Raising Standards
A simple `back to basics` discipline technique has been launched by a Gloucestershire author, which promises to tame out-of-control children - in under a week. Adopting it could, experts claim, help desperate parents transform unruly youngsters of any age into obedient ``little angels``. The approach relies on a non-violent three-step process known as the `Three Rs` - request, repeat and reassure. It is said to be significantly more effective than traditional forms of discipline such as grounding and reducing pocket money. Even the threat of the dreaded `naughty step` - until now, a parenting staple - fails to work as well. The `secret` technique is revealed for the first time in her new parenting `bible` Happy Kids. Foster carer Cathy Glass, penned the handbook for parents and carers driven to "their wits end``. She says that by following the formula, mums, dads, step-parents, teachers and child-minders could bring badly behaved children under control in seven days or less. Mum-of-three Cathy - whose previous titles have topped the bestseller charts - said the approach works for children with both mild and severe behavioural difficulties. ``The key to the Three Rs lies in its simplicity,`` she said. ``Until now, parents and carers have had to rely on existing types of discipline that, quite simply, fail to work very well. ``As a result, many adults begin raising their voices or using threatening language themselves - usually as a drastic last resort. ``Happy Kids - and the Three Rs in particular - are groundbreaking in that they can help manage children`s poor behaviour in a quick, easy and loving way.`` The Three Rs work on a simple three-stage process. The first, the `request`, is a verbal instruction from adult to youngster. If this is ignored, the adult `repeats` the same command. When this fails to work, the adult `reassures` the child that the instruction was necessary by carrying out the command on his or her behalf. A good example of seeing the Three Rs in practice can be found, Cathy says, at the supermarket. ``Imagine that a mother and young child are standing at the checkout. To go through the checkout, the mother needs her child to sit in a pushchair. ``Using the Three Rs, she would request the child to get in the pushchair and, if that is not successful, repeat the request kindly but firmly. ``If the child still doesn`t comply, the mum would then reassure the child what will happen next - by placing the child in the pushchair herself.`` According to Cathy, 50, the process can be applied to children of all ages - from newborns and toddlers, to teenagers. Her methods are based on a `back to basics` form of parenting, a model she perfected during a foster career spanning almost 25 years. She has cared for more than 50 children in that time, including several with challenging behavioural issues. Her previous titles - Damaged, Hidden, Cut and The Saddest Girl in the World - tell the story of abused children in her care. All were bestsellers. Cathy, who lives in Gloucestershire and writes under a pseudonym to protect the identity of her subjects, wrote Happy Kids based on her own experience. She said: ``Some of the children I`ve cared for misbehaved because of a tragic upbringing - some had been forced into prostitution by their own parents, and others had been physically or sexually abused. ``But what they all had in common was a need for firm boundaries - to be guided and instructed in a way they hadn`t been before. ``It was about establishing a two-way relationship, where they could trust me and I could come to rely on them to be well-behaved.`` The book also covers the psychology behind bad behaviour, controlling tantrums in public, and dealing with sibling rivalry. Cathy added: ``Rearing a child is the most important job in the world, but the only one that comes without basic training and on-going monitoring. ``Writing Happy Kids is my answer. If there`s one thing I know from past experience, it`s that a little positive instruction goes a long, long way.`` Educational psychologist Naomi Burgess, who runs her own practice in East Finchley, London, said the Three Rs were a "welcome addition". She said: "Bringing up children is complicated, difficult and exciting, but there are techniques which parents can easily adopt to lead to better, happier relationships between them and their children. " Anything that helps parents in this process, such as the 3Rs principal, is therefore welcome." Happy Kids: The Secret to Raising Well-Behaved, Contented Children, is out now in paperback (HarperCollins), priced £7.99.

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