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I love the philosophy, but in practice don't institute everything at once
on 3 February 2014
I read this about 6 months ago as I was struggling with my nearly 6 year old. I loved the advice and the philosophy. I am sure it is probably the way I went about trying to change our situation, but I found some of the changes I made have made the situation worse.
The most important thing she says is about having clear limits and sticking to them. But she is also very insistent about why punishment doesn't work and can be counter productive. She advises you stop punishing by trying to use avoidance of bad behaviour (spotting it coming and trying to resolve the issue before it blows up) and picking your battles. I would advise that if you have a particularly willful child that, initially at least, you carry on with your normal ways of dealing with bad behaviour, whilst trying to connect more and show your child you are being fair and consistent.
I think I tried too hard to stop punishing without enough tricks in my arsenal to set limits consistently. I started not setting limits as I didn't know how I would enforce them without being able to threaten or bribe. As a result my son saw a weekness and just tried harder and harder to push beyond the limits I'd set, and his behavious got worse, which then resulted in me resorting to more severe punishments than I used before.
If you have a particularly strong willed/defiant child I would recommend:
Your Defiant Child, Second Edition: Eight Steps to Better Behavior
Which takes you through the process more slowly, also has an emphasis on connection and special time, but does allow you to use rewards to get your child back on track, and is perhaps more geared toward the extreme ends of behaviour. I'm hoping once I have worked through that book and got my lovely son back again, I can then move back to Dr Markham's system.
Goodluck if you are struggling like me - it is very very hard work and you can get demoralised and upset as I am today, and feel like you have failed your child - and not understand how you have raised an uncaring and rude little monster. I hope this can help others.