So last week I wrote about some behaviour issues we were having with little Miss Ava, and that I was about to start some intensive time-out training with her.
Thankfully the week was better than I thought, and I rarely had to resort to such measures, but I’m aware that this is only the beginning when it comes to her heart training.
Anyway, I had a bit of interest overall and also some questions as to how to employ time out effectively, so I decided a follow up post was in order.
Turns out however, that I’m extremely long winded, and have far too much to say, so this follow up post is turning instead into a mini-series.
I’m passionate about families; I love them, and I really love seeing them do well. My goal in parenting is not just about being a good mum to my kids, but being a help to others. I’m very willing to share our failures and successes, if it can help.
Having said that, I couldn’t in good conscious just publish a ‘how to’ post; there are so many factors and circumstances to consider, and I want to equip parents to look at the whole situation, rather than just the easiest fix. So this post is just a beginning look at some of the reasons behind tantrums, and how to deal with them. Next Monday, I’ll publish a follow up to this follow up.
Some people might think we are a little full on when it comes to our parenting methods, but our motto is ‘begin as you mean to go.’ If you have a goal in mind, then it’s easier to start training towards that goal, rather than retrain negative behaviour that has occurred because you have let things go.
Small children can learn very quickly, and very easily, and are often capable and aware of a lot more than we think. I believe you need to capitalize on this and start early.
One of the biggest parenting challenges of small children is tantrums. Most of us have been on the receiving end of one (or more) of the screaming fits, and it’s never nice, and sometimes very embarrassing. The trouble is, ‘what to do?’
When it comes to tantrums there are a couple of things to consider. Is this tantrum being thrown out of frustration? Or rebellion? The answer to that question will determine how I treat it.
It’s hard to be a kid. There are all these things you want to do, and often aren’t capable of. Think of some of the activities you do with your toddler; thinks like building blocks, or puzzles, or driving cars down a ramp. These activities are easy for you, and you do them well. Sometimes too well. Your block houses are always pretty and well put together. When your toddler tries to copy your actions, it doesn’t look the same, and sometimes it just doesn’t work. Depending on the temperament of the toddler, this can be a huge source of giant frustration. Some won’t care; others will end up in an absolute mess over it.
This is a typical frustration tantrum. It’s not thrown because you have said no, or taken away a desired item; it’s out of sheer frustration. The best way to help a child deal with a frustration tantrum is to help them gain self control, which may sound completely ridiculous, but is actually quite easy.
We introduce the topic of self control from a tiny age, and we show our children how to ‘get’ self control, by putting their hands together. It takes an intense amount to concentration for a little person to intertwine their fingers and keep them together, so quite often the act of doing it will distract them from whatever is causing the problem. Best of all, you can start teaching from six months old, with success.
Point in case.
We use self control training in all sort of situations such as nappy changes, shopping, and when sitting at the table. Ava becomes so excited by ‘getting self control’ that she loses interest in what else is going on.
It’s also a great way to help an overwrought child get control. A friend of mine uses it consistently with her three year old, and often when dear little Lara is upset or slighted, her mum asks her to get self control, and not only is Lara able to focus and control her hands, but her volume and her words calm down.
This is a great tool to use in the event of a frustration tantrum, because it helps diffuse the situation before it gets out of control. When you see the child getting upset, you go over to them, and tell them in a calm voice to ‘get some self control,’ and then help them to fold their hands. (A word to the wise; introduce this concept at a happy time, and not in the heat of war, because it won’t work!)
When they are calm, try and work through the source of the frustration. They might need help achieving something, or it may just be better to put the toy (or whatever it is) away for the day (or a few months.)
With an older child who can talk (like Bailey,) I will ask him what is wrong, what he would like to do, and then remind him to ask me to help nicely. With his hands folded, ‘please help me mummy,’ actually becomes a lot easier for him, and it helps me to not get frustrated back.
Of course sometimes the very act of trying to prevent a frustration tantrum by removing object or getting them to ask for help, will induce a temper tantrum, and that then requires a whole new approach, which we will talk about next week!
Until then, happy parenting!