Monday, January 25, 2021

Temper Tantrums, Whining and Begging...not fun for anyone.

We wonder, is it too much to ask our children to cooperate, to accept no as an answer, to understand they cannot always have what they want? 

And yet for many of us, this is a daily struggle.  The necessary tasks of life become a battle ground:  getting dressed, putting away belongings, helping out around the house and brushing teeth.
At the grocery store we are begged  for candy or toys, although we have said no many times.  And the list goes on.  

Lucky for us, there are some tried and true ideas that have worked for many parents.  These are not magic (wouldn't that be great?), they require hard work, lots of patience and possibly most important of all, consistency.  That last one was nearly my downfall. 

Let's begin with one simple response to begging and pleading.  We'll use the grocery store and asking for candy as an example.  Now, of course, before we leave for the store we make sure we say that there will be no candy purchases made today.  

As you begin to check out, the display of candy catches the child's eye.  "Mom, look.  That's my favorite candy!  Can I have one? "  "No, I told you, no candy at the store today."  "But, mom, I really want one.  I'll be good.  The next time I won't ask, I promise."  "I said, NO CANDY."  Our patience is wearing thin at this point, and we often follow up with "How many times do I have to tell you, NO."  Ah, and then the tears begin and the voice gets louder.  People are starting to give us "that look".  You know...why doesn't she control that kid look.  And everything goes downhill from here, including threats of punishment when we get home, never getting candy again and increasing anger on both sides.  

Instead, try this (I promise you it works!):  "Mom, there's my favorite candy!  Can I have one?"  "Oh, I know you really like that candy.  Today is the day we are not buying candy."  " But I really, really want one."
Now, here is the magic:  we choose a simple phrase to repeat every time the child argues, begs or whines.  I like "I know."  Some others are:  I see.  That's sad.  Oh my.  You get the idea.  And we must say this with the most quiet, bored voice possible.  No anger, no frustration, no sarcasm.  This is the hard part.  There may be a full fledged temper tantrum, but stick to the same words.  If necessary, leave the store.  Before long the child gets the idea that begging, pleading, anger and whining do not work.  Children will only continue with behavior which gets a result.  That result may be making the parent angry (I am powerful.  I can make mom mad.) or getting the candy (Mom doesn't mean what she says) .  
Another idea that can work wonders in some situations is to turn our no into yes.  Now, that does not mean letting the child do whatever they want.  Often we can rephrase our response to a request like this: 
"Dad, can we go to the park and play ball?"  Now it is not possible.  You are busy, it is nearly dark and dinner is ready.  Of course, no is the answer.  Ah, but how about this: Yes, that would be a lot of fun.  We can go to the park on Saturday morning.  It should be a sunny day and I will be finished this job by then.  Or would you rather go on Sunday?  I can do either one.  The child may say he wants to go now and we respond: I know. Me too! Would you like to go on Saturday or Sunday?  Almost always the child will like having a choice and be understanding about the delay.  Save the no for those times when there isn't an alternative.  

 You may leave questions and comments by clicking on the comment button at the bottom of the page.  Have a great week!

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