is a gaping hole!

With Connor we had time out, which worked really well.  Even the threat of time out would work.  We could take tv-time away, take computer-time away, and we could take Nintendo-time away – or we could threaten to.

The thing with Connor is the mere hint of threat is enough to curb his behavior.

We also use a system of counting to get results i.e. “I am counting to three, if you are still lying here when I get to three, you will get a hiding/beaten/never be allowed out again/leave what ever fits!”

Before “one” is even out of your mouth Connor is gone.


Enter Georgia.

She does not respond to threats.  You can threaten to take television/Barbie/her princess dress/custard or what ever away from her, she sort of looks at you like “and then what will you do?”

If you threaten to give her a hiding, she seems to think it over before actually doing anything.

If you threaten to …. actually it does not matter what you threaten she just has zero reaction.  She does not care what you take away or what you threaten to throw away, she does not give a continental fig.

I count to three, and if she is being a smart ar&e she sometimes adds “four” when I get to “three” – which as mad as I it makes me, I still find really funny.  That girl has got real edge to her!

It is not like she is openly defiant.  But you can see on her face that what ever your threat is, it is just not doing the trick.

A bit like if your boss said: “Okay if you do not get to work on time, I will be cancelling all future enemas ….. I really mean it this time!!”  Wouldn’t exactly change you getting their much earlier would it?

Georgia is about the same.

On Saturday I had told her probably five times to get into the bath.  I had told her three times and screamed at her twice – I was busy cooking and just wanted her in the bath.

She did not want to bath and decided it was too early for bath time.  I see she is not in the bath, and then I get really cross – so I go looking for her.

I find her hiding under the sink  in the bathroom. (I was more cross because I had gone into the bathroom twice and had not seen her hiding there).

I did what any rational mother would do when they have lost the plot.  I took off my right slip-slop, sat on the toilet seat, pulled said child over my lap and give her three slaps with the “plakkie” on her bum!!

Then screamed: ”Now get in the bath, or I am coming back in here with the left one!”

Listen it is not a moment I am proud of, but we can talk about the right and wrong of smacking children at a later stage.

So Georgia is balling.  She gets undressed and gets in the bath …. I hear her saying something and crying, so I head back.

She goes – through snot and tears: “Is it washing hair day, because I don’t have a clip for my hair?”

I go, yes washing hair day, she goes, okay and starts laughing while she wets her hair.

My hiding was totally lost on her.  I think I was more traumatised by the experience.

I then sat (in calm Super Nanny style) and asked if she understood why she got a hiding.  She said “yes, because I was not listening” and then we spoke about that, and I went off feeling a bit crap to carry on cooking.

Georgia gets out the bath and then comes to make a picnic in the middle of the kitchen – where I am trying to cook – for the 9 guests.  She is totally ignoring me telling her repeatedly not to make the picnic in the kitchen – I remind her that she has just had a smack for not listening.

Still picnic’ing.

I mean seriously how far over the edge is this child trying to push me?

I pick up blanket and picnic stuff and throw it down the passage – I seriously seriously gave up even trying to look composed at this point.  The child does not listen – she does not even try to act like she does – and I am exhausted trying to find a way for her to hear me.

I am out of ideas.

I plan to take her for a hearing test in the next month, because seriously, the only possible reason is that she is stone deaf.  Because I am out of other ideas.

Leave a comment


  1. Helen

     /  March 23, 2011

    My first reaction was to say give up, tell her she doesn’t have to bath then and drink more so as to drown out the smell…. Possible not the best parenting advice though…

    • reluctantmom

       /  March 23, 2011

      Possibly not the best, possibly the one I am most likely to follow …………….. sadly…………

  2. Anita

     /  March 16, 2011

    When all else fails, put in time. That has been my guiding priciple with my darling daughter. If I find that she’s being hell on wheels, then instead of running away (which I would prefer to do by far), I make the effort to spend some one-on-one time with her doing something with just her. Maybe going for an ice-cream or a walk, but something that makes her feel like she’s the only other person in the world. Usually makes a huge difference and at least it stops me from having to scream like a fishwife!

  3. Anna F

     /  March 16, 2011

    Ek het 4 kinders waarvan die oudste soos jou Georgia is..en sy is nou 17. It never got better !

    • reluctantmom

       /  March 16, 2011

      Oh my giddy aunt ……… that is not quite what I was hoping to hear …..

  4. joanne

     /  March 16, 2011

    An acquaintance is excellent at “creative parenting”. Her consequences/punishments are always creative and worked out around ‘everything you have is a privilege given to you. If you can’t appreciate it… it will be taken away’. Sounds harsh, but she is great at being creative as an example:
    Her 2 primary school kids, could not leave the basin clean after brushing their teeth. There would always be tooth paste smudges on the basin, water pooled up on the vanity, tooth paste smooshed out of the tube and lying on the counter. She warned them and asked that they clean up after themselves, which pretty much resulted in kids carrying on regardless….. she warned them the following morning and the one after that. The punishment was simply – the privilege of a bathroom basin was taken away from them.
    Every morning (in the middle of a Jhb winter) they would be issued their toothbrushes, collect a cup from the kitchen, collect water from the outside tap and stand on the front lawn (on the frost bitten grass, in freezing temperatures) brushing their teeth, while all their friends and neighbors drove past…..
    The two of them were mortified and quickly apologized for their behavior, but it was too late. Apology not accepted until lesson learnt. They brushed their teeth on the front lawn for 5 days, until one realized that they had to alter their behavior in order to get back the privilege of a bathroom….
    Creative parenting – I wish I was creative…. I am getting so tired of my sing-song pleas and just can’t give my kids hidings – so I am afraid that I have created a monster! A deaf monster at that…. Although this morning I did hear him as someone if he “may I please” without any prompting to remember his manners….. some days you’re the windscreen, some days you’re the bug!

    • reluctantmom

       /  March 16, 2011

      That is brilliant – brushing teeth on the front lawn, I really need to sit down with my thinking cap – you do not want to punish your kids, but you do want them to learn consequences for behaviour. Brushing teeth outside – brilliant!

      I might be placing a plastic bucket outside the next time someone misses the toilet or does not flush!!!

      • joanne

         /  March 16, 2011

        thats the spirit. T

        hinking maybe next time Georgia doesn’t want to take a bath you can soap her up hose her down in the garden

  5. joanne

     /  March 16, 2011

    A dear friend of mine says each family has to have one….

    One, being a parana. Her 9 year old son, darling, blue eyed boy, well mannnered, respectful, perfect young man. Her 5 year old daughter = P A R A N A!!!

    My six year old is somewhere between the two. Really worried that my 8month old daugther is gonna be our Parana.

    Looking back though it would only be fair to get pay back, I was our families Parana and think carma is a bitch!!

  6. Tania

     /  March 16, 2011

    Hi. I feel for you. We had that with Ethan, he eventually outgrew that phase. I cannot give any suggestions as our toolbox was missing it’s base even, absolutely nothing helped. All I can say is Good Luck and hold thumbs she comes round eventually. Xx

  7. Sharon

     /  March 16, 2011

    LOVE the new look!
    And yikes! I’m worried about when Ava gets to Georgia’s age! She’s not yet 2 & is already showing a stubborn streak!
    No assive… just offering wine-infused-chuckles-stuffed support!

    • reluctantmom

       /  March 16, 2011

      Thanks, yes Georgia seemed to changed over night. I definitely love teh 2 – 3 1/2 age range, and love the 5 – 6 1/2 age range less.

  8. Claire

     /  March 16, 2011

    Please let me know if you find something that works, Liam (almost 3) has me at the end of my tether.
    Last night he lost the last of his toys and books – not 1 left in his room, unless he stashed them away – for not tiding up. This does not bother him in the slightest as he will quite happily spend an hour jumping off a dining room chair, playing with the dog pellets, lining up all the stones in the garden.
    If I give him a hiding he throws a wobbly and shouts “No hurt Liam, Mama naughty”
    If I raise my voice, I get calmly told “No shout, it’s rude”
    Time out is spent with me, hanging onto the door handle to stop him from getting out.

    My box is depleted, I have no solution, so wanna swap kids ?

    • reluctantmom

       /  March 16, 2011

      Er, I might have thought so …. but now that I hear about what you are going through, maybe not …………. but let’s keep talking and see how we fare going forward.

  9. Threaten to take Jamie away x

  10. You have just written the story of my life!

    Cameron is your Connor and Kiara is your Georgia. I have spent 6 years trying to find something to “threaten” her with – nothing works! NOTHING!!!!!

    It has to be one of the most frustrating things for me!!!!!!

    • reluctantmom

       /  March 15, 2011

      And you would think that by now we would have some smooth moves and tricks? You would think. I have nothing …. Georgia has totally thrown me ……….. I am in awe of her super powers!

  11. Ginger

     /  March 15, 2011

    Oh yes. I live this same life. Child #1 never breaks rules. Child #2 can be bribed. Child #3 just glares and you while you lecture and then rolls eyes and ignores you.

    When nothing’s important to them it’s really hard to use it as a tool to get good behavior. But we have learned a trick. Find something that’s important to them. Give a privilege, give them activities that they hold dear…and that you can take away. For child #2, she was allowed to stay up later than her sister. So that was the first thing we took away. We gave her a TV in her room. And it’s often off-limits (staring her in the face). We never take everything away…we always leave something for leverage. Also, make it clear their misbehaviors are beneath them. The 11yo kept leaving her bath til past bedtime. So the new rule is that she has to take her bath right after dinner like a little kid.

    The other thing is to always, always give a consequence. No matter how small, just give it. Don’t let them think you’ll let it slide…or they’ll push you every time. The point of a consequence isn’t a deterrent. It’s to maintain power.

    Oh, another one. Have a set consequence for some things so they know what the situation is and there’s no argument. For instance, we used to always be out of glasses because there would be 10 in each kid’s room. So the rule is that you can have 2. If more than 2 are found, then that child does the dishes that night. So now when they’re caught it’s sort of like getting “out” in tag. It’s like a game they lost, there’s no argument or back-talk.

    Parenting is the hardest thing I ever did. My toolbox was terribly empty. My childhood was all yelling, so that’s what I know. But my husband has done this before and he’s the one who brought all these new ideas. And they work!

    • reluctantmom

       /  March 15, 2011

      Thanks for those suggestions Ginger, need to sit down and find something that works, because we are really one step away from military school …. do they still have those ….. for Grade 1’s?

  12. I totally feel your pain! I have 2 year old twins (boy/girl). My daughter does not listen!! I’m also convinced a trip to an audiologist is in order. Really. She gets this look on her face when I’m trying to get her to do something. Something like “I have better things to do than acknowledge your existence right now!”

    • reluctantmom

       /  March 15, 2011

      Totally relate ….. I am so out of ideas right now …. audiologist, if that does not work, might need to look at military school ……


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