Pick your battles.

What might be seen as cheeky or rude in one family might not be in another. Think about what matters most in your family and try to let the rest go.


Look at what is causing the behaviour.

Often cheeky or rude behaviour comes from overexcitement or embarrassment. Check what’s going on or who is around them at the time.

Praise the when they use nice language.

By feeding the behaviour you want to see, you’ll start to see more of it. Be specific – “Ka pai, you asked for that toy nicely – here you go!”. I love it when you say please - great manners, thank you!

Ask them for their ideas.

Ask them how you can help them to behave well. Make a few simple rules together about what words are OK and not OK in your house. Write or draw them up together and put them on the fridge. Ask them how they like you to talk to them.

Try not to overreact to swearing or toilet talk.

Try to stay calm when your child swears or uses toilet talk. If you or anyone else laughs or growls at your child it’s giving their rudeness attention, which could mean that they’re encouraged to do it more. Getting a reaction from an adult is great fun when you're small but if everyone reacts calmly, using these words will soon lose their appeal.

Be consistent.

Be consistent with your rules around acceptable language. Often younger kids can say something and get a giggle from adults that an older sibling might get a growling for.

Set an example.

Kids learn about manners from watching and listening to the people around them. What are your kids seeing and hearing? Be aware of the tone and words you use not only to your kids but around them.

If they are hearing swearing or yelling or are often spoken to harshly they’re learning that this is okay behaviour in your house.

Kids learn to say “Please”, “thank you” “excuse me” and “sorry” when they regularly hear them used towards them. The same applies to cursing and swearing.

Check what they are watching or listening to.

Small children absorb information from television programmes, the internet, videos and even music lyrics. Your preschooler is growing up in a multimedia world which offers easy access to inappropriate material. Be aware of age ratings on movies and TV programmes and try to watch them together when you can. 

  •  If there’s a range of ages living in your home agree on times for kids’ programmes and time for adult programmes. 
  • Avoid having the TV on all the time.  Agree on what programmes and how many the kids can watch and turn it on for them and off again when they finish. You could do the same for adult programmes. 
  • Supervise Ipad/Iphone exploring and check settings to ensure they’re not surfing somewhere inappropriate for their age 

Avoid power truggles

When your child says ‘No’ to every request it’s best not to meet them head-on. They’re testing your limits and a power struggle won’t help.  Instead take a deep breath and try a different tactic. 

Make requests invitations, not orders.

To avoid the flat out NO, invite kids to get involved, Eg ‘Who wants to help me…?’
You could even make it a game – let’s see who’s fastest at putting these away….

Create win-wins.

Create a reason for them to want to do as you ask – eg ‘If we put these away now, we’ll have time to go to the park’ Or “If you get your PJs on now, we’ll have time for two books, not just one.”

Stick to your guns.

Sometimes when you can’t give them a choice, it helps to let them know you understand their feeling even though you can’t say yes this time.
“I know you want to stay longer but we have to go right now or we’ll miss the bus. We don’t want to walk home do we?”

Over it? Use your phone timer to set a time limit for a play activity – your full attention for five minutes is better than half pai for longer.

Need back-up? Family members might be willing to help but not sure what to do. . Be specific – “could you please bath/feed change/dress baby”

Feeling like a bad parent? Look around and check is there anything that could be dangerous to the kids? If not, relax – you’re doing OK!

Feel like you’re always on the go? Your kids are the most important thing - and they’re only young once. Think about what absolutely must be done now and what can wait.

Worried what others think of your parenting? What your kids think of you is what really matters! If you focus on them, you’re already doing a great job.

Feeling down? Talking with someone you trust can be the first step to finding help. Working out whether your feelings are temporary or more lasting is important. Depressed? Writing down your feelings in a daily diary will help you monitor whether it’s getting better or worse. This will also help you explain better if you go to your doctor.

Sick of yelling? Try singing your frustration instead. If you hop or jump at the same time, everyone gets the giggles — another great tension buster!

Feeling yuk? If no-one else can help with the kids, grab a pillow and blanket - set up camp in your lounge until you start to feel better

Had enough? You may feel like you need alcohol or drugs to relax – but they often make the situation worse, especially when you have to deal with kids. Who could help you cut down or cut it out?

Stress over unpaid bills? Have a banking setup that automatically takes money out for your main bills first. Then you know what you have left to survive on.

Determined to stay calm?

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Putting it all together

SKIP’s approach is based on six things which children need from parents to help them grow into happy, capable adults.

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  • Love & warmth

  • Talking & listening

  • Guidance & understanding

  • A structured & secure world

  • Consistency & consequences

  • Limits & boundaries