I’ve talked about tantrums in regard to toddlers. However I see an ever increasing amount of older children still having tantrums when they don’t get what they want. I believe this behaviour is a continuation from toddler hood because it wasn’t quashed when it first surfaced. Children use the tactics they know work to get what they want.
If your little person got what they wanted by throwing a fit in the supermarket to get the cookie or candy bar then chances are as they grow they will throw a fit to get the shoes they want or go to the play date you have said “no” to.
Unfortunately it’s more difficult to stop tantrums when children are older, especially if they yell and scream and lash out at you physically or verbally. It can be very hurtful when your child tells you they hate you. Which of course they don’t mean. We need to remind our children that words hurt but also that you can’t always have everything your own way and that kind of behaviour isn’t accepatable.
Don’t fret, it’s harder but it can be done 🙂 Here’s what I reckon works.
We’re not supposed to be our kids friends. That’s not our job. Our job is to parent. I tell my kids that all the time. They don’t have to like us. And let’s face it, sometimes we don’t like them very much either but ultimately we love them and do everything in their best interests. Teaching them right from wrong as best we can.
Socially acceptable behaviour doesn’t just come overnight. It takes time to learn. Every day we teach something even if we don’t realise it. Seize every teaching point. Point out a child who is throwing a fit when your child is calm. Talk about what it looks like, how ugly it is. Ask how it could be resolved differently. Make it relatable to them. I regularly do this. Quiz them on how would they handle that situation. You’d be amazed at what you’re kids will say. This is also a great way to teach problem solving.
I’m a great believer in practicing things. For example, you could practice a behaviour you’d like to model in your home when your kids aren’t tired, cranky or hungry. Kids can get right into role playing, you be the naughty kid and tell them to be the parent. Then reverse it and show how you’d like a situation to be handled. If you give them expectations then they know what you want. Kids want to please their parents but they just need some guidance on how to do it. You need to set new boundaries. Have a family meeting and talk about how things haven’t been going the way you’d like and introduce the new goals and boundaries and how you want it to work and what you expect from them. You might be surprised how they respond.
Very recently Miss Gremlin and I were in the chinese take-out waiting for dinner (a non paleo cooking night). A woman came in with 2 children but the older child refused to come into the store. So she was trying to order, watch the small child and get the older child, maybe 6-7, to come inside. It was a potentially dangerous situation because the child was out of sight on the sidewalk, the chinese store was crowded and anything could have happened. Miss Gremlin was watching this all transpire in the space of about 3 minutes and I could feel her tension. She was very worried the child wouldn’t come in and made a move to go out and get him. I stopped her and explained that although it’s a very unsafe situation and she feels bad, we can’t always interfere. Sometimes people get very upset if you do something that makes them feel inadequate. Of course if it’s a life threatening situation that can be different but unfortunately people get offended when you interfere even if you have good intentions. She understood. Good teaching moment.We left with me feeling very proud that I had instilled in Miss Gremlin the concern for others and a longing to help.
We love the Super Nanny in our house. My kids love to watch it and can’t believe some of the things they see children do! It’s very amusing to sit back and listen to them yell at the kids on tv and talk with each other about what the parent should do to change the child’s behaviour. I’ve been known the threaten calling Super Nanny to come save our family in the past. My kids are horrified that I think they behave badly enough to warrant a Super Nanny visit. Of course they’re not even in the ball park but I see nothing wrong with using a little bit of shame from time to time if they’re misbehaving 🙂
It will be difficult at first but if you’re consistent with the consequences it will start to come together. Compliment them when they accept you saying no without a fuss. Positive reinforcement works wonderfully. Be consistent and fair. If you have more than one child then if you say no to one then you have to say no to both. You can explain if you feel you want to but you can also just say it doesn’t work right now. They’ll learn.
The world isn’t fair and when you’re kids say “It’s not fair” they’re probably right but getting what you want or getting your own way all the time isn’t always what you need. Even some adults get the sulks when things don’t go their way. So childish. (I guess they never learned how not to have tantrums.) 🙂 You have to be able to see another point of view. You don’t always have to like it or agree but things have a way of working out.
It’s ok to be disappointed and upset. They are valid feelings but your child needs to be able to control their emotions enough that they can accept it if you say no. They’ll also find that the better they behave the more they get because things are easier and your fear of a tantrum if you dare say no has all but gone. Harmony comes with much effort but it’s so worth it.
The consistency must be with both partners though. You can’t have one parent trying to change a behaviour if the other one isn’t doing it too because that just confuses the child. A behaviour has to become automatic and an expectation from all carers not just with one person or another.
I don’t always get it right, I’m just one person but I often get compliments on what lovely, well mannered, well behaved children I have. It’s not luck, it’s been a lot of hard work but I think it’s worth every painful moment that I had to curb an undesirable behaviour.
Good luck as you make your way towards happy tantrum free days.