One particularly bad day – you know, the kind where the kids are behaving horribly and a one-way ticket to Timbuktu is incredibly appealing – I decided that there was only one thing for it. I was calling in Super Granny (aka Andalene Salvesen) to fix our family and get things back on track.
Friends raved about her ability to whip (not literally) the kiddos into shape in just a couple of hours – and I needed results, fast. And as luck would have it, SG herself was in town on one of her regular stops in Dubai, helping mamas just like me to regain some kind of control over their wayward brood.
If you’re not sure who or what I’m talking about, Andalene is a South African mama – and grand-mama – with a particular talent for getting kids to listen and for restoring order in the home (Dubai’s version of super nanny if you’ve seen her on the tv). Tantrums, fussy-eating or bad sleeping habits, she promises to fix them all (and more!). So hubby and I made the call and put the date of her visit firmly in the diary – and warned the kids that things were about to change…
I imagined Andalene to be completely terrifying, but actually, she isn’t! Warm and funny, she’s just very efficient and takes no nonsense – but not in a grumpy or shouty kind of way – her tactics have come as a result of 8 years as head of a playschool in Cape Town, 12 years of running Baby/Toddler workshops and a genuine understanding of how little people think, act and respond. She now offers home-visits to help parents with all sorts of problems and has earned a very impressive reputation for her work.
We asked SG to come to our home at 5pm, the start of ‘the witching hour’ and the run up to supper and bedtime – both of which came with a fair amount of stress, shouting and general chaos that made the dreaded end of each day more exhausting than it should be. Andalene arrived promptly, while hubby was still in the supermarket (having been sent to get 2 things – what the hell was he doing?!), the kitchen cupboards were being spray painted so all of their contents were on the floor and the kids had found a jar of nutella to get stuck into. Not good. I had wanted us to come across as a ‘normal and sane’ family and things weren’t off to the best start – but SG took it all in her stride and got to work.
Step one – a chat with me and hubby about our concerns (shouting too much, nobody listening, constant meltdowns – ours and the kids – etc, etc). Andalene explained that we needed to be consistent in our approach, use a specific language and avoid ‘labelling’ a child by telling them that they are ‘naughty’ which doesn’t help them understand that they are in control of their behaviour and choices. And then it was onto the nitty gritty. Time out. Yes I know what you’re all thinking, you’ve tried time-out and it doesn’t work – yes? Well I was the same until Andalene showed us how to do it the right way.
We asked each of the children to complete a task (Felix, tidy your toys. Arthur, go to your room and play. Violet, help mummy get the table ready for supper) – and when each of them didn’t comply – SG prompted us to tell them ‘you’re not listening’ and then repeat the instruction. After refusing again, each of the kids were put into ‘time out’ in specific areas (this bit’s important – a bedroom full of toys isn’t good and the kids must sit on the floor and wait for you to allow them out – after a designated time depending on their age). As you can imagine, this part went down like a lead-balloon and the whole house was filled with crying and screaming while hubby and I were encouraged to calmly check they were sitting down and leave them to it. When the time was over, the kids were asked to stand up, stop crying and complete whatever task it was they originally refused. And guess what mamas – it worked.
The process was repeated a few times until the kids understood that ‘you’re not listening’ was their cue to stop their nonsense. Suppertime, bathtime, bedtime – Andalene helped us through them all without the need for raised voices. Her method was calm, consistent and completely effective – hooray!
2 hours later, 3 children were happily snoring away while SG, hubby and I concluded the session with a chat and a plan to go forward and I can honestly say that – thanks to Andalene – our household is now a much calmer and less stressed place and that the kids are happier and more confident (plus sleeping better – even if this is a coincidence we are obviously delighted). We occasionally have to resort to time-out (and it doesn’t have to be at home – on the beach, in the park, wherever you are if you follow Andalene’s steps then it works) but actually the kids now recognise the steps beforehand and have the choice to change their behaviour.
The 3 magic words in our house now? ‘You’re not listening’ (okay, closely followed by ‘I love you’).
To book an appointment with Super Granny please visit www.munchkins.me
Featured image via Pinterest.