Monday, 7 March 2011

Seven skills of the successful under four

A little while back, Emily O made me laugh with her Seven habits of a highly ineffective mother.  But while reading and nodding, I was also thinking "Well, this is all very well, but she needs to give credit where credit is due. No one gets to be a truly ineffective mother if they don't have a highly skilled crack team* of children on which to practice.

So, for the under fours** reading this blog, here are the seven skills, in my opinion, of the successful child.  Do these and you too can have a highly ineffective, probably grey-haired, mummy.

1.  Never do anything quickly.  Take your time.  There is no hurry. Let Louis Armstrong be your guide.  Doesn't matter how busy she says she is, or how little time she says there is, Mummy can always be kept waiting just that little bit longer.

2.  Care about the things that matter.  It is important which bowl you have your breakfast in. Or which pair of socks you have on. Or whether the beans are touching the fish fingers. 

3.  If something isn't right, make your displeasure known.  Make it loud or she might not hear you.  How will she ever learn otherwise? 

4.  Mothers need to exercise their vocal chords.   Never do anything on the first time of asking.  Nor the second.  Or third.  Fourth is just about acceptable, but for really successful parental training you want to be aiming for six or seven repeats.

5.  Whatever your sister/cousin/brother/friend/dog is playing with is always more exciting and interesting than what you're playing with.  Get it.

6.  Anything out of a packet is always, without exception, whatever the packet says on it (All Bran, Plain flour, Polyfilla) tastier and more appealing than anything out of a saucepan.

7.  Treat her mean, keep her keen: at the end of the day, when Daddy comes in, stop what you're doing, look at him, smile winningly, lift up your arms for a cuddle, and ignore all the previous rules (but only where he is concerned) until bedtime.

*"Team" can, in this context of course, equally well mean the highly adaptable, exceptionally focussed, single child too.  Any one of my three is perfectly capable of doing all of these (including having an argument) on her own.
** And probably the under fives too - I'll let you know in April.


  1. what is it with the beand touching the fish fingers. It all goes to the same tummy! I hate that rule. AND my daughter is now 12 and she still complains loudly if her favourite socks or pants aren't 'available' in fact most of these rules still apply so don't bank on getting away from any of them for a while. I congratulate you on your observation skills!

  2. Oh the speed thing drives me crackers. The more I shriek we're late the sloooooooower they go. Do you think they all compare notes at nursery / preschool/ playgroup etc?

  3. Some of these are, thankfully, distant memories. We also had the no touching of food business going on, together with a no gravy/sauce rule. Now he's happy to have it all sloshing about together.
    Great post x

  4. Ah, you must have sent this post out as an information pack to my two last year. Still, it's nice to know they can read - at least I can tell them to read their own bed time stories from now on.

    My mother always complained about my 'faddiness' about food touching. I should be ashamed to say that I still have problems with beans touching other things, but I shall stand proud! Feel no shame! And pretend to myself that this makes me a better, more understanding mother!!

  5. If only they stopped doing all these at 4! My 18 year old still has some 'food-touching' issues..

  6. Thanks for the mention! I love this version, very true. I love number 4 and exercising vocal chords.

  7. how very, very true these 7 skills are!


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