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    Parenting in the Parks: Naughty Kids in the Parks

    Naughty Kids in the Parks by Adrienne Krock

    The Parenting Panel shares strategies for disciplining children when visiting Disney theme parks.

    Read it here!


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    I have to say that I love reading the parenting panel posts, they are so full of little things here and there that I can use for myself or to pass on to other parents.

    I really admire Jen in this case for pulling her kid out of line to teach a lesson. I think that makes you a great parent, not a bad one. I think we are parents need to offer encouragement to each other more when we see a parent stepping out and taking advantage of a teachable moment, whether it is just in the form of a smile or backing them up by saying something like "Thanks for doing that, I am going to try that with my kid next time" or "I've had to do that with my kid before also". Too many times we feel guilty for disciplining in public, which I think is why some kids act like brats in places like Disneyland, because they know their parent isn't going to do anything.

    For us, I honestly can't remember ever having any major problems with my son in the park, but I am also dealing with one child which is so much different than multiple children. I also have teenage parent amnesia, where my mind thinks that my child was an angel when he was younger compared to this growing, hormone-filled, pre-adult that is occupying my previously perfect angel of a child's body.

    One thing I remember that helped A LOT though, was to make sure that he took a nice nap in the afternoon when we were vacationing in the park. This helped tackle three behavior issues all at once for us.

    One: It prevented him from getting overly tired and cranky at night
    Two: It got both of us out of the park during the heat of the day (which helps keep tempers from heating up)
    Three: It gave him a break from all the fun and over stimulation (which can lead to meltdowns just as fast as being over tired)

    He is now 14 and we still head back to the hotel in the afternoon for naps and pool time. It has just become such a habit for us in the 10 years we have been vacationing in Disneyland that we figure that "if it isn't baroque don't fix it"


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    Quote Originally Posted by megzrg View Post
    I have to say that I love reading the parenting panel posts, they are so full of little things here and there that I can use for myself or to pass on to other parents.
    Yeah!! Thank you!

    I know one hard thing for me is picking a consequence I'll actually follow through on. It's really easy for me to say "You will have to sit out on the next ride" and actually DO that, but it's so tempting "Do you want to leave RIGHT NOW??"

    Yesterday I went with just my youngest and he was being a challenge. I knew I wasn't willing to turn around RIGHT away and go home. So I had to think fast. I took him aside, got on his level, looked him in the eye - I gave him a little lecture (yeah, I did,) and then I said "This is it - The next time you do this, I'm taking away dessert. The time after that, we WILL go home." And it worked. He was brilliant for the rest of the day. There were a couple of times he got a little cranky - mostly because he was tired or hungry.

    Which is the other big red flag: When the kids act up, I ask myself "When was the last time they ate and what did they have?" Sometimes sugar overload is as bad (or worse) than being hungry. I try to balance the sugar with protein to avoid the overload. And they carry water bottles to keep hydrated.
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    I think this article hit two of my biggest 'things' as a non-parent: Follow through, and give them a fighting chance.
    I REALLY tire of hearing parents say over and over and over: 'If you keep doing this Johnny, we're going to leave'... 'If you keep doing this Johnny, we're going to leave'... etc There have been times I've come REALLY close to saying 'Would you leave already, clearly Johnny is not going to stop doing that'!

    And by give them a fighting chance: make sure they're adequately rested, fed, hydrated, and cooled. I know I get grumpy when any of those things happen, and it's just not fair to the kid to expect them to be angels if you let their reserves get too low! And honestly, that's why I have recommended lunch ADRs instead of dinners for parents of preschoolers in particular, who aren't sure how their kids are going to handle the unusual bed, excessive stimulation, etc.

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    One of my wisest moments as a Mom was actually just dumb luck (like many of my best moments). I realized, I too "misbehave". I found myself one of our first trips getting really angry and frustrated. It was for a good reason (daughter would not stay with the group). But definitely caused a bad attitude on my part. Since then, I've tried when at Disney to live by the mantra- it's all about your attitude. (generally true, but I do a better job at disney). So I have over the years enlisted my kids and we all keep an eye on each other, watching for each others attitude slipping into grumpy areas. Then we have a kind or funny way to remind each other. Like "Hey we are Disney". Or my son just gives me that knowing smile and says he loves me. I usually then take a deep breath, smile and apologize- or just wink. I of course keep an eye on them too. But the knowledge that we all have trouble doing the right thing, and it isn't just about punishment (I also parent my kids behavior as a Mom as well) but sometimes about helping each other be the best. As I said, it really was just a small idea. But I think it has helped them see I parent because it is an important job, and they see I try to change too.


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    It is good to know your child/ren. A one size fits all doesn't work since all kids are different. Many of the traditional methods of punishment simply will not work for certain kids. My son is known to laugh at punishments. He will actually try to push it to see if we will follow through and then throw a tantrum if we do..which makes things worse. I think the best approach is a good talk with your child before going to the park so that they know what is expected and how they should behave. Breaks during the day help too. Listen to your child...if they say they don't want to do a certain ride, don't push them. if they are hungry, stop for a break and eat. Sometimes you simply have to ignore stares and comments from unknowing bystanders as well. Not every child has learned to control their emotions and reactions.

    Last edited by dsnyredhead; 07-18-2013 at 08:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adriennek View Post
    Yeah!! Thank you!

    I know one hard thing for me is picking a consequence I'll actually follow through on. It's really easy for me to say "You will have to sit out on the next ride" and actually DO that, but it's so tempting "Do you want to leave RIGHT NOW??"
    That is the biggest thing, consistency. My youngest is Aspie, and it was probably what made life workable for us. I knew I had to follow through with all my kids, but even more so for her. I knew if I said "Do you want to leave?" I better be prepared to leave. When I had told the older kids "You will meet me at 2pm ON the bridge or you lose the right to do your thing", and found my oldest off the bridge wandering in the hub area (MDM and Escape Artist were sitting on the bridge waiting) even though I knew he would whine the whole time, he had to stay with me, while the other two were released to go ride big kids rides, while he got to watch the parade with me and Youngest.

    My nieces are great kids, but can be spunky. They know we give a lot, but expect proper behavior. They usually have 1 incident a trip (Adk witnessed one a couple years ago) Well, our first day of the last trip, they had swam, we went to dinner, then to Fantasmic! Soemhow between dinner and Fantasmic! they decided to squabble. MDM warned them, it continued... They did pull out of it by the time Fantasmic! started, but it was enough for MDM... The next morning, we hit the park running. About 10am, MDM hits an ice cream cart. The nieces (12 and 8) follow her. MDM orders 1 ice cream sandwich. The ODV CM sees the 2 nieces drooling and says "Anything else?" and MDM says "No just 1." She sees the look on the kids faces and says "Remember before Fantasmic!" They shook their heads yes... "Maybe next time..." And not a single squabble the rest of the trip. And they got an ice cream an hour later.
    Planning 3 trips at once...

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    Quote Originally Posted by dsnyredhead View Post
    My son is known to laugh at punishments. He will actually try to push it to see if we will follow through and then throw a tantrum if we do..which makes things worse.
    My non parenting skills are showing. Isn't the above what most kids try when disciplined? At least when you start?

    I ask because you could be describing my niece exactly when she was younger--she is challenging in ways her brother is not--but she sure learned quick that didn't fly at my house. She does need a little more flexibility and her parents know precisely where her limits are but...tantrums have consequences for her. Definitely this is hard for her and her parents but I don't know how it could be avoided when we know she's going to be growing up and spending more time in the "outside" world.

    She still struggles at nine; it's an ongoing thing with her. But her life seems a lot more enjoyable now that she has a stronger handle on how to manage herself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bennette View Post
    She still struggles at nine; it's an ongoing thing with her. But her life seems a lot more enjoyable now that she has a stronger handle on how to manage herself.
    My middle son, mercifully, skipped the tantrum thing. My bookends? Not so much. The highlight of eldest was the tantrums in Target. Once I got seriously consistent about not tolerating them, anytime, any where (even in the middle of Target where people were staring,) they went away. Sometimes that meant sitting down on the floor of Target with a tantruming kid. Yep. Did that. I used to say to him "Unfortunately for you, your mother doesn't embarrass easily..."

    Youngest has had a different tantrum pattern (different kids are different!) But the approach has had to be the same: Any time, any where, don't back down.

    I'm seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, at 9. Wednesday at Disneyland, he knew, one tantrum, we're going home. He had some big feelings. But he found a way to manage them!!

    Today, he knows he has a play date at a friend's house to go swimming, on the line. I told him one time, at the first sign of a "big feeling" - I will call your buddy right now if I have to. He got unhappy with me at a grocery store, and I started to cringe, ready for it to start, ready to not cave - HE MAINTAINED!!!!! I started to get upset with him and I caught myself!!! I said "You're doing a good job of not blowing up." Instead of reminding him that if he blew up, I'd call his buddy. Sometimes, even giving him positive reinforcement gets him upset. When he's mad, every little thing can set him off. But the key is following through, even when I don't want to.

    I'm calling this one a battle won. The war isn't quite over - and it hasn't been easy - but we're getting there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bennette View Post
    My non parenting skills are showing. Isn't the above what most kids try when disciplined? At least when you start?
    Oh yes. I always tell people "Its going to get worse before it gets better" when they opt to change their parenting. The child/kid/young adult learns if I do this, I get this. When you change, they will keep trying, and they will escalate trying to regain the power. It isn't until they realize they have lost the power, that they will cease fighting.

    Every child has their "currency", and it is true, every child is different. I have raised 4 very different children. But the one thing that wasn't different was me. I set limits and boundaries, and all 4 kids knew what they were. My neuro-typical child and my Aspie child and my ADHD kids were all different, but all knew failure to sit in their seat at a restaurant was not tolerated. All knew throwing a fit would result in further consequences. My SIL once asked me how I got my kids to stay in time out. My answer? Because they don't want to go to the next level.

    I have nephews whose parents let them do whatever. It is too hard to discipline them, so they get away with everything. But they are smart. They know Auntie Mal doesn't deal with it. When around me alone, they are fine. If their parents are around, its useless. I have been known to discipline all, including my brother. (No, we aren't riding Indy even though it is a 10 min wait because your child is acting up!)

    Honestly? The secret is consistency. Every child WANTS and NEEDS rules, boundaries, and limitations. They may not LIKE them when it impedes their immediate desires, but they do want them.
    Planning 3 trips at once...

  12. #11

    every child wants & needs rules amen sister. at least once every vacation a meal is ruined by a misbehaving child while the supposed parent is either drinking heavy or to stoned to notice . common sense is so short today .


  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Malcon10t View Post
    That is the biggest thing, consistency. My youngest is Aspie, and it was probably what made life workable for us.
    Malcon10t, my son is Asperger's as well. I realize that most kids will push things as bennette said, but I'm guessing you know more than anyone what we go through on a daily basis. My son laughs in the face of punishment then screams bloody murder when we follow through. Sounds like a toddler thing but he is 9. We're working on teaching him to calm down but it's hard when they do not want to accept why that behavior is unacceptable.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Malcon10t View Post
    Honestly? The secret is consistency. Every child WANTS and NEEDS rules, boundaries, and limitations. They may not LIKE them when it impedes their immediate desires, but they do want them.
    THIS!!! I may not be a parent, but I was a pre-school teacher for many years. This is a very important lesson to learn! My brother still thinks I don't have a clue about kids. 5 years ago when my niece and nephew were 4.5, we were at a hotel swimming pool, and he kept yelling at them to stop running. He did not believe me when I told him I could get them to stop running. I yelled Red Light and they stopped in an instant. The other thing I do if I see a kid running is just call out "Walking feet!" in my teacher voice. Kids crave limits to prove you care.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcon10t View Post
    My neuro-typical child and my Aspie child and my ADHD kids were all different, but all knew failure to sit in their seat at a restaurant was not tolerated. All knew throwing a fit would result in further consequences.
    I'm curious, do you remember how far any of the kids went in pushing the limits and/or throwing a fit afterward? Cause I see that kind of thing in stores, and I just shake my head at them. Kid is misbehaving already and being disruptive/messing with stuff in the check-out line. Parent gives a half-hearted attempt to curb it. Then, kid finds a candy they want and pesters parent for it. Parent says no a few times, but the kid keeps asking, louder and more demanding each time. Eventually, the parent gives up and lets the kid have it. And the parent looks at me and says something like, "It's only one candy, and it'll keep him quiet" and seems to expect me to nod understandingly. I pretty much just stare. So your kid was misbehaving and you've rewarded him with candy. You don't think he's going to remember that next time? You've just taught him what he can get away with.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cstephens View Post
    Eventually, the parent gives up and lets the kid have it. And the parent looks at me and says something like, "It's only one candy, and it'll keep him quiet" and seems to expect me to nod understandingly. I pretty much just stare. So your kid was misbehaving and you've rewarded him with candy. You don't think he's going to remember that next time? You've just taught him what he can get away with.
    At that point that he is throwing a tantrum, we simply leave. No candy. I've left full grocery carts at the checkout lane before and have gone back once he is calm. I've gone home and waited for Jeff to get home so I could go shopping without my son at times as well.
    Last edited by dsnyredhead; 07-21-2013 at 01:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dsnyredhead View Post
    At that point that he is throwing a tantrum, we simply leave. No candy. I've left full grocery carts at the checkout lane before and have gone back once he is calm. I've gone home and waited for Jeff to get home so I could go shopping without my son at times as well.
    Yep, I've carried my 3 year old out of stores and restaurants if he's in full on screaming tantrum mode. If he's generally behaving but randomly screams for one particular thing we'll talk about screaming for stuff and if it's something I wouldn't mind him getting (like grapes at Trader Joe's last week), I'll ask him "how do you get things?" and he will then ask nicely and say please.

    I do try not to judge parents in similar situations who make different choices, though it can be hard when you see a kid is pitching a fit and then goes home with a candy bar or a new toy. But having a toddler is exhausting and sometimes it is not worth the fight. That doesn't mean I let them get away with murder, but there are times I pick my battles or just try to redirect their attention.
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    Quote Originally Posted by *Nala* View Post
    That doesn't mean I let them get away with murder, but there are times I pick my battles or just try to redirect their attention.
    Definitely. I don't know that there is a right or wrong way to parent.....each child and each parent is different and needs to decide for themselves what works best for them and their child and the situation. Different techniques are important based on the child's ability to understand things. Not every child processes information the same way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cstephens View Post
    I'm curious, do you remember how far any of the kids went in pushing the limits and/or throwing a fit afterward? Cause I see that kind of thing in stores, and I just shake my head at them. Kid is misbehaving already and being disruptive/messing with stuff in the check-out line. Parent gives a half-hearted attempt to curb it. Then, kid finds a candy they want and pesters parent for it. Parent says no a few times, but the kid keeps asking, louder and more demanding each time. Eventually, the parent gives up and lets the kid have it. And the parent looks at me and says something like, "It's only one candy, and it'll keep him quiet" and seems to expect me to nod understandingly. I pretty much just stare. So your kid was misbehaving and you've rewarded him with candy. You don't think he's going to remember that next time? You've just taught him what he can get away with.
    We have a favorite line in our family, "You don't negotiate with terrorists." A 2yo throwing a tantrum is a terrorist within the family. You give in, you have taught them the tantrum works to their advantage. When you are in public, too many worry about what people are thinking of them when their child throws a fit. They give in because they don't want to make a scene, but they have just taught the child how to gain the power.

    I started when the kids were very young. No meant no. I have walked out of a grocery store because my child was escalating. "I'm sorry, here's my cart. We need to leave." Escalation meant further consequences.

    But there is also a thing for setting the child up for success. You don't start teaching a child to behave in a restaurant IN a restaurant. You start at home, then progress to someplace that if the behaviors aren't what you expect, you can exit quickly before you try a nice restaurant. You don't try doing something where you need good behavior during the child's nap time, or when they might be hungry. You try and make the first time a perfect time so they learn "This excellent behavior is what we like" and you do reward it!

    I'm trying to think of my kids escalations. Escalations generally resulted in a time out and loss of any potential rewards. Most of the kids knew I would let them ride the horses outside a grocery store if all went well. And they did like that. As they got older, their "currency" changed. I did do one thing I always said I would not do. One of MDM's currencies was books. I always swore I would never take books away from a kid. But if you grounded her for something, she would just grab a book, and she was still in heaven. So, I took away books once.

    At Disneyland, the worst was taking rides. They hated that. But they also knew if they escalated, we would leave the park. It wasn't an empty threat.

    It really is hard for parents who are trying to establish the power if it doesn't start when the child is young. If the child has the power, and the parent is trying to establish they now want the power, the child will escalate like normal, and if the parents don't relent, they will go further and louder trying to regain the power. It will take consistency and time to "realign" the leadership roles.

    That said, if a child has issues, set them up for positive behavior. For example, my ADHD son had real problems sitting traditionally in a restaurant. We made concessions. He was allowed to sit on his knees or perch in his seat as long as 1. he behaved and 2. it wasn't disturbing others. If we had a table, he could stand at his spot, but there was no moving around, walking around, moving away from his spot.

    As far as my Aspie escalating, I can remember it happening a couple times. Those times she came to realize were not worth it. Several have been with me when Youngest might have started the wrong way, and even now, we redirect her. Sometimes you simply have to say "We don't say yuck about a new food." Or "We don't make faces (about food) at the table." She is an adult now, but still needs help knowing what is appropriate.

    I know a lot of parents really are great parents. The problem is parents who fail to parent stand out more than the ones who do. I admire the ones who will go to the hotel and check out because their child "isn't up" to staying longer and they head home. (You know who you are...) That is SO MUCH MORE work than just ignoring the behaviors and allowing the child to just melt down. But, it will pay off in the long run because the next time, the child will know you are serious, you have done it before.

    But you need to know your child. Is the cause of the behavior something they need help with? Are they hungry? Are their shoes on the wrong feet? Do they need less stimulation? Do they need a nap? Even as an adult, MDM needed help recognizing when she needed food. There is so much going on, parenting is not for the weak!!!
    Last edited by Malcon10t; 07-21-2013 at 02:18 PM.
    Planning 3 trips at once...

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    Quote Originally Posted by *Nala* View Post
    But having a toddler is exhausting and sometimes it is not worth the fight. That doesn't mean I let them get away with murder, but there are times I pick my battles or just try to redirect their attention.
    I understand, and agree to a degree. You do pick your battles. For example, MDM started dressing herself at 18 mos. She liked what she liked. It wasn't a battle that was important to me. If she wanted to wear a plaid shirt with striped pants, I didn't fight. Wasn't worth it. But once I said no, she had to wear the pink pantsuit (inside joke) there isn't going to be a power struggle. And I would "fight" because I knew if I gave in then, I would lose in the future. And she knew if I was saying no, there was a reason and I wasn't giving in.

    If the child is throwing a fit, and are given the candy bar, what will happen in the future? They are being set up for failure.
    Planning 3 trips at once...

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    I'm reading along and nodding my head to every single thing Mal has said, my favorite line with missy is brain damaged not stupid. I got the best advice ever when she was 9 months old, a dear friend with a child with disabilities was with me one day when Missy was testing ... and even at 9 months she tried, I didn't let her get away with the fit and my friend said to me, the more normal you treat her the more normal she will be. That meant, do not let the issues be excuses for poor behavior. Accept the limitations but be prepared to find solutions that work within her capabilities. I followed that advice so strongly that she has been blessed to have lunch at Club 33 and I know that when the server 'reports' to our host that we'll get stellar reviews on her behavior. I have been with the same mom that Mal mentioned and I can't express my admiration and respect for her skills as a mom. When she speaks to her sons it's with a calm tone but with no nonsense. If she makes a statement they both know that she is not going to back off or give in and both of her sons have special challenges that would make parenting harder for anyone. The bottom line in parenting is being consistent and being willing to put in the work. Watching another mom do a basket hold on her toddler in the middle of target comes to mind. You do have to pick your battles but don't lose when you do.

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    Okay, so I'm fascinated with these YouTubes right now but let me assess this parenting fail and you guys tell me how I did, okay? I know it's not a tantrum but I don't have a YouTube for tantrum.

    (1) Do not attempt logic with a two-year old in an effort to end cookie terrorism

    (2) Do not extend the cookie conversation; instead offer limited alternatives ("You can have a cup of water or we can read a story; which one would you like?").

    (3) DO NOT GIVE THE KID A COOKIE!!

    Dude, you may actually be my nemesis.

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    For someone who isn't the parent of a toddler you nailed it E! Once you say NO that's it, it has to be NO. If you even think you'll give the child 'one more' then just give them the last cookie and say ok this is the last cookie, but if you said NO more cookies, it's the end of that convo and time to move on to other topics. Offering alternatives is a good choice but whatever you do, do NOT cave and give them that cookie you've said no to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bennette View Post
    Okay, so I'm fascinated with these YouTubes right now but let me assess this parenting fail and you guys tell me how I did, okay? I know it's not a tantrum but I don't have a YouTube for tantrum.

    (1) Do not attempt logic with a two-year old in an effort to end cookie terrorism

    (2) Do not extend the cookie conversation; instead offer limited alternatives ("You can have a cup of water or we can read a story; which one would you like?").

    (3) DO NOT GIVE THE KID A COOKIE!!
    My only change would have been in #2.

    (2) Do not extend the cookie conversation; instead offer limited alternatives ("Do you want to sit in timeout or would you like to go play with your dolls/cars?").
    Planning 3 trips at once...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcon10t View Post
    My only change would have been in #2.

    (2) Do not extend the cookie conversation; instead offer limited alternatives ("Do you want to sit in timeout or would you like to go play with your dolls/cars?").

    LOL! Okay I'm obviously still in training.
    Dude, you may actually be my nemesis.

    "...since I donít do drugs, I spend the money that I save on good dried beans." David Lebovitz

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    Everything I need to know, I learned on MousePlanet.

    Dude, you may actually be my nemesis.

    "...since I donít do drugs, I spend the money that I save on good dried beans." David Lebovitz

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