Naturally, Mother H. has a few things to say about the matter of parenting. After all, when you’ve raised 263 hatchlings to be responsible hens and roosters, like she has, you will be quite the authority as well.
Rule Number One:
Never tell a young’un more than twice, tops.
Tell them once because, well, how else are they supposed to know? Tell them twice only to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, they might have fluff in their ears and not have heard you the first time.
Continuing to cackle simply teaches the little beggars that they only have to move their precious tail feathers once Mama starts to really squawk. By that time, Mother is about to have a conniption, which is bad for her mental health.
Rule Number Two
To every action there is an equal (but not necessarily opposite) reaction.
If a young’un does the right thing, fuss. Do everything short of throwing a party in her honor. Sing her praises. Give her a high five. Put a sticker her chart. When parents fuss more about the negative than they do about the positive, guess which kind of behavior a little chickie will choose more?
If a young’un does the wrong thing, don’t fuss. Calmly enforce pre-determined consequences that fit the crime. Time outs, complete with a little egg timer are Mother H’s favorite. The trick is that the whole time out must be spent quietly by the little delinquent or the time starts over again. If that naughty little rooster hops away before his time is done, pick him up and put him back. After a good time out served, offer a hug. Mama still loves her baby even when he messes up, now doesn’t she? (Hint: The correct answer is yes.)
For bigger offences, there must be bigger consequences. Say your little chicken crosses the road, a definite no-no. Well, there is one hatchling who is going to have her freedom curtailed for a while!
Rule Number Three
Don’t threaten. Have rules, have consequences, and that it is that. However if you do by any chance threaten, make sure it is something that you are willing to follow through on, Mama and Papa.
Typical family conversation as overheard by Mother Hen:
Mama: Stop that, Junior! Put your little sister down, right now!
Mama: I’m warning you Junior! I am going to count to three!
Papa: Listen to your mother, Junior. [His eyes are glued to the game on TV.]
Mama: One! Two! Three! I’m not going to tell you again! That’s it: a week in the coop for you!
Junior: Awww, Mom!
Papa: Isn’t that a bit harsh, dear?
Mama: Well, okay. Go sit in the nest for three minutes, Junior.
Junior: Just give me a sec.
Junior learned his lesson all right. He learned that parents don’t mean what they say, and that any consequence is negotiable. Which lead us to:
Rule Number Four
Present a united front. If there is more than one parent, back each other up.
“Well, what if he’s wrong?” you say. Discuss it, later, away from the chicks. Remember, someday soon, you will want him to back you up!
Rule Number Five
Don’t lose it, and we all know what it is, don’t we? Our nasty bad tempers that’s what! When you lose it, you have lost, plain and simple. The little monsters have won. Need we say more? Mother Hen didn’t think so.
That’s all, at least until MH feels like it.