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Tantrum, Not Listening
On one occasion recently my 5 year old “angel” drags her feet when I ask her to get dressed and come downstairs for school. She sobs and throws an “age appropriate” tantrum. Under these circumstances, she ignores my plea that “the Governor of the State of Nebraska requires children to get to school on time, so move now!” During these dark moods, unless I help to dress her, hold her hand, and lead her to the breakfast table, my darling’s touch will not waver.
Oh, the stress she sometimes causes me in the morning. It’s no fun looking at the clock as it gets her ready as time passes quickly. Oh, my blood pressure is rising. Backpack, snack, folder, hat. I don’t enjoy the rush, rush, rush of it all!
So I tried every approach imaginable to get my daughter to listen and not throw a tantrum. I’ve discovered that old-fashioned bribery (Webster’s Definition #2: something that serves to induce or influence) and what I call “semi-severe compliance” works well with my kindergartner. She listens much better.
But first, try to determine the cause of the rage. Tantrums can be triggered by a number of things, and the cause of the tantrum should help determine your response to it. If tantrums are caused by hunger or sleep, feed the child or allow him to sleep. If frustration or fear triggers a tantrum, you need to comfort your child. If the child feels ignored, spend some quality time with him, playing or reading, etc. If, however, your child is acting out because he or she can’t get his or her way…
Here’s what you can do. If you are under a time limit and your child won’t come to you as told, go get her, dress her yourself, then tell her that because she acts like a baby, you will treat her like a baby. She won’t like this! Hold her hand directing her to the breakfast table, sit her down on the chair while reminding her that failing to listen earned her 5 minutes, a time that serves as a tool for bribing. She will win & wave and beg for a pass. Remember college psychology? I touched on and applied Ivan Pavlov’s Theory of Association (Classical Conditioning) to mommy-hood. Failure to listen = time-out. Yes, when the bell rings my daughter salivates, so to speak.
If she’s whining and demands you get her something, say an item of clothing from her closet, tell her you’ll help after she first does something like put her dirty clothes in the basket. Look and observe. She will listen.
If she has a tantrum and the timing doesn’t matter, remind her that you expect more from ____(insert age) years old, and you won’t put up with tantrums. Leave the room and come back only after the crying stops. Then tell her to use her “big girl voice.” That winking and whining are not effective ways to communicate with me or anyone. Then in a calm and patient way, give her a real sentence example of how to voice her thoughts, feelings, wants and needs.
Discuss the behavior with your child after the tantrum ends. While there’s no point trying to reason with a child in the middle of a tantrum, you can both learn a lot by discussing the incident afterward. Make it clear that the behavior is unacceptable, but also make sure your child understands that you love him or her regardless. Give them a hug. Try to discover the cause of the tantrum, if you haven’t already, and take the opportunity to discuss better alternatives with your child.
don’t forget Tell your child that you expect an apology for her behavior. Post-corica, when she says “I’m sorry.” Ask her what she regrets. This question will help her understand that tantrums are not acceptable. She will learn.
If you have to run out the door with a furious screaming child who hides under the table when called, grab her firmly and carry her to the vehicle, reminding her that you are disappointed. Kiss her goodbye before school and tell her you love her. Then, at the end of the day, even if she is in a good mood, remind her that her love attitude is inappropriate. Tell her that for the rest of the day, she can make the personal choice to have a positive attitude. Ask her what her choice is. Kids like options. She will learn to listen.
Does your child not listen to you, over and over again? Remember that the angry phase will pass, and your job is to guide and love your child through these. Try to follow my examples as listed above. They are working.
Writer’s note: Although there are many schools of thought on the subject, I am a firm believer that hitting a child as punishment for not listening or throwing a tantrum is unhealthy for the parent and child and teaches:
-that you are out of control
-that hitting is acceptable behavior
-that feelings should be suppressed and not released (a little boy expresses feelings in the only way they can)
-Children learn by examples of parents. If they are not hit by them, the child will be less likely to hit when upset with his peers.
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