Friday, October 14, 2011
Tantrums, Fussing, Whining: Oh My!
Choices: You may be able to avoid problems by giving your child more of a say in his life. You can do this by offering choices. Instead of saying, “Get ready for bed right now,” which may provoke a tantrum, offer a choice, “What would you like to do first, put on your pajamas or brush your teeth?” Children who are busy deciding things are often happy.
Eye-to-eye Communication: When you make a request from a distance your child will likely ignore you. Noncompliance creates stress, which leads to fussing and tantrums – from both of you. Instead, get down to your child’s level, look them in the eye and make clear, concise requests. This gets their attention.
List of DO’s: Instead of focusing on misbehavior and what you don’t want them to do, explain exactly what you’d like your child to do or say instead. Give simple instructions to follow and then praise results. Remember “thank you” goes a long way.
Validate Feelings: Help your child identify and understand their emotions. Give words to feelings, “You’re sad. You want to stay here and play. I know.” This doesn’t mean you must give in to the request, but communicating that you understand can help keep things calm.
Distraction/Redirection: Children can easily be distracted when a new activity is suggested. If your child is whining or fussing try viewing it as an “activity” that your child is engaged in. Since children aren’t very good at multi-tasking you might be able to redirect them with a recommendation of something different to do.
Call on the Imagination: If a child is upset about something, it can help to vocalize his fantasy of what he wishes would happen: “I bet you wish we could buy every single toy in this store.” This can become a fun game.
Prevention: Review desired behavior prior to leaving the house, or when entering a public building, or before you begin a playdate. This might prevent the whining or tantrum from even beginning. Put your comments in the positive (tell what you want, not what you don’t want) and be specific.
When It’s Over, It’s Over: After an episode of misbehavior is finished let it go and move on. Don’t feel you must teach a lesson by withholding your approval, love or company – or with a lecture. Children bounce right back, and it is okay for you to bounce right back, too.