I read about this in Miriam Adahan’s book Raising Children to Care. (Excellent book, by the way!)

She writes about how when you are trying to instill in your children positive patterns and behaviors, it won’t work to teach them at the time of panic.  Just like in a fire drill there is no tension because everyone knows it’s not a real fire, making drills in your home to teach proper behavior patterns can also be fun and worthwhile when the tension is eliminated.
 
One example she brings in her book to explain the concept of drills is the following:

Everyday the children come home from school and instead of hanging their coats up nicely they throw their coats on the floor. One day, drill them on hanging their coats up properly.  Have them put their coats on, go out of the house, come back in and immediately hang up their coats.  Do this a number of times to erase the old program and instill the desired action instead.

We tried this in my house a few months ago.

After we tucked our kids into bed at night they would continuously call us to cover them. One night, when my husband couldn’t take it any longer, he decided to have a drill with them.  He told my kids to all get into bed. He covered all of them and then told them to roll around under the covers and when he said stop they all had to quickly cover themselves.  Then he told them to pretend to be sleeping and he pulled the covers off of each of them.  When he said “cover” they all had to cover themselves.  He continued with a few more fun drills like that until he felt that they could all cover themselves properly. 

That night, after saying good night and shutting the door, we sat down to eat our dinner. A few minutes later we heard a faint “Abba, cover me.”  :)


 
When one of the kids is acting up, send them away and ask their nice counterpart to come back.

Here’s what I mean:
 
Rachel is hitting/yelling/insulting etc.

So you say:

“I don’t know what happened to my Rachel. My Rachel is this nice sweet girl. She talks nicely, she shares with her siblings, she picks up her toys… And do you know what happened now?  I lost her and instead this other girl came.  She looks like my Rachel and she has the same clothes as her and her voice is the same.  But my Rachel doesn’t act like this.  So you know what?  I want you to leave.  Go! Leave!  (And send her out of the room.)

And then either ask her to please send your Rachel, the “nice” Rachel back or call out for the “nice” Rachel.

And when she reappears, give her a huge hug and tell her in detail and with lots of exaggeration what happened.

“Oh Rachel, I’m so happy to see you!!!!!

Do you know what happened???

There was a girl here.  She looked just like you!  She was even wearing the same clothes as you! And I thought maybe it was you!  But it wasn’t you! Do you know why? Because she was hitting and she wasn’t talking nicely at all.  And I know that my Rachel doesn’t do that.  So you know what I did?  I sent her away.  I told her to leave and to never come back.  And oh, am I glad to see you…”

After doing this once with one of my kids, the next time she acted up she suddenly stopped and on her own asked me to call the “nice” Rachel to come!

Try it in your home and let me know how it goes…

 
When the kids are being difficult, not listening, giving you a hard time… instead of yelling, getting frustrated or feel like you’re talking to the wall – try singing what you want to tell them instead.
 
To explain what I mean, here’s what happened in my home:

For a while now, two of my kids have been fighting every morning over who gets milk poured into their cereal first.  Whichever one gets first yells out “I got first” and the other one starts crying and sometimes even refuses to eat her breakfast (and then of course it gets soggy and is completely wasted…) As you can imagine, it is a very frustrating way to start off the day. 

At first when this happened I told my kids that it doesn’t matter who gets first and I tried a little chant.  I would say “It doesn’ttttt….” and they would have to yell out “matter”.  But that didn’t work.  So a few days ago, after feeling so burnt out and frustrated I started singing. 

And here’s how my song goes (to the tune of “She’ll be comin round the mountain when she comes”)

Oh it doesn’t really matter who gets first

Oh it doesn’t really matter who gets first

Oh it doesn’t really matter

It doesn’t really matter

It doesn’t really matter who gets first.

The truth is that they still fight and get upset over who gets first.

BUT, at least now I don’t get all worked up about it. When I start feeling my blood pressure rising, I just start singing the song and it keeps me sane.

So, if your kids are fighting about something or you’re trying to get a certain message across – SING!  Even if they don’t get the message, it’ll keep you in a good mood which ultimately is the best thing you can give them anyway!

 
Here’s a fun way to encourage your kids to clean up when there is a huge mess of toys on the floor:
 
Call out a color and everyone has to clean up that color.
For example, “Red” and everyone has to put away all items that are red.
Then call out another color, etc. until the entire room is clean.
Alternatively, assign each child a different color to clean up.
To vary it, you can also call out shapes.
This is a great way to reinforce colors and shapes for a child who is learning this.

For older kids, instead of calling out colors or shapes, give clues.
For example:
Pick up something that keeps you warm and put it where it goes (sweatshirt)
Pick up something that you can look through and has a button to press (toy camera)
Etc.

Use this fun and creative technique to get kids to pick up toys, clothes or just about any mess.