How to Avoid Being Taken Hostage by Kids’ Demands

demanding child avoid demands

Photo: upyanose | iStockphoto.com

Parents sometimes feel like hostages to the intense demands of their children, intimidated into submission with the threat of “the big gun” – a deafening meltdown. One of our online course participants asked for help:

Our 3 1/2 year old son often wants a specific plate or cup. So if we set him up with one that he doesn’t like, he can be very vocal about it. Sometimes our initial reaction is something like “It doesn’t matter if you have the blue cup or the orange cup. Why can’t you be flexible & move on?!?! Get over it!” But perhaps he wants to exercise his choice & preference.

10 Best on the Connected Families Blog 2014

We can hardly believe it’s 2015 already! Before we dive into a year of new blog posts, we thought we’d dwell for just a moment on some of your favorites from 2014. Here are the ten most-clicked parenting tips of 2014.

P.S. If you know a friend or relative who might benefit from some Connected Families insights, this would be a GREAT post to share with them!

Why Do Kids Tantrum?

Why do kids tantrum- (1)

Simply stated, kids have tantrums because they pay off. In some convoluted sort of way they get what they want. Even if it means they lose their cool and wear themselves out. The challenge for a parent is determining what exactly a child might need in the midst of an all-out emotional outburst. What they want may not be what it appears at face value to be. For example, even if the flailing tantrum at the store does not get them the object of the tantrum, the child is still likely meeting a need for intense attention, for power, and for control. So if a child is lacking good attention, or feels out of control, a tantrum might be just the thing the child needs in order to get some attention or feel in control.

How Parents Can Predict a Meltdown…

child throws a tantrum

Credit: leftfieldphotography | iStockphoto.com

Fists clench. Ears turn red. Lips quiver. The tiny chest heaves to draw in a breath and then — “NOOOOOOOO!!”

When your child starts working up to a tantrum, those tell-tale warning signs can make an explosion seem expected, or even inevitable. But while a meltdown might seem predictable, it doesn’t have to be inevitable.

Why Kids Explode and What to Do about It

Why Kids Explode

Just like us, our kids sometimes react angrily when something important to them feels attacked. First expressions of anger are almost always aggressive. As kids get old enough to express themselves, the aggression becomes words and actions.

I saw it just today. The toddler at the Post Office was angry that her mom wouldn’t give her the sucker the postmaster handed out. She chased her mom through the lobby, and when the mom stopped at her P.O. box, the feisty little gal hauled off and whacked her mom. Mom turned quickly with her finger extended and brow furled. “Stop it!” she yelled. It’s a natural response that doesn’t really teach kids anything constructive. But before the mom could say anything else I simply and rather loudly said to the child, “Wow! You’re really mad! You really want that sucker.” I looked right at her from across the lobby and she looked back. I paused for just a second or two. Her mad face immediately softened. I then said, “but you can learn to be nicer when you’re mad.”

The mom looked at me, looking a bit ashamed but also relieved. She then immediately looked at her daughter and calmly said, “Did you hear him? You should be nicer when you’re mad.” She held out her hand and the daughter took it, and they walked quietly out to the car.

Now it could be that the little gal quieted because she was shocked that some ugly old balding man with a grey beard would talk to her that way. But we’ve seen time and time again that when grown-ups can validate their kids’ anger – even aggressive anger – and put words to what the kids feel, it helps the kids feel understood and then settle down. It helps the parents settle too. Then the resolution can be much more constructive.

The Five Powerful Results of Empathy

There is no more important time for kids to know they are loved than when they misbehave. If the love message misses them then, they will grow to
Crying child & empathy mombelieve that love is conditional or earned. People who believe that love is earned tend to rise and fall with their performance, and compromise themselves for approval. Not what we want for our kids.

One way children know they’re loved is if you simply say so, not in a condescending way, but from your heart, right there while your kids are misbehaving. (Sound crazy? Just try it!) But another powerful, perhaps less-well-known way to express love is by expressing understanding, or empathy.

How a Pipe Cleaner Can Stop Your Child’s Meltdowns!

A Practical Idea for Teaching The Skill of Flexibility

Pipecleaner
Does your child sometimes unexpectedly meltdown at the drop of a hat? Does unexpected change or inflexibility lead to frequent tantrums? If so, you’re not alone! As a parent helping kids sort out their frustrations can be a challenge, especially when they have a tantrum that ramps up quickly.  Practical tools that help a child understand how their behavior affects others can be simple, like the following example from Jen and her son Jonah.

Despite Jen’s best efforts, her goal of trying to stop her son’s meltdowns just seemed to make them worse. After realizing that she needed to be more proactive instead of waiting for those inevitable outbursts, Jen worked with Lynne during a parent coaching session on a new plan. Here is her story:

T.E.A.C.H.ing Values in Real Life

Renee and Randy were in a common repeating cycle with their 5-year-old, Peter. “We felt like we were constantly on eggshells because of his daily meltdowns.” We showed them the T.E.A.C.H. framework, and their next report was a great review of how effectively they applied it. Here’s their summary:

T – While Peter was calm they Talked with him about how sometimes our bodies get upset and our energy gets too high. They told him there are a lot of ways to help our bodies feel more calm.

E – They Exemplified self-control by staying calm and by describing their own emotions and energy level. When angry, the parent would say, “I feel angry now, but I want to calm down. I’m going to sit down and take a few deep breaths.” Sometimes they’d play soothing music or take walks, always describing their strategy.

A – They looked for any opportunities to Affirm Peter whenever he avoided a meltdown. Even if he started sucking his thumb they said, “It looks like your body figured out it needs to do something calm itself down.”

C – They Created Opportunities for success when he started sucking his thumb by saying, “Let’s find some bigger, more helpful ways to calm yourself down that won’t be hard on your teeth.” Then they offered some choices of big movement activities.

H – They Helped him get started in the calming activity, making sure it was fun and commenting on how it helped him be so calm and grown up (Affirmation).

In just a few short weeks of using the T.E.A.C.H framework to guide them, Renee, Randy, and Peter were experiencing much more peace in their daily routines.

Parents who T.E.A.C.H. their kids consistently report that their kids are more receptive to their teaching. It takes some thought and prayer!

Frustrated by constant discipline challenges? Take 15 minutes to read our free ebook When Your Child Misbehaves – Four Strategies for Lasting Change.