There is this programme I used to watch religiously a few years back, not because it was spectacular, but because it annoyed me like you wouldn’t believe.
I know, that’s irony right there, but I just couldn’t bring myself to switch to another channel, even when I found myself murmuring to myself or shaking my head in disbelief.
The programme was Nanny 911, an American reality television show that featured parents who had (I’m being polite here) unmanageable children.
In reality, these small human beings were out of control – they would scream, curse, spit, kick, and bite their parents if they didn’t have their way.
The poor parents, at a loss at what to do, would cry, (yes, really) yell back, or ignore the small imps.
Of course this would often unleash another round of screaming, which would culminate with a cup, or plate of food being hurled against the wall by the angry child.
Having endured this kind of appalling treatment from their children for years (most had three or more children between two and eight years) these parents would be worn out and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
It’s at this point that the nanny, an expert in raising children, would be called to come to the rescue.
She’d live with this family for a week, and teach the parents how to handle their unruly children.
Try as I might, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how a parent – any parent – would allow him or herself to be controlled this way by a child.
No child of mine, I told myself, would get away with answering me back or hitting me. No, sir!
Of course, I didn’t have a child then, hence the self-righteousness. Now I do and, to be honest, there are times I fervently wish I could call Nanny 911, yet my son is not even three yet.
For a long time, I had assumed that the only thing you had to do to get a child to behave or do what you wanted was to either pinch or spank.
After all, that is how most of us were raised.
Our parents’ word was law, especially following a thorough beating, and if your father gave you a certain look, you immediately stopped what you were doing.
If your mother raised a hand, or approached you menacingly, a slipper in hand, you ran for dear life.
Unfortunately, as I’ve found out, nowadays, at least in my case and that of some of my friends, it doesn’t work this way.
Raising children isn’t that easy. For instance, I have a friend whose three-year-old daughter has the habit of hitting her back, biting, or smashing things against the wall if she doesn’t get what she wants.
Instead of solving the problem, beating her only makes her more defiant.
The spanking has become so useless the toddler seems to have become immune to the pain and no longer cries, nor shows any signs of feeling pain.
My friend is now at a loss at what to do. The small girl practically calls the shots – she either gets what she wants or there’s no peace until she decides to stop screaming, rolling on the floor or smashing things.
I’ve endured my share of tantrums too and, being a first-time parent, there are times I’ve been on the verge of tears, especially after trying every pacifying method I know or have read about, and still not succeeding to get the desired behaviour out of my child.
As I write this, I’m looking for Nanny 911 DVDs. If you have any idea where I can get a couple, please let me know.
Since spanking isn’t working, I might as well try timeout, negotiating, withholding privileges, and the like.